Consumer rights

Consumer rights when buying from private sellers

Nowadays, more and more people choose to buy the products they need from private sellers. Very often, these sales are made online via platforms that facilitate the sale and purchase between individuals.

While such purchases may result in savings, buyers should however be aware that private sales are excluded from consumer protection rules, which may result in less legal protection in the event of a problem with the purchased product. Hence the importance for buyers to take extra precautions when choosing to buy from private sellers.

Consumer law excludes private sales because this legislation only regulates transactions between businesses and consumers. This means that goods sold by individuals do not necessarily have to be free from defects. If defects in the products are apparent or if the products are sold as tale quale, buyers may not be legally entitled to seek redress from the seller. To be able to claim a remedy, buyers will have to prove that they were misled during the sale.

To avoid trouble, buyers are advised to shop carefully. First, buyers should check if there are any reviews of the seller from previous buyers. Sellers with bad reviews should obviously be avoided.

Also, since the goods for sale are usually second-hand, buyers are advised to always view them in person before making any advance payments. If the purchase is to be completed online and payment will be made before physical inspection of the goods, buyers are advised to use a secure service that provides buyer protection. Direct transfers should be avoided. Additionally, buyers should request that a trackable postal service be used.

Consumer law excludes private sales because this legislation only regulates transactions between businesses and consumers-Odette Velle

When you are interested in buying used mechanical or electrical goods, these items should always be checked by a trusted professional before closing the sale. Additionally, buyers should ensure that they receive the receipt of payment and full contact details from the seller. It is also important to have tangible proof of any specific arrangements and keep a copy of all documentation relating to the purchase in case there is a dispute.

If the seller announces that the product is still covered by a valid commercial guarantee, a copy of the guarantee document must be provided. Buyers should check if the warranty can be transferred to other owners. If the commercial warranty does not include a specific clause prohibiting the transfer of the warranty, then any subsequent owner of the product may benefit from the warranty until its expiry.

If the property purchased does not correspond to the description made by the seller or has a hidden defect not mentioned by the seller before the sale, the buyer may claim compensation for breach of contract. However, unless the buyer is in possession of documentation proving that the item sold was misdescribed by the seller, it may be difficult to prove the breach. In all cases, the dispute must be addressed in priority to the seller.

Any communication is preferably in writing. In this correspondence, the seller must be informed of the problem and the solution that the buyer expects. If the seller is unwilling to resolve the issue, buyers will need to consider the value of the product and determine if it is worth going to court.

Furthermore, before taking any legal action against the seller, buyers are advised to consider whether they have sufficient evidence to support their case and may also need to seek independent legal advice on their right to compensation under the Civil Code.

Odette Vella is Director, Information and Research Branch, MCCAA


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