FAQs second-hand sales
Second-hand sales are a popular way for PTAs to raise
funds, but are you aware of the legislation that might apply?
Sylvia Rook, lead officer at the Chartered Trading Standards
Institute, tells us how PTAs can ensure everything's done
What legislation would apply to PTAs selling second-hand goods,
for example at a car boot sale?
The legislation that applies to car boot sales generally applies
to the sellers, not to the organisers, although you do have a
degree of responsibility to ensure that sellers at your event do
not commit any offences. Most of the Trading Standards legislation
applies to traders selling goods, as opposed to members of the
public (such as school families) who are simply having a clear-out,
so you will need to decide whether to allow traders to attend, or
whether to restrict the sale to members of the public selling their
What is a 'trader' and what does it mean for us as a PTA if
they attend our sale?
Generally speaking, it can be considered to be 'a person acting
for purposes relating to that person's trade, business, craft or
profession, whether personally or through another person acting in
the trader's name or on the trader's behalf'. When deciding whether
someone is a trader, consider: Are the goods the person is selling
their own personal property? If they buy goods specifically to
resell, or make goods to sell, they are likely to be a trader. Do
they regularly sell at car boot sales? If so, they are likely to be
considered a trader, even if this is not their main income. Do they
employ someone to help them sell the goods, or do they sell similar
goods at other venues (for example, markets or on auction sites)
and is the income received from selling in this way a significant
proportion of their income? If so, they are likely to be a
Are sellers obliged to behave in a certain way?
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
state that traders should not give false or misleading information,
or omit information, and should not act 'aggressively' if any of
these practices would cause the consumer to do something different.
Signs such as 'Sold as seen' or 'No refunds' are not permitted.
While the majority of Trading Standards legislation applies to
traders, best practice is for all sellers to follow the guidelines
to ensure that all goods are correctly described and, more
Our tabletop sales are really popular, so we'd like to draw up
some T&Cs for stallholders. What should we include?
There is no specific information that you are required to ask
for, but we would suggest you ask sellers to provide their contact
details in case there's a problem. Other things to include in your
terms might be:
Time of arrival and departure, and what sellers are expected to do
with their rubbish
The fact that any seller agrees to comply with all consumer
Stolen goods may not be sold
Cigarettes, tobacco products, alcohol and flammable liquids may not
No live animals may be sold
No counterfeit items may be sold
No weapons, ball-bearing guns or any realistic imitation firearms
may be sold.
You may wish to restrict the sale of electrical items to prevent
fire and injury. Consider whether you are happy for food items to
be sold. If you are, make it clear that items must be within their
use by/best-before date (if packaged), labelled appropriately
(particularly concerning allergens), and must be stored
appropriately. For further information, visit the Food Standards
The Consumer Protection Act 1987 and the General Product Safety
Regulations 2005 require all goods sold, including second-hand
goods, to be safe. In particular, there are specific safety
requirements for new items such as toys, cosmetics and electrical
goods. You may wish to restrict the sale of electrical items to
prevent fire and injury. Electrical goods don't have to have been
PAT tested, but they should be safe.
What should we do if we suspect a seller of selling counterfeit
Under the Trade Marks Act 1994, it is an offence to sell
counterfeit goods, for example DVDs, CDs, T-shirts, bags and
perfumes. If you suspect someone of selling fake products, you
should ask them to leave, and provide your local Trading Standards
office with their name and address.
What should we do if a customer is unhappy with a purchase,
e.g. a CD they bought is scratched?
The customer's rights are against the person from whom they
bought the CD, not against you as the organiser. Under the Consumer
Rights Act 2015, any goods sold by a trader must be of satisfactory
quality, fit for purpose and as described and, if they are not, the
customer has the right to their money back (or a repair or
replacement). However, when buying second-hand, there is always a
risk that items may be damaged, and there is a degree of 'caveat
emptor' (buyer beware).
These rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 don't apply if
the person selling the item was not a trader; in these
circumstances, the goods must be 'as described', but there is no
requirement that they should be of satisfactory quality. Buyers
always need to be careful when buying second-hand, particularly
when purchasing at a car-boot sale. It is worth noting that there
is no obligation for the seller to give a receipt, so it is up to
the consumer to ask the trader for their contact details at the
time of sale.
What age restrictions do we need to be aware of on the goods we
It is an offence for a trader to sell an age-restricted product
to an under-aged purchaser; this includes DVDs, computer games,
spray paint, party poppers and lighter refills. If any traders are
selling age-restricted goods, it is worth reminding them of the
restrictions, perhaps in your terms and conditions.
For more information
Advice for traders on the laws relating to the sale of goods can
be found at Business Companion, along with a helpful guide to car boot sales. Alternatively,
contact your local Trading Standards Office for advice and
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