“What rights do I have when I buy goods from aprivate seller or at a car boot sale?”

When you buy goods from a private individual they must match their description. So, for example, if you buy a car and the seller tells you it has an 1800cc engine, it must not have an engine of a different size. Similarly, if you buy a pair of shoes which the seller tells you are leather and you later discover they are plastic, the seller has broken the law.

Do I have any other rights? Generally, you have fewer rights when you buy from a private seller – the old saying ‘buyer beware’ applies. It is therefore important to check goods before you agree to buy them. The goods may be faulty or damaged,for example a coat might have buttons missing or there might be a tear in a pair of jeans. In these cases the law expects you to notice the fault or damage before you buy the goods. However, if a retailer says that something is ‘in good working order’ and when you get it home you find it does not work, you may have rights because the item did not match its description.

Is there anything else I need to be aware of? You have less rights when you purchase goods from a private individual, so some unscrupulous traders pretend to be private sellers. This is a criminal offence and if you suspect someone you have dealt with is really a trader you should contact your local Trading Standards Service who might be able to take action against the trader.

What if the goods are faulty? As explained above, you are not entitled to a refund if goods bought from a private individual are faulty because the law says that goods bought from a private individual do not have to be free of faults. However, the person who sold you the goods may, as a gesture of goodwill, return your money or exchange the item.

What if the goods I buy are still under a guarantee? Generally, the only person who can use a guarantee is the person who first bought the goods, so it is unlikely that you will be able to use it, but always check.

What should I do if I am dissatisfied with goods I have bought? If the goods are not as the seller described them to you: stop using the goods immediately.

REMEMBER Goods must match their description. Check goods for faults or damage before you buy. A guarantee may be worthless. A trader posing as a private seller is breaking the law. Further advice is available from Consumer Direct or your local Citizens Advice Bureau.