If you have unknowingly bought an item which was fake or counterfeit, then you have a right to claim a refund, even if the seller did not know that the item which they were selling was not the genuine article. You should also report the seller to Trading Standards to prevent them from selling counterfeit goods again in future. Whilst Trading Standards are able to take legal action against the seller, they will not be able to help you to get your money back if you have been sold a fake item.
Obtaining a Refund
Your first step should be to visit, talk to or write to the company who sold you the counterfeit items. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the item must match its description, and if it does not then you are entitled to a full refund.
The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 also reiterates that sold items must match their written/verbal description. The seller can offer you a genuine item as a replacement for the fake one, although you do not have to accept this if you return the item within 30 days after purchase. If the return is made after 30 days and up until 6 months after the purchase, a genuine replacement item is considered to be sufficient. If they are unable to provide a genuine replacement item for you, then they must give you a full refund.
If you purchased the item more than 6 months ago, you may still be entitled to some of your money back, although it can be much harder to arrange this. You will be expected to prove that the item is not a fake one, and you may have to get an expert to testify to this on your behalf. The amount of money that you will be entitled to in these circumstances can also depend on the age of the item and how much you have used it.
If the seller refuses to comply with your request
Some sellers try to avoid their legal responsibilities, especially if the items in question are cheap or small. They may argue that you must have known that the item was a fake when you bought it, however this is not a reasonable defence. They have broken the law by knowingly selling fake goods and therefore you still retain your legal rights.
If you paid by debit card and the purchase was made in the last 120 days, you can speak to your bank about reclaiming the value of the product using the “chargeback scheme“. If the item cost less than £100 and you paid by credit card, then the same scheme applies. If you paid more than £100 for the item and paid using your credit card, then you can apply for a refund using a “Section 75” claim.
If you bought the product online using PayPal within the last 6 months, then you should speak directly with PayPal’s online Resolution Centre.
Reporting the Seller
Although you have no legal obligation to report the seller to Trading Standards, your report could prevent the trader from selling fake goods to other buyers. Trading Standards will seek to investigate the seller and prosecute those who break the law.
You should also consider reporting them to ActionFraud. This police database helps to monitor the scale of trading fraud and the sale of counterfeit goods across the whole of the UK. Understanding the scale of the problem can help the police to understand where they need to target their resources in future so that they can help to reduce crime levels.