Sale of second-hand goods

When you buy second-hand goods from a company, your rights are secured under the Consumer Protection Act and, for example, you can complain about a defect in the goods to the company. Second-hand goods are not of the same quality as new ones, and for this reason, goods that you buy second hand often have faults caused by use and natural wear and tear. However, these faults are not defects referred to in the Consumer Protection Act. 

Second-hand goods and consumer protection

Liability for a defect in used goods depends on who the vendor was.

  • If you bought the second-hand goods from a company or a trader, your rights are secured under the Consumer Protection Act. You must always complain about the defect to the vendor first, but in case of a dispute, you can contact the Consumer Advisory Services.A company that acts as an agent for second-hand goods is also liable for the goods it brokers. This liability does not apply, however, if the agent is selling goods on behalf of another trader and the consumer is aware of this and their rights when concluding the contract
  • If you buy second-hand goods from a private individual, the Sale of Goods Act applies to the sale, rather than the Consumer Protection Act. The definitions of a defect in the provisions of these two Acts are largely similar. In a sale between private individuals, the buyer’s obligations are more extensive than in consumer trade.As the Consumer Protection Act does not apply to a sale between two private individuals, the buyer cannot turn to the Consumer Advisory Services. The buyer should first complain to the vendor about any defects. If this complaint does not resolve the problem, the buyer can bring the matter to the District Court.Goods bought on a marketplace maintained by a company are also regarded as having been purchased from a private individual if it is made clear that the parties to the sale are private individuals. Such marketplaces include self-service flea markets, online forums where sales notices can be posted and online auction sites. A company that brokers second-hand goods between private individuals is always liable for the goods it handles.
  • When second-hand goods are bought at an auction at which the buyers can be physically present, the provisions on defects in the Sale of Goods Act are applied, rather than the Consumer Protection Act. The buyer may contact the consumer protection authorities if the vendor or agent is a company or a trader.

Defects in second-hand goods

Defects in second-hand goods are assessed on the basis of the same provisions as defects in new goods. From 1 January 2022, second-hand goods may not be sold under ‘as is’ conditions or with other similar general reservations.  At the time of sale, the vendor must itemise any ways in which the product differs from normal and inform the buyer about them, and the buyer must accepted them.

Previously, second-hand goods were often sold ‘as is’. Regardless of such conditions, the product has a defect for which the vendor is liable if:

  • the information the vendor provides about the characteristics or use of the goods are
  • incorrect and this information may have affected the sale.
  • the vendor does not give the buyer significant information about the characteristics or prior use of the goods and the failure to do so may have affected the sale.
  • considering its price and the circumstances, the item is in a worse condition than the buyer had justified reason to expect.

Defect in a flea market service

The party maintaining a flea market or a similar marketplace for second-hand goods is liable for the service they sell, similarly to other companies providing services.

For example, a private individual selling second-hand goods as a customer of a self-service flea market, online forum or online auction may claim compensation from the party maintaining the marketplace if the company does not provide the agreed service.

The company has an obligation to ensure that the goods left for sale are monitored appropriately. For example, the company may be liable for losses caused by theft. In order to be released from liability, the company must be able to prove that the losses were not caused by its carelessness. The maximum compensation that the customer can claim for lost goods is the agreed sales price of the goods.