Consumer Protection



Consumers are protected by various laws to ensure that businesses deal with them in good faith. As an entrepreneur selling goods or services, your compliance with such laws is not only necessary to ensure that no legal action is taken against you, but also to ensure that you respect consumer rights.


Selling goods

This act applies to anybody selling goods to consumers, for example, manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers etc.

Key consumer rights when selling goods:

  • Goods must match the description that you give them;
  • Goods must be of a satisfactory quality; and
  • Goods must be fit for the purpose specified for

Goods that don’t satisfy all the above requirements will be deemed faulty.


Selling Services

Key consumer rights when selling services:

  • Work must be carried out with reasonable care and skill;      and
  • The service must be provided within a reasonable amount of time and at a reasonable price.

When you agree to sell services to a buyer, you are entering into a legally binding contract with them. It is therefore important that you clearly define the service(s) that you are offering.

Under the Provision of Services Regulations, almost all service providers are required to provide certain information to the recipients of their services. To find out if it applies to you, click here to look at the Office of Fair Trading’s (OFT) Distance Selling at a Glance flowchart.

If it applies to you, the required information includes:

  • your business name, legal status and form
  • your business address and, if available, an email address
  • details of any UK or European Economic Area authorisation schemes or professional and regulatory bodies you are regulated by or must belong to
  • details of any trade or other similar public registration and your registration number
  • your VAT number, if the service is subject to VAT
  • details of any terms, conditions and after-sales guarantees
  • the price – where it is pre-determined – and details of the service to be provided
  • details of any professional indemnity insurance you hold and contact details for the insurance company
  • contact details for any complaints

For a full checklist of required information, click here to download a checklist from the OFT.


Unhappy customers

Faulty Goods

Consumers are entitled to reject faulty goods time and receive a full refund if they have not yet accepted the goods. The law does not give a time limit for acceptance but it allows consumers to have a reasonable opportunity to inspect and examine the goods and this must take place within a reasonable time.

Unsatisfactory service

If customers aren’t satisfied with a service you have provided, they have a number of rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

If the service is unsatisfactory and you haven’t used reasonable skill, you must put the work right at no extra cost. Failing that the customer can ask another supplier to put the work right and claim the cost of this from you.

If a customer complains on the grounds that you have charged more for the service than was agreed (a quotation not an estimate), they’re only obliged to pay the price you have given them in the quotation. If no price was agreed beforehand, they’re legally obliged to pay a reasonable price.

If you have agreed a deadline for completion of the service, you’re in breach of contract if you don’t keep to that time. The customer will be entitled to claim compensation for any losses. For instance, they may have to eat out because their kitchen is unfinished.

Under the Provision of Services Regulations 2009 you are required to:

  • Provide details of how customers can complain – such as your contact details including telephone number and emails address – in an easily accessible form.
  • Inform your customer if you are subject to a code of conduct or are a member of a trade association or professional body that provides dispute resolution services. Details of where information on the code of conduct or resolutions procedures can be found should be provided.
  • Resolve any complaints as quickly as possible.


To review more detailed guidance on how to adhere to consumer protection legislation, download the following guides from the OFT:

Sales of Goods Act Explained

E-Commerce Regulations Checklist

Examples of Distance Selling Scenarios



  1. What is the difference between a customer and a consumer? A consumer is the end-user of your goods or service who is not buying them for business purposes, whereas a customer is a general term that can encompass both businesses and consumers.
  2. If the goods I am selling are covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee, am I still responsible for protecting consumer rights? Yes. Even where the goods you are selling are covered by a manufacturer’s guarantee, this will not remove the rights a consumer may have against you as the supplier.