As from 1 October, the new Consumer Rights Act is in force, bringing in a raft of measures designed to give greater protection to customers and clarity about obligations for retailers.
Under the Act, anyone who buys faulty goods will be entitled to a full refund for up to 30 days after the purchase, rather than, as previously, for a “reasonable time”. The Act also covers second-hand goods, when bought through a retailer.
There are new rights concerning digital content and purchases, with the Act giving consumers a clear right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online film and games, music downloads and e-books. If a download infects a computer with a virus, the provider could also be liable to pay compensation for getting the virus removed. However, the Act does not give a right to a refund on faulty digital content.
For the first time there are clear rules for what should happen if a service is not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed (for example by a mechanic or hairdresser). In such cases the business that provided the service must make amends to bring it back in line with what was agreed with the customer or, if this is not practical, make some financial reparation.
Additionally, the Act brings a new service for resolving disputes. When disputes occur, consumers will now be able to take their complaints to certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers, a cheaper route than going through the courts.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, welcomed the Act, saying: The new laws should make it easier for people to understand and use their rights, regardless of what goods or services they buy.
More details about the Consumer Rights Act can be found at the Citizens Advice website.