There is a section devoted specifically to buying from online auction sites such as ebay, but for now there are some points to bear in mind when buying second-hand.

Firstly, remember that the statutory entitlement of quality and fitness for purpose only applies when buying from someone who is ‘acting in the course of a business’ i.e a second-hand car dealer. You do not have any legal recourse as regards quality where you are buying through an individual who is selling an item as a one-off private sale (although they must have legal title and it must be as described in the advert).

Secondly, when buying second hand, there is a general recognition in law that the reduced price you pay reflects the risk in taking ownership of something with a greater likelihood of developing faults or breaking down completely. You pay less because it is recognised you will have to pay the repair costs yourself rather than relying on the manufacturer’s warranty.

But what if you buy something which breaks down shortly afterwards leaving you with a massive repair bill. Could you argue that the seller was aware of this fault but said nothing? This may be difficult to prove.

Or is it the case that it is something a pre-sale examination by you should have revealed? Not if the fault only because apparent after some weeks of use.

Depending on the problems encountered (safety implications for example, if it is a car), the length of time you’ve had it, the price you paid and your expectations of the future usage, you may have a good chance of rejecting the item and claiming a full refund.

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Your Statutory Rights