New proposals for consumer rights
The government has launched a new consultation on a consumer bill of rights, seeking your views on strengthening and modernising consumer law. This involves giving consumers the ability and the confidence to assert basic consumer rights when faced with shoddy goods or services.
Quite frankly the UK’s laws are a mish mash of outdated laws covering the likes of the Distance Selling Regulations and Sales of Goods Act amongst others. Most consumer law was written about thirty years ago and does not clearly cover digital content like music, software or games. The consultation proposes clear rights for consumers of digital content to bring the law up to date.
It covers everything from should a retailer be able to give a partial refund if a consumer has had use of faulty goods for a period of time to whether a consumer has a right to a refund for digital content.
The main aims of the consumer rights consultation
• Clarify the nature of consumers’ rights and remedies in relation to the supply of goods, which is currently an area where the law is unnecessarily complex.
• Bring the services regime more in line with the regime for goods, by strengthening consumer rights and remedies in relation to faulty services. The changes proposed include establishing a statutory guarantee and statutory remedies when the rights are breached, and the consultation also asks whether there should be a new legal right to certain services being judged on their outcome, rather than the way they are performed.
• Modernise the law on digital content to protect consumers, by establishing a clear digital content regime with its own tailored set of rights and associated remedies.
Norman Lamb, Minister for Consumer Affairs said “Businesses will benefit from the simplified set of rules, which are intended to clear up customer issues more quickly“. As an online retailer if you want to add your input to the consultation you have until the 5th October 2012 to make your views known.
Whilst this is still in the consultation stage it’s likely to impact every retailer and service supplier in the country, whether or not they trade online. We’d therefore encourage you to complete the online questionnaires on “Goods“, “Services” and “Digital Content” to ensure that your voice is heard.