The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1st October with the aim to make the law surrounding consumer rights clearer and easier to understand. It should also allow the parties to resolve disputes more quickly and with less need to incur professional costs in doing so.
So what are the main changes? The legislation introduces new rights for consumers in two different areas:
- Consumers have the right to expect that where digital content that they have purchased, such as online films, games and books, is found to be faulty, these should be repaired or replaced.
- If a consumer buys anything that is faulty, whether in a shop or online, they have 30 days to obtain a full refund, rather than the supplier determining what is a “reasonable length of time” within which to return the goods. Consumers will also be entitled to some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement) even if more than 30 days have passed, rather than having to put up with repeated attempts to get a repair done.
- If services are not provided in line with the services purchased by the consumer, the law will be clearer in terms of how this will be dealt with. For example, the consumer might be entitled to some money back, particularly in circumstances where it is no longer possible for a business to provide the services in line with what was agreed (a typical situation could be where a caterer is hired for a party but does not turn up, meaning the services cannot be performed at all).
And what else should businesses know? "Even if terms and conditions of sale are in plain language (as opposed to being hidden in the ‘small print’), terms such as price can still be challenged on the basis of whether or not they are fair. This means that businesses need to ensure that terms are not unfair to the consumer," says Commercial Solicitor Karen Edwards. Public enforcers, such as Trading Standards, can also give 48 hours’ written notice of an inspection so businesses need to ensure that they are adhering to the new legislation.
Our Commercial Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and Karen or a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.