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Complaining about faulty retail goods

​What should I do if goods are faulty?

Contact the retailer without delay if your goods are:

  • not of satisfactory quality
  • not fit for the purpose
  • not as described

Be polite. Tell them what is wrong and what you would like them to do to put the matter right. If possible, take your receipt as proof of purchase. It proves when you bought the goods, how much you paid and shows the method of payment.

What if I have thrown out the receipt?

Proof of purchase could also include a bank or credit card statement.

What am I entitled to?

If goods are faulty, within a reasonably short period of time after the sale took place, a consumer is entitled to a full refund or compensation (damages).

Consumers could alternatively choose to request:

  • a repair or replacement - the consumer should not be significantly inconvenienced. The retailer can decline this request if they can show it is disproportionately costly compared to other alternatives
  • a partial or full refund - the consumer will have had some enjoyment in the goods prior to the fault and this will have to be taken into consideration

Who is responsible for proving the goods are fault if the retailer does not believe me?

When consumers return goods within the first 6 months from the date of sale, they do not have to prove they were faulty. It is assumed they were and if the retailer disagrees then they must prove that the goods were of satisfactory quality.

After 6 months, the responsibility of proof lies with the consumer so you may need to obtain some evidence to indicate that the goods were not of satisfactory quality as opposed to fair wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage.

Who is liable for wear and tear, misuse or accidental damage?

The consumer. The retailer is only liable for goods that were supplied in breach of contract.

How can I obtain evidence to prove my goods were supplied in breach of contract?

Some faults are obvious and the retailer will take your word for it but if you can’t agree you may need to get an expert opinion to back up what you are saying. If you have had the goods for 6 months or more, this will be your responsibility. Always advise the retailer of your intentions.
An expert opinion may for example be obtained from the manufacturer of the goods or a service agent.


If you ask someone to examine goods to determine the fault and if possible give an opinion on the probable cause then remember they are entitled to a payment as they are carrying out a service. 

Find out how much this will cost. Don't assume it will be free of charge. You will have to balance the cost of obtaining this report against your chance of success. If the report is inconclusive, indicates you are to blame, or successfully challenged by the retailer then these additional costs will compound your losses.

If however you are successful and the retailer accepts this opinion then there is no reason why you can’t add the cost of obtaining this report onto the cost of your claim. These costs should be reasonable and kept to a minimum.

What if the retailer still does not believe me?

If you paid by credit or debit card you may have additional protection.

Card payments

Alternatively the goods may be under a manufacturer's guarantee or warranty so you may decide to make a claim.
If you have exhausted all other ways of resolving your complaint your only other option may be through the Petty Debts Court. This court can hear small claims up to £30,000.
Always seek advice from the Court Greffier before taking court action.

Need more help or advice?

Contact our Consumer Advice Service for free confidential advice.

Consumer Advice Service

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