BRIEFING: What’s new under the Consumer Rights Act

The Consumer Rights Act becomes law on 1 October 2015 and it will simplify, strengthen and modernise UK consumer legislation.

The Consumer Rights Act consolidates three big pieces of consumer law – the Sale of Goods Act, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act.

The changes brought in by the Consumer Rights Act include:

Improved rights if your purchase turns out to be faulty:

  •  30 day rule: For the first time a statutory time frame has been created in which you can return a faulty item back and get a full refund – this is now 30 days
  • A new remedy system: The law on faulty goods, digital content and services means your rights to a refund are more clearly set out. Whether you’re entitled to a refund on goods depends on how long you’ve owned the product. After one failed attempt by the retailer to repair or replace a faulty good, you’re entitled to ask for a refund or price reduction. Finally, if you don’t want a refund or price reduction, you have the right to request another repair or replacement at no cost to you.
  •  If you qualify for a refund, in the first six months after you‘ve bought something retailers now have to give you all your money back. The only exception to this is motor vehicles, where a reasonable reduction may be made for the use you’ve had of the vehicle.

Bespoke protection for digital purchases:

  • For the very first time consumers’ rights have been laid out in relation to digital content online. The new rules will cover pretty much any digital content –anything you download or stream – including apps, music, movies, games or ebooks.

Crack down on unfair terms in consumer contracts:

  • The Consumer Rights Act also makes make it easier for consumers to challenge hidden fees and charges. Now the key terms of a contract, including price, may be assessed for fairness unless they are both prominent and transparent.  This is an improvement for consumers because previously such terms were exempt from a fairness test if they were written in plain language.  If a term is unfair then a company won’t be able to enforce it.

If you want to find out more we’ve produced a guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said:

“Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s shoppers. Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler.

“Businesses must ensure their staff are aware of the changes so they’re not caught out short-changing customers or breaking the law.”

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