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Retail trading standards

Last updated 18 June 2013

Once a trader displays goods/services, an invitation for the customer to offer to purchase is made ("invitation to treat"). Only once an offer has been accepted, money changed hands, contract signed, does this then become a legally binding contract.

Useful guidelines for traders

  • It is a criminal offence to restrict a consumer's statutory rights with notices such as "no-refunds"
  • People injured by defective products may be able to sue you for damages
  • Business names should be displayed and printed on receipts, orders, invoices etc
  • Goods must be "as described" and not misrepresented
  • Goods sold must be of a satisfactory quality and fit for the purpose they are intended unless the customer is informed prior to the sale and agrees to purchase

Trading at car boot sales

Are you a trader?

  • You sell goods you specially buy to resell
  • You regularly attend a sale
  • You employ others to help
  • You sell similar goods at other venues (from home, markets, in the street)

Answering yes to any of the above and you may be classed as a trader and bound by consumer law.

Genuine 'non-traders' are outside the bounds of consumer law but are still required to ensure goods are accurately described or be obliged to provide a refund, replacement or reduction in price.

Good practice for private sales

  • Avoid selling electrical goods unless you are sure of it's from a reputable source
  • Avoid clothing which may be inflammable (outside the flammability requirements) or pose a hazard (children's hood-cords)
  • Check toys are safe to be used and remove sharp objects
  • Check carefully and caution is needed when selling goods that have their own safety standards (prams/pushchairs, oil and paraffin heaters)

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