Satisfactory quality

How do you measure quality?

Satisfactory quality is defined as what a ‘reasonable person’ would regard as acceptable, and takes into account factors such as price paid, fitness for purpose specified, appearance and finish, freedom from minor blemishes, safety and durability. If it becomes apparent that an item is not of the quality you were led to expect, you were not aware of any such defect when you bought it, and you bought from a seller acting ‘in the course of a business’ (i.e. not an informal sale), you are quite within your rights to go back to the retailer, even after some months of use. If it is the case that you were invited to carry out a thorough inspection of the product and fail to spot a defect which that inspection ought to have revealed, you may not have recourse. Safety is an important aspect of quality and we will look at unsafe goods and product liability under different legislation – namely that of the Consumer Protection Act LINK.

It’s not fit for purpose!

That’s a legitimate claim as long as you are using the item for the purpose for which it was intended. This is the principle of fitness for purpose. There is no point claiming that paint thinner has had adverse effects if it is not being used as paint thinner! Similarly, if you are commissioning the manufacture of a product and do not specify the purposes for which it will be used you will have no recourse if it fails to live up to your expectations

How long should it last?

Durability is another recent addition to the definition of quality. How long should a dishwasher or a vacuum cleaner or a printer last? This is a very common source of complaint and one which manufacturers were always quick to turn back on the consumer, requiring them to provide proof that the item did not conform to contract specification from the start, or implying an element of misuse or neglect. Thanks to the new European Regulations, UK law now offers greater protection for consumers against products which develop faults within the first six months. The assumption is now that if it breaks down within this time period it cannot have conformed to the contract specification when purchased. Having said this, items which should last several years can still break down after this six month period, and in order to make a claim under the poor quality issue, it will vital for you to know how long items such as washing machines or printers should last. You can get this information relevant trade association

It could be that due to the discontinuation of something you have recently bought, you can no longer get your hands on spare parts, rendering it un-fixable. Unfortunately there is no legal obligation for a manufacturer in this regard, although there are some trade associations who require their members to ensure products are not rendered useless due to the absence of spare parts.

I bought it from a bloke down the pub

As mentioned above, the statutory term of satisfactory quality only applies if you have bought something from a commercial entity – a supplier or retailer who is acting ‘in the course of a business’. If you buy something from a private seller, you don’t have the benefit of this protection and must employ ‘buyer beware’. For this reason, take good care when buying a second hand car from a private seller

What are my rights if I buy an item which I know to be damaged?

If an item is reduced in price due to a sale, your rights are the same as if it were a full priced item. If however, the item is reduced due to a defect and you are made aware of that defect, you cannot then return the item on the basis of that defect. Sounds obvious, but in many cases, the shop assistant will tell you that you cannot bring the item back at all – which is misleading. What if you buy a shirt at reduced price because of a missing button. However when you get home you discover a huge hole in the seam which you were not informed of. You know you cannot return the item due to the missing button, but you are free to return it on the basis of the dodgy seam.

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7 comments… add one
  • Michael Fahy 1 April, 3:11 pm

    I bought a 27″ tv from Argos which cost approx £300 20 months ago, it has stopped working, we rarely use it as its in our conservatory. It is outside the 1 year guarrantee, can I argue for a replacement because it should have lasted more that this period of time?

  • gillian 20 May, 6:22 pm

    i bought an iron costing 199.00 after 18 months the boiler inside has perrished the warrenty ran out four months ago.what are my rights please

  • Valerie Friend 5 November, 8:55 pm

    New apartment bought from Berkeley Homes – roof started leaking only 7 years after completion.

    The first time the roof leaked I successfully made a claim under the Zurich 10 year new home policy for the roof to be repaired. Now 10 years after the roof was constructed the flat fibreglass roof has become detached and has been flapping when the wind gets up. Zurich are refusing to deal with it as 10 years have expired.

    I have informed berkeley Homes that I consider that the roof they supplied was not fit for purpose. They sent a roofer to look at it but he did not access the roof. Berkeley Homes have refused to take remedial action as the damage to the roof was not visible from the street when their roofers came to inspect. So next time there is high winds we can expect the roof to flap about again.

    Can anyone please advise what steps I should take next. Surely a roof on a new apartment block should last more than 10 years?

    Valerie Friend

  • Paul 10 January, 11:14 pm

    I have the stupid situation where I purchased an xbox from a store. I have the receipt and it is in warranty however the xbox does not read discs. I took it to the store they set it up to test and it worked although it was done behind the counter out of my sight so I did not see it actually work.

    I cannot get any discs to play on it either new or old and cannot use it at all now. Game are telling me unless it exhibits a fault in the shop they will not exchange it.

    It is faulty and I cannot play discs on it so when I take it back if they tell me its “ok” can I demand my statutory rights as the xbox is not fit for purpose to force an exchange under the warranty?

  • Natalie 30 August, 8:08 pm

    I bought a Fossil watch from a shop called Menkind in Stratford City in May 2012. By June 2012 the watch had started to lose time. I took the watch back to the shop and they gave me another one. Within one month (June 2012) the replacement watch also started losing time so I took the watch back and asked for a refund. The shop manager said that the watch had past it’s 30 day refund time so all he could do is send the watch back to the manufacters for repair. I insisted that the watch had not been dropped or anything else done to it that would cause it to be losing time. The shop owner began saying that I had dropped the watch because it had a scratch on the glass face. He refused to give me a refund and sent the watch off to the manufacturer. When the watch came back he told me that the fault occured because the watch had been dropped and also the report from the manufacturer stated that there was condensation inside of the watch. He said that if I wanted the watch fixed I would have to pay the repair bill. Now, I contacted Fossil and they said that they only found a slight scratch on the watch but they would never say that the watch was dropped because they could not prove it even if it were the case and as for the condensation that he states, they have no record of saying such a thing.

    It is clear to me that this shop ‘Menkind’ in Stratord City is selling faulty Fossil watches. I paid £100 for the watch and would it expect it to last more than a month before it packed up.

    Does anyone know what I can do to force this shop to give me back my money or replace the item?

    I can categorically confirm that the watch was not dropped or placed in water. It was only worn on two occasions before it started losing time.

    Please help, any suggestions would be appreciated.


  • tina davies-lyons 27 March, 7:25 am

    We brought a sofa last week 21/3/15 at Harvey’s the sofa shop it was delivered the same day, we now find it more uncomfortable than the one it’s replaced, I find that when I sit on it I am slipping to oneside,what are our rights ? Thankyou

  • Daniel 11 December, 5:45 am

    Update: The supplier (Robinsons) are clrelay going under or have already done so. When I placed the order, they had a 96% rating on Amazon and very little negative feedback. Today, they have a 5% rating and nothing but negative feedback for the last 5 weeks.The good news is that Amazon have now fully refunded the order so I’ve been able to place another one with a different supplier. With luck, that’ll be here by the end of the week!