What are your rights as a consumer if the garage sell you an old banger? - Jenny Ross

Q I bought a car for £20,000. It rattled from day two and when I took it back to the garage, they admitted there was a problem with it. They said it could take some time to fix so I tried to return it under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which says faulty items can be returned within 30 days of purchase. However, the garage would not accept it and told me if anything happened to the car if I left it, I would be liable. Have I got the rules wrong or are they just trying to avoid responsibility?

Answer: Discovering a problem so soon after making such a big purchase must have been stressful enough, but to be given so little help or reassurance from the seller makes it that much worse.

Fortunately, as you say, there is a safety net in the shape of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA), which protects almost every purchase you might make. There are three key standards that products and services bought by consumers must meet: the first is ‘fit for purpose’, the second is ‘as described’, and the third is ‘satisfactory quality’.

If your car started rattling after two days, then all three standards are unlikely to have been met. However, if you inspected the vehicle and test drove it at the point of purchase, and were happy enough with the quality, it would be harder to prove that the car didn’t meet expectations.

To claim under the CRA, first revisit your contract. If the seller is based outside the UK this could affect your rights.

That said, you don’t need a full house in order to make a complaint: if only one of the standards aren’t met, then you can claim under the CRA.

It’s vital that you first revisit your contract to understand who this is with. This may sound simple, but if the seller is based outside of the UK, then this could affect your right to claiming.

If you bought the vehicle through a hire purchase agreement, for instance, your contract might be with the finance company and not the dealer of the vehicle. In this case, your claim would be with the finance company.

You are right that the CRA gives buyers up to 30 days to claim a full refund. If you’ve owned the product for longer than 30 days and less than six months, you must give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace it before you can claim a refund. If you’ve owned it for six months or more you must give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace it before you can claim a partial refund, and the burden of proof is on you to prove the product is faulty.

If you’ve owned the car for 30 days or less, the supplier cannot refuse a refund if any of the three key standards aren’t met. If you discover the fault within the first six months of having the product (which you did), it is presumed to have been there since the time you took ownership of it - unless the retailer can prove otherwise.

The least you’re entitled to is the garage offering a repair or replacement (often this will be whichever is cheapest or easiest for it to do). If that attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can claim a refund or a price reduction (if you want to keep the car).

Do note, though, if you go beyond 30 days of ownership, you’re entitled to a full or partial refund instead of a repair or replacement if any of the following are true: the attempt at a repair or replacement failed; the cost of the repair or replacement far exceeds the original cost; reparation or replacement are impossible; or the repairs and replacements cause significant inconvenience or a long time.

If you made the purchase with a credit card, a piece of legislation known as Section 75 will give you another layer of protection. For purchases worth more than £100 and less than £30,000, Section 75 makes your credit card provider jointly liable with the trader should the goods or service provided be substandard, so you have the right to take your claim to a credit company as well as the trader.

Jenny Ross is Which? Money Editor

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