A Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015

Consumer Rights Act 2015 legal crest

 

 

 

The Consumer Rights Act 2015
This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended:

Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973 will cover business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Sale of Goods Act 1979/ Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 will still apply to business to business contracts and to consumer to consumer contracts.
Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 will cover business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 will be replaced
Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 will cover business to business and consumer to consumer contracts only.
Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 will be replaced.

For goods and services purchased before October 1st 2015 see this post.

For more details on how the Consumer Rights Act 2015 covers digital goods, see this post. For more on using this law see this Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively.

The sale and supply of goods
The person transferring or selling the goods must have the right to do so and the goods must be of a satisfactory quality. Goods must be of a standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory. Quality is a general term, which covers a number of matters including:

  • fitness for all the purposes for which goods of that kind are usually supplied – appearance and finish
  • freedom from minor defects
  • safety
  • durability

In assessing quality, all relevant circumstances must be considered by the retailer, including price, description, and their own or the manufacturer’s advertising. Goods must:

  • be fit for a particular purpose. When you indicate that goods are required for a particular purpose, or where it is obvious that goods are intended for a particular purpose and a trader supplies them to meet that requirement, the goods should be fit for that specified purpose.
  • match the description, sample or model. When you rely on a description, sample or display model the goods supplied must conform
  • be installed correctly, where installation has been agreed as part of the contract.

The consumer can reject the goods within 30 days unless the expected life of the goods is shorter e.g. highly perishable goods. You can also choose repair or replacement in this time and up to 6 months after purchase as it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of delivery unless the trader can prove otherwise or unless this assumption is inconsistent with the circumstances (for example, obvious signs of misuse). If accepting repair you still retain your legal rights.

If more than six months have passed, you have to prove the defect was there at the time of delivery. You must also prove the defect was there at the time of delivery if you exercise the short-term right to reject goods. Some defects do not become apparent until some time after delivery, and in these cases it is enough to prove that there was an underlying or hidden defect at that time.

All these rules also apply for distance selling and digital goods.

The Act defines ‘digital content’ as meaning ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form’. Therefore a huge array of digital-format products fall within this definition such as:

  • computer games
  • virtual items purchased within computer games
  • television programmes
  • films
  • books
  • computer software
  • mobile phone apps
  • systems software for operating goods – for example, domestic appliances, toys, motor vehicles, etc. In many cases digital content is supplied in a format that can be physically touched such as a Blu-ray disc containing a film. Increasingly, however, digital content does not have a tangible form – for example, a film downloaded to a computer or a virtual car purchased when playing a computer game.

[Tweet “All you need to know about your new legal rights #consumerrightsact”]

Digital content rights are slightly more complicated and you can find out more details here.

The contract for the supply of services
A contract is an agreement consisting of an offer and acceptance. When a consumer buys services from a trader, both parties enter into a contract which is legally binding. In order for a term to be binding it must clearly be part of the contract and be legal. Terms given to a consumer after the contract is made are not part of the contract and they have no effect. A contract can be verbal but it is advisable to detail important terms in writing so there can be no dispute later on.

All services should be carried out:

  • with reasonable care and skill.
  • information given verbally  or in writing to the consumer is binding where the consumer relies on it.
  • the service must be done for a reasonable price (if no fixed price was set in advance)
  • the service must be carried out within a reasonable time (if no specific time was agreed)

You have up to 6 years in which you can bring a claim against a trader.

Unfair contracts
The law creates a ‘fairness test’ to stop consumers being put at unfair disadvantage. A term is unfair if it tilts the rights and responsibilities between the consumer and the trader too much in favour of the trader. The test is applied by looking at what words are used and how they could be interpreted. It takes into consideration what is being sold, what the other terms of the contract say and all the circumstances at the time the term was agreed. There is an exemption for the essential obligations of contracts – setting the price and describing the main subject matter – provided the wording used is clear and prominent. There is also an exemption for wording that has to be used by law. If you have been misled into making a decision that you would otherwise not have made then the company is in breach of this law.

The Consumer Rights Act contains equivalent rights and protections to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. This means that, though there may be some technical differences in the way these aspects are implemented, from a consumer’s point of view there would be no difference – under the Consumer Rights Act the consumer may argue that a term is unfair in the same way as they would have under the aforementioned Acts.

When you use this Act please also follow 20 Top Tips for Complaining and why you should write not phone.

 

 

To ensure that you know your rights and how to use them take a look at How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results, as one reviewer says you’ll get more than your money back the first time you use it!

 

 

 

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95 thoughts on “A Guide to the Consumer Rights Act 2015”

  1. I bought an item from a seller through Amazon but the wrong goods were sent. I contacted the seller and they admitted they had made an error and I should send the goods back for a refund. Halfway through explaining that I am disabled and housebound and have no-one to go to the Post Office for me they got nasty and hung up on me. Amazon have advised I must send the goods back but no-one is really listening to my problem. I can’t afford to lose the money I paid for the goods and I can’t afford the Taxi fare of £15 to go to the Post Office, so what do I do now.? The regulations don’t seem to cover my particular situaation. The company has since sent me a prepaid label to print off but what use is that? I have looked at the company’s website and they say return through the Post Office is the only one they will accept so if I arranged for a courier service I would have to pay, Either way I am out of pocket due to the seller’s carelessness.

    1. You should not be out of pocket. The laws states this. However, it may be in their terms and conditions that the only way to return is through PO. Ultimately would be for a court to decide whether this was a fair contract term and whether it thought it was reasonable to expect to pay further delivery costs. However, Equality Act may also come into play if they are discriminating against you because of a disability. Write, do not phone so you have evidence. Follow the Tips in the link above, explain the situation and say legally you should not be out of pocket. You’re welcome.

  2. I booked a holiday with Teletext holidays and was told that the price shown on their website was for a classic room of which the hotel had none available, I was offered an upgrade to a superior room for a further £219 per person , which I agreed to do.
    The confirmation came through stating a classic room , I then checked with the hotel and that is what they booked, despite charging us for an upgraded room. Teletext are refusing to acknowledge that this is the case, despite still advertising the same holiday, at a price lower that I paid.
    I feel this is quite clearly misrepresentation as I have not been given what I paid for. Would this be covered under the consumer rights act 2015, or does it constitute a “significant change” under the Package travel, holidays & tours Regulations 1992?
    The airline (BA) also have no recored of us as passengers despite the departure date being only 5 days away….

  3. Hi

    After my tenancy ended my letting agent hired a cleaning company (we are in a dispute about the charges). The unusual part is the letting agent supplied the cleaning company with my name, so the invoice is in my name not the letting agent’s. Does this fall under this act? I am essentially receiving a service in my name that I never authorized or agreed to, I cannot see anything in my lease that gave them the power to do this.

    Cheers

    1. Firstly, the deposit should have been protected, if not you can legally argue for the return of three times the value of the deposit.
      If it is protected, and it can’t be resolved with the agents then you need to register the Dispute with the protection scheme. The case will be adjudicated based on evidence.

      Things to look at. Was the property cleaned professionally at the beginning of the tenancy and if so was there a clause in the tenancy agreement that the property is professionally cleaned at the end? If yes, you should have a say over who does this, and of course the cost. If the letting agents have arranged the cleaning, on behalf of you then they should have informed you and given you the opportunity to contract your own, and then of course the contract is between you and the cleaning firm. What were the requirements in the tenancy agreement re cleaning? Was there an inventory done at the beginning detailing cleanliness? Was there one done at the end? Have the two been compared? Did the agents inform you and give them you a chance to contract your own? Is the deposit protected? If so, this cleaning charge can be disputed via the protection scheme.

      These are things you should consider. Also see https://www.tenancydepositscheme.com/resources/files/Tenancy%20Deposit%20Dispute%20Case%20Studies%20-%20Cleaning.pdf which gives lots and lots of advice on what you can do. The ARLA website and TDS website have good info on there re disputes.

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