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Dealing with Problems with Furniture and Household Goods

Find out about the relevant consumer protection.

The phrase ‘household goods’ covers a wide variety of items, including such things as furniture, kitchenware and carpets.

When you purchase household goods, the same rules apply as when buying any other product. You still have the same consumer rights and this means that there are laws in place to protect you if anything goes wrong. However these rules only apply when purchasing items from a business.

The law which covers consumer goods is the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This states that any goods purchased must be:

  • fit for purpose
  • of satisfactory quality
  • as described

If anything you have purchased falls short of these expectations, you should be legally entitled to a refund, or, if the product is damaged, a replacement or repair. Whichever option you choose, you should not be charged for it.

Fit for purpose

A product that is “fit for purpose” means it does what it is supposed to do. In some cases, it should be obvious what this involves; for example, a chair which is not stable enough to sit on does not serve its purpose as a chair.

This can also apply to more specific promises about the suitability or features of a product made to you by the person who sold it to you. For example, if you asked if a folding chair was waterproof because you intended to keep it in the garden, and were told by the salesman that it was, then you could say that the chair was not fit for purpose if it was ruined from being left out in the rain.

Goods must be of satisfactory quality

Goods are ‘of satisfactory quality’ when they are up to the standard that the average person would expect. What is considered ‘satisfactory’ can, of course, vary, but as a rule, any product you buy should meet the following standards:

  • It should be safe to use. A business which sells unsafe products is committing a criminal offence.
  • It should have a satisfactory appearance. Even if it works, an item which is covered in scratches and dents is usually not considered to be of satisfactory quality if it is bought new.
  • It should not have any minor defects. A new product should not be missing parts or be slightly damaged, even if these do not stop it from working or could be easily repaired.
  • It should remain in reasonable condition for a reasonable period of time. While there are no exact numbers given for how long an item should last, in many cases it will be obvious that an item was faulty to begin with, for example, if it breaks or begins to fall apart within weeks of being purchased.

There are some situations in which these rules do not apply. For example, if you were informed of a defect in a product before buying it, you cannot later make a complaint about this. If, for example, a cutlery set has a sticker on it saying that a fork is missing, buying it means that you accept this as satisfactory.

It’s also important to note that items are expected to sustain some regular ‘wear and tear’ when being used normally, and this does not mean that they are faulty.

The product should be as described

Any product you buy should be ‘as described’, meaning that it needs to match up to any descriptions given to you regarding what the product will look like or do. Things may be described in many ways, such as:

  • Photographs or text on the label or packaging
  • A description from a salesperson
  • A depiction of the item in a catalogue or on a website

The item you receive should match its description, and if it doesn’t you are entitled to reject it and ask for a refund (or a replacement or repair if this would fix the problem). If you bought a product based on a sample, then the product itself should match the sample. For example, if you buy a carpet or a pair of curtains, the full item should be made of the same material as the sample.

Where to seek further help

For more advice on what to do if you receive unsatisfactory goods, read our section on common problems regarding goods.