What steps should I take if a supplier delivers goods that are not of a satisfactory quality?

If you are unhappy with the quality of goods supplied, prompt action is needed to ensure you can take full advantage of the options available.

Gwendoline Davies, head of commercial dispute resolution at law firm Walker Morris, says that suppliers frequently try to rely upon their terms and conditions to limit liability, and a supplier’s initial response to a complaint may be to deny liability altogether.

A common example is a supplier seeking to rely upon a term which provides for notification of quality issues within a strict period – say within seven days of delivery. However, a supplier may not have the right to do this.

Davies says retailers need to understand the terms of contract and the general law surrounding this issue in order to respond effectively.

‘Satisfactory quality’ means that goods supplied must meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory – taking into account, for instance, their description and price. Where goods are not of ‘satisfactory quality’ you have the right to reject them and get your money back.

If you want to exercise the right to reject the order, you need to avoid both delay and accepting the goods in the first place.

“Whether the supplier can insist on this depends on whether a court would find the restriction reasonable,” says Davies. “A supplier may know that such clauses are not reasonable, but seek to rely on them unless challenged. As the buyer,  you need to know your rights and not be deflected by the supplier’s arguments,” she says.