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The new Consumer Rights Act comes into force

The new Consumer Rights Act comes into force

Category: Money

Updated: 01/10/2015
First Published: 01/10/2015

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Today marks the biggest shake up to consumer rights law in decades, with the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 officially coming into force. But what does it mean for you? We take a closer look.

What is the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

The Consumer Rights Act essentially replaces three key pieces of legislation – the Sale of Goods Act, the Supply of Goods and Services Act, and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations – and brings them together under one piece of consumer law, with added consumer protection thrown in. It's designed to make things clearer and easier to understand for consumers and retailers alike, and if problems arise, they'll be settled quicker.

The legislation covers what should happen when goods are faulty or there are unfair terms on a contract, what you should do when a business is acting in a way that isn't competitive, what your rights are in terms of product quality and how to make a claim should goods not meet your standards, and that's just for starters. Basically, the Act clarifies what your rights are when it comes to the sale of goods, not only taking legislation from the previous laws, but tightening them as well.

The rules have also been extended, and rather than solely applying to traditional or "standard" goods and services (such as white goods, cars, appliances, etc.), they now include digital content, such as ebooks and music downloads, too. This offers the modern consumer a whole other level of protection, something that they've never had before. Not only that, but the right to a refund for faulty goods has been set at a specific timeframe of 30 days, rather than the "reasonable timeframe" of previous legislation.

Key rules

Here's a quick overview of some of the key rules and changes that you can look forward to with the new act:

  • Digital content: Should your online films, games, music or ebooks be faulty in any way, you'll now have the same kind of protection as if you'd bought the physical items. Essentially, you'll have a clear right to repair or replacement of any web-based content should it fail to work as expected.
  • 30-day refunds: You'll now have a set timeframe of 30 days to return faulty goods and demand a full refund. After 30 days, you're entitled to ask the retailer for a repair or replacement (see below).
  • Unfair terms of contract: Notice any hidden fees or charges in a contract? It'll now be easier to challenge the retailer, as the new rules state that the key terms of a contract – including price – can be assessed for fairness.
  • Product quality: As in the Sale of Goods Act, a product should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. This now encompasses both physical and digital goods, and can even apply to services (services should always match up to what's been agreed, and when they don't, the consumer has a right to ask for the service to be brought up to standard or can request money back).
  • The right to claim: If a product fails to meet the required standards, you have the right to make a claim for a full refund within 30 days of the purchase. If it falls outside that timeframe, you're entitled to ask the retailer for a repair or replacement of the goods. If the attempt is unsuccessful, you can claim a refund or price reduction if you wish to keep the product. If neither is suitable, you have the right to request another repair or replacement at no cost to you.

This is just an overview, of course, and there can be variations according to the specific item you purchase (cars, for example, come with slightly different refund rules), but hopefully you've got a better idea of how the new Consumer Credit Act could benefit you. Quite simply, if you're not happy with any goods or services you've purchased, you don't have to put up with it, so get complaining!

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.