How does the Consumer Rights Act affect your money?
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on October 1, 2015, bringing with it enhanced - and easier to understand - rights for shoppers.
The act brought many updates for existing laws and also covers the sale of digital content as well as rules for rights in relation to services.
Here's how the Consumer Rights Act can benefit you.
New digital content rights
For the first time, digital content has been specifically referred to in an act relating to consumer rights.
This means you have the right to demand a working version of faulty digital content, whether that is granted to you via repair or replacement, or to a refund without undue delay.
If some of the content works but other parts don’t, you only have the right to receive a refund for the proportion of non-working content.
Either way, the trader must not demand a fee to process the refund.
Digital damage rights
If digital content causes damage to a device you own, or to other content held on that device, and it is the trader’s fault, the device must be repaired within a reasonable timeframe without further cost to you.
Alternatively, the business should compensate the customer with a reasonable sum of money to cover the cost of the damage.
Consumer rights on services
You have the right to receive services that are performed with “reasonable care and skill” at all times. Services should be carried out as explicitly agreed at the outset, and carried out within a sensible timeframe.
If you experience poor service
If the service provided is not up to scratch or performed as agreed, you can demand it be carried out again and the service provider should do so within a reasonable time.
They are not allowed to charge you for this repeated service.
Otherwise, you have the right to a price reduction, which is defined in the new act as an ‘appropriate amount’. This must be agreed upon between the customer and retailer, but could extend to a full refund in some circumstances.
Revised consumer rights
The Consumer Rights Act also saw various rights given a legal makeover, further empowering the customer in the case of faulty goods and unfair contractual terms.
Right to reject faulty goods
You are entitled to a 30-day period from the date of purchase (or delivery) to return goods to the retailer, who will then be obliged to provide a full refund. This is known as the ‘short-term right to reject'.
This is the first time your short-term right to reject has been given a specific timeframe – in previous acts, it was vaguely defined as a ‘reasonable time’.
‘Faulty’ goods are defined as those which are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose, not sold as described, or those that don’t match the goods seen by the customer before the purchase is made (for example if the received item didn’t match the display models out for inspection on the shop floor).
You can request a repair or replacement goods instead of a refund.
Faulty digital content
Digital content is also covered, so digital goods that don’t live up to their description or don’t perform the functions described at the point of sale may be rejected by the customer for a full refund.
Your right to a refund depends on how long you’ve had the product, and it would be wise to return a faulty product within the 30-day right to reject period where possible, to avoid a dispute.
But any refund provided to a customer within the first six months of ownership must be provided without deduction – the exception being if the item in question is a motor vehicle.
The act stipulates that any contract between a trader and a customer must make the price and any further charges clear to the customer, which essentially means that nothing can be hidden away in small print, but must be presented clearly 'up front'.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 invokes the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, which says that contractual clauses will only be binding “if the consumer can reasonably be expected to know how to access it,” and that any such information should be easily understandable.
The act also says that if a trader gives information about goods to a customer, and this influences the customer’s decision to make a purchase, the goods should conform to the description.
If they don't, then the trader is in breach of the contract, and the consumer has the right to a refund.
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