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Consumer Rights Act 2015 and what it means for you

Posted 14 October 2015

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New rules regarding refunds came into force October 1st 2015. Find out what it means for you here.

At the start of October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act came into force giving you – the consumer – an extra level of protection if you’re unlucky enough to purchase faulty, sub-standard goods.

If you buy something and then realise it’s faulty, instead of the retailer being able to decide on the number of days they’d like to give you to request a refund, they now have to give you 30 days. Before the changes, retailers could pretty much decide by themselves what they wanted to give as a refund period, with some giving as little as 14 days. This was because the wording of the legislation stated retailers only needed to offer refunds for a ‘reasonable time’. Now the law states exactly what they believe a reasonable time to be and once you’ve applied for a refund it must be given to you within 14 days.     

So now you are entitled to a refund if the goods or services you buy:

·         are not of a satisfactory quality – the goods must meet certain standards to justify the description and the price of the items.

·         are not fit for purpose – this means that the item must do what it claims to do and for a reasonable amount of time

·         do not meet you expectations as a consumer – this means when you buy something, a hair dye that claims to cover greys, for example, and when you use it you find it doesn’t actually cover greys, it won’t have met your expectations as a consumer

The Alternative Dispute Resolution route

And, if there’s any trouble with the retailer not wanting to give you a refund, you can now take your argument to a certified Alternative Dispute Resolution, often shortened to ADR, provider. This works much like the system for tenants who want to dispute how much of their deposit they are being given back. And, if you were thinking of taking a retailer to court for a refusal to give a refund, the judge will expect you to have tried ADR first. The Advice Services Alliance has produced a detailed leaflet on the subject of ADR called Why use ADR and another that shows you how to find someone to deal with you dispute called Finding and choosing a mediator.   

Some retailers are already signed up to the scheme, but not all, so even though this provision has been put in place, it’s still not available in every retailer. If it’s not available, there’s still help – you can still approach your local Trading Standards, who offer some resolution services.

Added Digital Protection too!

As well as extending the refund window, the changes also clarify the rights given to those buying digital products, giving them protection that’s been written into legislation for the first time. So, if you purchase something digitally, such as a book, album or game, and you find that it doesn’t work, or works poorly, you will be entitled to a replacement. And, if you download something and it infects your computer you will also be able to claim for the removal of the virus and repair of your machine too.

Services have also had extra protection added

The legislation also goes on to cover the purchase of a service that you feel was not carried out with the proper care. Now, this is quite wide-ranging and could apply to services you receive from hairdressers, solicitors, dry cleaners, shoe repairers, mechanics, painters and decorators, builders – you get the idea, it’s anyone who provides you with a service. So, if you’re not happy with the job, once it’s complete, you can ask for a refund or that the service provider put things right.

Second-hand love    

If you’re a lover of second-hand goods that you buy from retailers, rather than individual sellers, like second-hand cars, these purchases will now be covered by Consumer Rights Act 2015. If the item is described a certain way, it has to meet that description. It must also be fit for purpose and be of satisfactory quality. If it doesn’t meet any of these criteria, you are entitled to give the item back and ask for a refund or ask for suitable compensation. 

by Shelley Bowers

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