Consumer Protection

Learning Objectives

  • to understand the consumer protection rights that buyers have in the UK.

Learning Outcomes

Must – understand that customers have rights when buying online and in person.

Should – understand what rights customers have when buying different types of goods and services.

Could – advise different types of customers on their consumer rights, by linking back to the legislation.

Know your rights!

Consumer Protection is about the laws that protect the rights of people who buy goods and services.

When you buy a good or service, you are protected under UK law and have rights under the Sales of Goods Act 1979.  This is an act of parliament to protect the rights of UK consumers.  When you purchase something it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.

If the item is faulty it has to be replaced, repaired or the money refunded back to the customer.

When you buy off the Internet, you have the same rights as if you bought from a physical shop.

Cooling off period

In addition to your rights under the Sales of Goods Act, there is a “cooling off” period for online purchases.  This means that orders placed online can be cancelled, for any reason, up to seven working days after receiving the item(s) and a full refund of any money paid will be made.

This cooling off period applies to everything purchased online EXCEPT:

  • goods made to a personalised specification.
  • perishable goods such as food or flowers.
  • CDs, DVDs, Software where the SEAL has been broken.
  • newspapers, magazines or other reading material (BUT NOT BOOKS!)
  • gaming, betting and lottery purchases.


Give advice on the rights the following customers have below and discuss what they should do.  Answer these in your exercise book:

  1. Aaron purchased a Tent from CampingMegaStore in the sale.  He used the tent for the first time at a music festival about a week after buying it, and it leaked badly in a rainy downpour.  He took the tent back to the shop and they said they could do nothing about it because it was in the sale.  Advise Aaron on his rights.
  2. Alice purchased a pair of personalised trainers from Nike Store UK online.  When the trainers arrived she didn’t like the colour of them and is thinking of returning them for a refund.  She wants to know what her rights are.
  3. Simon ordered a laptop from  It arrived a day later, but he’s noticed that, have a better model in the sale for a cheaper price than he paid.  He’s told that he wants to return the laptop for a refund, but they’ve told him that as he opened the box and turned on and used the laptop, there is nothing wrong with it and they will not accept it back.  Advise him on his rights.