Consumer Rights Act 2015

The 1st of October sees a change in consumer law. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will see revisions to the rights for consumers to make it clearer, fairer and bring it up to date to also cover digital content.

Some of the key points covered are:

  • What should happen when goods are faulty (including a 30 day window to return faulty goods).
  • Unfair terms in a contract.
  • What happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive.

There is also new protection in two areas for:

  • Digital purchases (such as downloadable games, e-books or online films) and what should happen if goods are inadequate or faulty.
  • How services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill. (e.g. giving some money back if it is not practical to bring the service into line with what was agreed).

Source: gov.uk

When the new act was given Royal Assent in March 2015 the then Business Secretary, Vince Cable, described it as:

“The biggest shake up of consumer law for a generation, bringing legislation in line with the fact many people now buy online.”

In May 2015, some new rules of the Consumer Rights Act already came into force. These are:

  • Letting agents are required to publicise a full tariff of their fees – this applies in England only.
  • Additional requirements on those selling tickets via secondary ticketing channels (such as Ebay, StubHub and licensing requirements for street traders or ticket touts).

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In the event that a dispute can’t be resolved consumers can seek what is known as Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).

In certain areas customers can already seek ADR through related industry bodies. These include Ofgem for the energy providers, the Financial Ombudsman Service for financial services and the Civil Aviation Authority for the travel Industry.

As some consumer areas may not have a designated regulator the Consumer Ombudsman would be a useful place to start. They can help as an independent body to help you resolve a dispute with a company.

Though before you speak to any relevant regulator the Consumer Ombudsman advise that you try to seek resolution with the provider first.

But if the company you have a dispute with isn’t forthcoming to resolve the dispute through ADR then there may be little you could do other than to pursue legal action. 

Further Reading

To see how the 2015 Consumer Rights Act could affect everyday transactions and purchases take a look at the Citizens Advice website which features a number of scenarios where the act would apply.

There’s a PDF version of the 2015 Consumer Rights Act on the legislation.gov.uk website.