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13 Problems with Goods and Services

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1. Introduction

2. What is the difference between 'goods' and 'services'?

3. Dealing with problems with goods (products)

4. What the law says a retailer must do about faulty goods

5. What if a product hurts someone or damages something?

6. What if I buy by phone or mail order, or over the internet?

7. What if something is wrong with the food I have bought?

The Sale of Goods Act and the Consumer Protection Act also apply to food. If food you buy turns out to be 'contaminated', you may be able to claim compensation. Food can be contaminated by:

  • bacteria that caused food poisoning; or
  • unwanted objects, such as glass or metal, which hurt or could have hurt someone.

You could claim against:

  • the retailer you bought it from, because the food was not 'of satisfactory quality' under the Sale of Goods Act; or
  • the food manufacturer, because the food was not safe under the Consumer Protection Act.

If you do want to claim, you will probably need to keep evidence that the food was contaminated. If the food made someone ill, you may need a doctor's report to prove it.

It is illegal to put unsafe food on sale, and the labels, advertising and presentation of food must not be misleading.

If you think you were made ill by food in a restaurant, you could claim compensation for:

  • the cost of the meal;
  • pain and suffering caused by the illness; and
  • any loss of earnings or other expenses (for example, for time off work when you were ill or to pay for childcare).

If it is a very serious case, you should seek advice from a specialist injury solicitor. See the CLS Direct leaflet 'Personal Injury' for more information.

The Food Safety Act 1990 says it is illegal to serve food that is not fit for people to eat. You should tell the local council's Environmental Health Department (for the area the restaurant is in).

8. What are my rights if I buy on credit ?

9. Dealing with problems with services

10. What the law says a service provider must do

11. Ways to sort out your problem

12. Further help

13. About this leaflet

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Sue Bloomfield, a freelance consumer affairs writer.

Leaflet Version: May 2019

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