Ask LH: Do I Have To Offer A Warranty On Stuff I Sell At A Garage Sale?

Hi Lifehacker, I'm planning on having a garage sale in a month or so in preparation for moving house. The stuff I'll be selling includes a number of electronic goods. I was wondering: what happens with warranties? Can I put up a clear 'no refunds' sign? I do plan on being 100 per cent honest and open about everything, but can only do so much testing. Thanks, Selling Out

Garage sale picture from Shutterstock

Dear SO,

I'd personally avoid putting up a 'No Refunds' sign. This is tantamount to admitting you don't trust your wares which will give a decidedly dodgy impression to prospective buyers. They will be rightfully suspicious of everything you're selling and may haggle the price accordingly.

According to ACCC guidelines, a customer waives their rights to a repair, replacement, refund, cancellation or compensation when engaging in one-off transactions with private sellers. This includes garage sales, which fall under the 'buyer beware' umbrella. So from a legal standpoint, you're not obligated to offer a refund whether you put up a sign or not.

A disgruntled buyer could technically take you to court for selling them goods under false pretenses, but the chances of this happening are extremely low (especially if we're talking a handful of cheap electronics). I also suspect that such a case would be very difficult for the buyer to win -- as demonstrated above, you haven't actually violated any of their consumer rights as recognised by law.

With that said, honesty is always the best policy. Be upfront about how thoroughly you tested each item, how old they are and the amount of use they've seen. In addition, keep your pricing at 'bargain basement' levels on stuff you're unsure about -- just in case it does conk out.

You can find plenty of additional advice on how to hold a garage sale via the following links:


    The other option is to run out an extension cord and allow people to operate something to prove to themselves it works (where that is appropriate obviously).

    People tend to be a little more willing to buy second-hand electronics if you offer at least some kind of assurance - just saying 'I've only done brief tests, if you find a major problem in the next couple of days I'll happily give you a refund'. I've yet to have anything returned.

    You could also just demo it for them. Keep most of the electronics in one section and run an extension cable right to the table, and they can see for themselves that your blender makes a great smoothie.

    I tend to have most electrical goods (usually console or IT stuff) running as they are effectively on display. That said my folks once sold a fridge at a garage sale that was connected and running only to have some guy buy it then claim it didn't work when he got it home. Long story short they weren't going to refund it as it was working when he brought it. How he transported it home was not their issue.

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