A deposit is a payment made to a retailer by a consumer which indicates an intention to buy a product or a service. The amount of the deposit and the timing of payment of the balance are a matter between the consumer and the supplier. When you pay a deposit for goods a contract is created between you as a consumer, and the supplier of the product or service. You should be clear at the time of paying a deposit what your obligations are (for example, when you need to pay the balance, how much each payment is). You should also be clear about the duties of the supplier (for example, when the product will be available).
It is always easier to know what your rights and responsibilities are if you have details of the contract in writing, however, a verbal contract is also enforceable. If the supplier does not adhere to the terms of the contract (for example, delivery of a product takes significantly longer than stated) you may have a right to ask for your deposit to be returned. If you pay a deposit to a supplier who, in return, holds an article for you and you change your mind about paying the balance the supplier may not in all these circumstances be obliged to return your deposit.
If you buy goods (or pay a deposit on them) and the seller goes out of business before they are delivered, you may have considerable difficulty in getting either the goods or your money back. Usually the seller in these circumstances owes money to a number of people so your claim is just one of many. There are rules for the priority to be given to the various debts in the case of the business going into liquidation or receivership. Generally, the individual customer is low in the order of priority. If you paid for the goods by credit card, it is worthwhile to contact the credit card company who may not have actually paid or may be able to cancel the payment – you do not have a right to have this done but the credit card company may be able to do it for you.