Consumer Rights - What Can You Do If You've Purchased Counterfeit Goods?
If you buy something, only to discover later that’s it’s a counterfeit, not what you thought you were paying good money to own, what can you do? Do you just swallow the loss from your shopping or can you return it?
The law is on your side, and there’s strong consumer protection. The UK tends to be strong on consumer rights, and although counterfeit items and consumers aren’t covered directly, the law does ensure you are covered.
Buying In Person
The main thing you’ll want to do is return the item and get your money back if your shopping has sent you home with counterfeit items. Here the law is quite specific. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, if something proves not to be the way it’s described when sold, then you have the right to demand a refund or replacement from the seller – and note that it’s from the seller, not the manufacturer, which is probably just as well!
You have up to six months to exercise these consumer rights, so if you don’t discover the counterfeit immediately, don’t worry! So if it takes you a while to realise those UGG boots aren’t the real thing, it’s still fine. The law offers the same consumer protection even if you buy from a private seller or even second hand – if the item isn’t what the seller claims, you can return it and demand a refund.
Most sellers will gladly refund your money (if it’s a reputable store, it might be a breach in the supply chain that’s left them with counterfeit goods). However, if someone – possibly a market trader – is reluctant, if you invoke the Act and threaten them with a visit from Trading Standards or the police, you’ll almost certainly walk away with your cash back in your pocket.
In the event that doesn’t do the trick, you always have the option of taking the seller to small claims court, although it’s unlikely you’ll take that action for low priced items.
While counterfeit goods are common enough in shops and market stalls, the biggest sales arena is online. As a consumer, you’re always more at risk of buying counterfeits when shopping online, especially at online auction sites.
However, in many instances, the law will still offer you plenty of consumer protection. Once again, the law in the form of the Sale of Goods Act covers you if you buy from a retailer in the UK. If the item from an online retailer turns out to be fake, then you can return it and demand a refund under the law.
Even if you buy from an online retailer in the EU and have a counterfeit problem, as a consumer you can still return the item.
With online auctions, probably the single biggest market for counterfeit goods, your best bet is to complain to the company running the auction site and launch a complaint. If you pay with Paypal you might have some coverage for your outlay, and it’s possible you might reach a resolution with the seller, although, if they’re from Asia – and so many are – then the chances could prove slim.