How to: Buying from a second-hand dealer

What protection do I have when buying from a dealer?

Goods bought for normal domestic use, including second-hand goods, come within the protection given consumers by the CONSUMER GUARANTEES ACT 1993. Therefore goods bought from a second-hand dealer are required:

  • to be of acceptable quality
  • to be fit for any particular purpose discussed between the buyer and seller
  • to match their description and correspond with any sample model shown
  • to be fit for the purpose for which they are made
  • to be safe
  • to have no minor defects
  • to be acceptable in look and finish
  • to last for a reasonable time

Obviously the life span of second-hand goods is less than for new goods. Whether or not the goods comply with the standards in the Act will depend on what a "reasonable consumer" would find acceptable, taking into account factors such as:

  • the price
  • the age of the goods
  • the condition they were in when they were sold, and
  • any information given to the buyer about the goods

(See How to exercise your rights under the Consumer Guarantees Act.)

Warranties and guarantees

A second-hand dealer may provide a warranty or guarantee with the goods, which may be for a few months. Alternatively, there may be no warranty or guarantee at all.

However, whether or not there is a warranty or guarantee, the protection under the Consumer Guarantees Act will apply if the goods are faulty; these rights cannot be replaced by the dealer issuing a limited warranty.

The dealer cannot remove your rights under the Act by putting up signs such as "No refunds".

Second-hand dealers must be licensed

Second-hand dealers must be licensed under the SECONDHAND DEALERS AND PAWNBROKERS ACT 2004. They must display a copy of their licence in a prominent place at their shop. It's an offence for someone to say they are a licensed second-hand dealer if this is untrue.

Dealers must also keep records of the goods they hold and sell. These records must include who they bought each item from and for how much, and other details.

Cautionary notes
  • If the dealer is selling goods on behalf of a private seller, any action that you take under the Consumer Guarantees Act will be against the dealer, not the private seller.
  • If you buy second-hand goods from a private individual, the Consumer Guarantees Act does not apply.


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