The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The main parts of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 come into force today – the 1st of October 2015.

The Consumer Rights Act replaces a number of laws with regard to business-to-consumer transactions, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

The Act is a part of the Government’s reform of the UK’s consumer landscape which aims to make it easier for consumers to understand and access their key rights, including:

  • The right to clear and honest information before you buy;
  • The right to get what you pay for;
  • The right to goods and digital content being fit for purpose, and services being performed 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.

There are some important changes, for instance if a consumer buys second hand goods from a business they now have the same rights as if they were buying brand new products. Consumers have 30 days to demand a replacement or full refund for a faulty item.

There are some areas which will be uncomfortable for sellers of digital products, if a download doesn’t work the retailer won’t have to refund, but they will have to make a replacement available – you can just imagine the tech support calls this might entail when a consumer’s device is at fault! Additionally (and perhaps more worryingly), if the download “causes damage to a device or to other digital content” (intended to be if it contains a virus) then the retailer is liable to paying compensation to get the virus removed. Again proving that it wasn’t your download which caused the issue could be problematic.

Introduced in July this year, Alternative Dispute Resolution providers are now available to help as a quicker and cheaper alternative to going through the courts.

The new legislation also opens the door for “collective proceedings” – US style Class Actions – where one person sues and everyone else affected is automatically included in the same case. Look out for the first UK case, possibly against a utility company or a train company that persistently runs late, although I suspect that sooner or later someone will decide to sue eBay as they’re a classic target for such law suits in the US.

As a retailer you will want to read the new legislation in full. There are countless overviews online and on Tamebay we’ll be looking more deeply at sections of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 over the coming weeks.