The Government is proposing to improve protection for consumers who purchase goods or services (including those supplied in electronic form) from businesses.
Under the Consumer Rights Act, consumers have new rights with regard to goods that are not of satisfactory quality, do not meet the reasonable expectations of the consumer or are not fit for purpose.
The Act gives consumers ‘core rights’, which are as follows:
• The right to get what you pay for;
• The right that goods and digital content are fit for purpose and services are provided with reasonable care and skill; and
• The right that faults in what you buy will be put right free of charge, or a refund or replacement provided.
The existing consumer protections regarding quality, assurance of description and fitness for purpose are unchanged. A consumer’s right to reject goods which do not meet one of these tests remains (unless the goods are retained for an unreasonable period of time) as doesl the right to receive them within a reasonable period of time. These protections also include the right to claim a full refund within 30 days, or repair or replacement of faulty goods, for which the supplier must bear the full cost.
A procedure is also proposed for partial refunds to be made if repairs/replacements are not fully satisfactory or if services are not supplied in a reasonable time.
The rules relating to digital content are similar.
As regards services, these will have to be:
• provided with reasonable care and skill;
• compliant with relevant information given by the trade; and
• provided within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price.
Remedies for non-compliance include having the service repeated or a reduction in price.
In June 2014, extensive new consumer protection was introduced by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which enhance the rights for consumers that enter into ‘doorstep’ and distance selling contracts in particular.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 received the Royal Assent on 26 March and became law on 1 October 2015. It applies to virtually all contracts between traders and consumers for the sale of goods and services and the provision of digital content. The Act is extensive – it runs to more than 100 clauses and contains ten schedules – and is designed to offer consumers comprehensive protection and enhanced rights of redress.