The liability for defects in second-hand goods depends on who the seller was.
- When second-hand goods are bought from a company or business, the consumer’s rights are determined by the Consumer Protection Act. The buyer must primarily complain about defects to the vendor, but consumer rights advisors may be contacted in disputes. Companies that act as agencies for second-hand goods are also liable for the products they sell. This does not apply if the agent is selling on behalf of another business and the consumer has been made aware of this and of the consumer’s rights at the time of the sale.
- When second-hand goods are bought from a private individual, it is not the Consumer Protection Act but the Sale of Goods Act that applies. The regulations concerning defects are largely similar in the two acts. The buyer’s responsibilities are more extensive in deals between private individuals, however.
- When second-hand goods are bought at an auction at which the buyers are able to be physically present, the buyer is not protected by the Consumer Protection Act. The buyer may consult consumer rights authorities when the buyer or agent is a company or business.
Because deals between private individuals are not covered by the Consumer Protection Act, the buyer may not turn to consumer rights advisors in these cases. If there are defects, the buyer should start by complaining to the seller. If this is unsuccessful, the matter can be referred to a district court.
Goods are considered to have been bought from a private individual even when they were purchased from a marketplace maintained by a company, if it is clearly indicated there that the parties to the sales contract are private individuals. This includes self-service flea markets, online forums where sales notices are posted and online auction sites.
Defects in second-hand goods
Second-hand goods are often sold “as is” or with another similar proviso. In this case the seller is not liable for defects caused, for example, by use or wear and tear.
The “as is” clause does not necessarily release the seller from all liability, however. The seller may be responsible for faults or defects if:
- the information given by the seller concerning the characteristics or degree of use of the item are incorrect, and that information may have influenced the sale.
- the seller omits certain known and significant information about the characteristics or degree of use of the item, and this omission may have influenced the sale.
- the item is in worse condition in relation to its price and the circumstances than the buyer could justifiably have expected.
Repairing or replacing defective goods
Discounts and cancellation of sale
Problems in flea market service
The party responsible for maintaining a flea market or similar marketplace for second-hand goods is liable for the services sold, just as other service providers are.
Private individuals who sell their second-hand goods through a marketplace such as a self-service flea market, an online forum or an online auction may demand compensation from the responsible party if the services are not according to agreement.
The party responsible for a flea market must ensure that the goods left there for sale are appropriately monitored. The company may be liable for compensation in the case of theft, for example. To be released from liability, the company must be able to prove that the theft or other damage was not due to negligence on its part. The maximum compensation that can be demanded for lost goods is equal to the agreed sale price.
Compensation for damages