Buying second-hand goods

When you buy a second-hand item from someone who is selling it as part of their business, you have a similar set of rights as when you buy a new item. However, your rights very much depend on what you paid for the item.

Any item you buy, including a second-hand item, must be fit for the purpose it has been sold for. It must also be as described to you, and the quality must be of an expected level, given the price you paid.

But you cannot expect second-hand goods to be of the same standard as new products.

Second-hand goods are “sold as seen”, so there may be some fault, imperfection or wear and tear. You need to examine the item carefully and ask the seller to point out any damage or imperfections. Make sure the item does what it is expected to do. For example, if it is a second-hand television set, check that the picture and sound are working correctly, the reception is clear and the remote control works as it should.

For some items, for example jewellery or antique furniture, you should get an expert opinion before you decide to buy. With second hand cars, you should follow our checklist on how to check out a car.

If the item turns out to be faulty, you have the right to return it to the shop where you bought it and ask for a replacement, a repair or a refund.

Private sales

If you buy second-hand items through a private sale – like a second-hand car through a newspaper or website advert - you have no consumer rights as you are not buying from a business.

If you buy from a private seller, the item only has to be owned by the seller and fit their description. The item does not have to be suitable for any purpose. So it is very much a case of "buyer beware". You should check the item carefully and make sure you are happy before you buy it. For example, if you are buying a second hand car privately, you should consider having a mechanic look at it first.

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