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I have a problem with something bought from a private individual

When you buy goods from a private individual, they must match the seller’s description. These are your rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and include any description seen in an advertisement, online messages and any verbal description given by the seller.

If the goods bought don’t match the seller’s description, then you may have the right to return them to the seller for a full refund although this may require that you have noticed the issue quickly and not used the goods.

If you have been using the goods and not noticed the issue until later, then it might be seen that you’ve accepted the goods in their current condition. At this point can ask the seller to cover the cost of any repairs that are needed or refund the difference in value between what you paid and what the goods are worth.

It will fall to you as the buyer to prove that the goods don’t match the sellers description which could be difficult if there was only verbal discussions between them and yourself and you have  no physical proof of how the goods were described.

Some examples

You buy a used car which is described as having 50,000 miles on the clock but you later discover that the  car has been clocked had the true mileage was 80,000 miles.  This could mean the car is worth less than what you paid for it.

What should I do next?

If you haven’t already done so then you should try to speak with the seller about your problem to see if you can to come to an agreement. You can then follow this up with a more formal letter of complaint. It’s best to send this by signed for mail which will allow you to check that it’s been received, alternatively you could send an email with a read receipt. You should also give the seller a  reasonable timescale to reply.

Last updated: 01 April 2019

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