1. What are the statutory requirements for the quality and condition of goods for sale? When am I considered to be a “consumer” under the Sale of Goods Ordinance?
The Sale of Goods Ordinance (“SGO”) provides that goods for sale must be:
- Of merchantable (satisfactory) quality. Goods must meet the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking account of any description of the goods, the price and all other relevant circumstances. The quality of goods includes their appearance and finish, their safety and their durability. Goods must be free from defects, even minor ones, except where these defects have been brought to your attention by the seller ( section 16 of SGO).
- Fit for their purposes, including any particular purpose mentioned by you to the seller. For example, if you are buying a CD player and you tell the seller that the player must also play DVDs, the seller must not give you a CD player that cannot read a DVD ( section 16 of SGO).
- As described on the package or a display sign, or by the seller. For example, if you are told that a shirt is 100% cotton, then it should not turn out to be cotton and polyester ( section 15 of SGO).
- Correspond with the sample. If you are making a bulk purchase and you were shown a sample of the goods before receiving the whole lot, the bulk shall correspond with the sample in quality. You should also be given the chance to examine the whole lot ( section 17 of SGO).
If the sellers fail to meet any one of the above conditions, they are "in breach of contract". Under these circumstances, consumers are entitled to reject the goods and demand a full refund (see: Acceptance or Rejection of Goods ).
You should also note that under section 36 of the SGO, the buyer has the right to be given reasonable time to inspect the goods.
"Consumer" as defined in the SGO
You are a "consumer" under section 2A of the SGO if:
- you neither make the contract in the course of a business (a commercial transaction) nor hold yourself out as doing so;
- the other party does make the contract in the course of a business (a commercial transaction); and
- the goods passing under or in pursuance of the contract are of a type ordinarily supplied for private use or consumption.
In other words, you are dealing as a "consumer" if you purchase goods from a businessman or a company for your private use (you are the end user) but not for business purposes (such as resell to another party for profit making).
"Goods" as defined in the SGO
The term "goods" is defined under section 2(1) of the SGO as personal property other than things in action and money. Personal property should also be distinguished from, and does not include, “real property” (which includes real estate such as land, buildings and flats).