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Car boot sales: Your consumer rights


Car boot sales can offer bargains galore. But don't get ripped off. We list your legal rights when buying or selling at a car boot sale.

Car boot sale

There are two key pieces of consumer rights legislation you should know when you look to buy or sell at a car boot fair.

These are the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

If you have a problem with a purchase these laws could make all the difference.

They are also useful to quote if you need to take a matter to your local Trading Standards officer, which you can do via Citizen's Advice.

The Sale of Goods Act 1979

If someone sells an item that does not match the written or verbal description you were given they are in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

This means you are entitled to a refund or discount.

If the car boot seller is a professional trader, rather than a casual seller, they would fall foul of this law if they sell something that's not fit for purpose or of poor quality.

Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

This legislation prevents sellers from making unfair claims that can affect your right to redress.

For example, a seller can't simply stick up posters that state they do not give refunds, or that the items on sale are sold as seen.

This is not true and under the law you have the right to a refund if the item is faulty.

For example, it's reasonable to expect an electric drill to work – unless you're told otherwise – and you may not be able to check its performance at the stall.

Beware counterfeit or stolen goods

Some items will do what they say on the box but may be dodgy in other ways.

Car boot sales are frequently used by criminals to offload counterfeit or stolen goods.

If you suspect that an item you've bought is not legitimate you can ask for a refund.

Be suspicious of stalls selling huge amounts of CDs and DVDs, as they may be fake. You can report any concerns to Citizen's Advice.

Designer clothes should be checked carefully. Phony merchandise that is passed off as authentic brands are sometimes sold at car boot sales.

Don't be misled by a seller

As with all other goods on sale the seller cannot mislead you.

So, if you have any qualms, ask whether the items you're interested in are genuine.

While the law may say you're entitled to a refund if you are told a lie, it's probably best to walk away if you are suspicious.

Check product literature and labels

All sellers are obliged to trade items that are safe, but it's possible that some will either turn a blind eye or not give it a second thought.

Where possible, check product literature and labels.

Also, take particular care with children's toys, electrical goods, cosmetics and upholstered furniture.

Items should be clearly priced

You may be standing in a field, not a shop, but that doesn't mean that items shouldn't be priced up, a requirement of the Price Marking Order 2004.

There are some exceptions to this rule, such as works of art and antiques.

Whatever you buy at a car boot fair, remember to ask for a receipt and the seller's contact details in case you have a problem with your purchase.

Even though there's no legal obligation to provide a receipt, most traders will be happy to issue one.

Don't be put off visiting car boot sales

Finally, don't be put off visiting car boot sales.

They are a great way to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday morning.

You can have some fun browsing among the stalls, pick up some great bargains, and buy with confidence now you know your rights.


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