Which?'s top 10 rights for consumers
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith says: "You need to know what you're entitled to by law, and how to stick up for your rights.
"You don't need to be a legal expert to understand some of your key consumer rights – just knowing some of the basics could save you time, money and effort in the long run."
The list contains some surprises, for example shops have no obligation to take back goods that you've changed your mind about.
Many stores will allow you to exchange within a given period if the goods are still in saleable condition, but this is goodwill, not the law.
The other surprise concerns price. Shops don't have to sell goods at the price displayed.
When an item is put on the shelf with a price, this is defined legally as an 'invitation to treat'. The contract is only made once you offer money to a cashier – an offer to buy – and the cashier accepts, therefore making a contract.
Top 10 consumer rights
So here are the top 10 consumer rights you should be aware of, based on Which?'s experience of dealing with a wide range of cases.
1) There is no legal right to a refund for goods bought in a shop just because you change your mind about them. So check the returns policy before making a purchase.
2) You don't always have the right to cancel a contract, so always read the small print. If there's no cancellation provision, then there's probably no right to cancel.
3) If goods are purchased with a warranty and prove to be faulty, you can choose to claim against the warranty company or the retailer that you bought the goods from.
4) A shop does not have to sell goods to you at the price displayed.
5) Retailers can't rely on a seven day returns policy for faulty goods bought online, as the Sale of Goods Act means you can reject faulty goods within a reasonable period of time, usually three to four weeks.
6) A car dealership wouldn't have to refund a spur of the moment purchase unless it was written into the deal, so beware impulse buys!
7) If you tick the box stating you've read the terms and conditions, the law presumes that you have read them, understood them and accepted them – you can't later claim that you didn't read them if you're faced with a problem.
8) Holidays booked via a travel agent and paid for by credit card may not be covered if the holiday company goes bust, as many card companies will not pay out when you've paid an agent.
9) You have the same rights when buying a second hand car as you do when buying a new one.
10) If you have an item delivered and the delivery man can't get it through your door, don't expect them to just return it to the warehouse – they could legally leave it on your doorstep or charge you to take it back.