All consumers should know about the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SoGA) as it provides consumers with protection when making purchases, whether buying on the internet, over the phone, via the shopping channel, by mail order or on the high street.  In our experience at, we have found that consumers cannot rely on retailers to behave in a lawful or honourable way, so it is important that you understand this key piece of consumer legislation, the consumer rights that it provides, and what remedies there are to resolve problems when buying goods.

In summary, the Sale of Goods Act provides three statutory rights:

  • The seller owns the goods and can sell them.
  • The goods are of satisfactory quality.
  • The goods are ‘as described’.

It goes on to describe the remedies that are available. In summary, these are:

  •  A repair.
  •  A replacement.
  •  A refund.

The retailer will usually offer the remedies in this order. These remedies are a big source of confusion and many consumers expect a full refund or a brand new replacement leading to a large number of complaints on the  forum. This is often due to retailers, such as Marks and Spencers, who have a returns policy that exceeds their statutory obligations and sets consumer expectations very high. One thing that surprises some consumers is that a refund can be partial taking into account the usage and age of the item and a replacement can be of a similar age i.e. not brand new.

There is more confusion in some particular circumstances and when other consumer legislation becomes relevant. For example, when goods are bought with credit, on the doorstep, over the internet and via auction, such as on eBay. The following guides will give you a deeper understanding of the Sale of Goods Act and what you need to be aware of.

Your Statutory Rights

And if your statutory rights are broken: