Consumer guarantee – goods will match description or sample

Description of goods must be accurate

Suppliers and manufacturers guarantee that the description of goods for example, in a catalogue or television commercial is accurate. This does not apply to goods bought at auction.

Matching description

If the goods do not match the description for example, the goods are a different colour or size, the consumer is entitled to a remedy. A ‘remedy’ is an attempt to put right a fault, deficiency or a failure for example, repair, replacement or refund.

A supplier or manufacturer cannot argue that the consumer inspected the goods before purchase and should have picked up any errors in the description.

Matching sample or demonstration model

Suppliers and manufacturers also guarantee goods will match any sample or demonstration model shown to the consumer.


A sample of fabric is used to sell a couch but the couch delivered to the consumer is a different colour from the sample. The consumer has a right to a remedy.

This guarantee does not apply to goods bought at auction.

Hidden defects

Goods sold by relying on a sample or demonstration model must not have any hidden defects.

A hidden defect is a problem that would:

  • make the goods of unacceptable quality; and 
  • not be noticeable to someone looking at the goods.

Unavoidable differences

The guarantee that goods will match any sample or demonstration model applies even if the differences are unavoidable, provided they are substantial.


If shading, piling or colouring in an installed woollen carpet is substantially different from the sample used to sell it, the consumer may be entitled to a remedy.

Reasonable time to compare the goods

The consumer must be given a reasonable amount of time to compare the goods with the original sample. This does not apply to demonstration models.


A consumer buys a car based on a demonstration model shown to them by the car dealer. The dealer can sell the demonstration model to someone else – he does not have to keep it to allow the consumer to compare their car to that model.

However, a furniture retailer would easily be able to keep a sample of the fabric used to sell a couch, to allow a consumer to compare it with the couch supplied.

If the consumer is shown a sample or demonstration model and given a description of the goods, the goods must match both.

Last modified: