Car Boot Sales and the Law

There are two key pieces of consumer rights legislation you should know when you look to buy or sell at a car boot fair: the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

If you have a problem with a purchase these laws could make all the difference.

They are also useful to quote if you need to take a matter to your local Trading Standards officer, which you can do via Citizen's Advice.


The Sale of Goods Act 1979

If someone sells an item that does not match the written or verbal description you were given they are in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1979. This means you are entitled to a refund or discount.

If the car boot seller is a professional trader, rather than a casual seller, they would fall foul of this law if they sell something that's not fit for purpose or of poor quality.


Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations

This legislation prevents sellers from making unfair claims that can affect your right to redress.  For example, a seller can't simply state that they do not give refunds, or that the items on sale are sold as seen.  This is not true and under the law you have the right to a refund if the item is faulty.

For example, it's reasonable to expect an electric drill to work unless you are told otherwise and you may not be able to check its performance at the stall.

 Beware counterfeit or stolen goods. Car boot sales are frequently used by criminals to sell counterfeit or stolen goods.  If you suspect that an item you have bought is not legitimate you can ask for a refund.

 Be suspicious of stalls selling huge amounts of CDs and DVDs, as they may be fake. You can report any concerns to Citizen's Advice.

 Designer clothes should be checked carefully. Phony merchandise that is passed off as authentic brands is sometimes sold at car boot sales.

 Don't be misled by a seller.  As with all other goods on sale, the seller cannot mislead you.  While the law may say you are entitled to a refund if you are told a lie, it's probably best to walk away if you are suspicious.

 Check product literature and labels.  All sellers are obliged to trade items that are safe, but it is possible that some will either turn a blind eye or not give it a second thought.  Where possible, check product literature and labels.

 Take particular care with children's toys, electrical goods, cosmetics and upholstered furniture.