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This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended: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

Digital content

Rights are slightly more complicated see What you need to know about the Consumer Rights Act 2015 digital content for more details.

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!

 

 

 

Helen Dewdney talks to Rebecca Pike on Radio 2 Drive time about CRA

Moneybox Live Paul Lewis/Helen Dewdney

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively

 

Is social media an effective method for complaining?

I often get asked if social media has changed things in the way we complain. Not as much as people think I would say.

The twitter symbol How not to complain on TwitterSee also 5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should)

Twitter – Has it changed the way we complain?

Last year the One Show contacted me to ask my opinion on this subject and I gave it to them. Obviously. Like I wouldn’t give my opinion when asked, give it enough when not. Anyway, I told them that I didn’t think that it had changed the way we complain much. Communicate yes but not effectively complain. I gave my reasons knowing that it didn’t really fit with what they wanted and of course they chose someone else. However they chose someone who said that it had changed the way we complain because people could now tweet train companies and ask why there was a delay. That is not a complaint. That is asking for information. Information which should of course be given at the station but invariably is not. Using Twitter to ask these types of questions is great but it isn’t complaining. To complain about the train service you have to go through certain channels to have a chance of gaining any financial redress. Complaining is gaining redress is it not? Certainly complaining effectively would be otherwise it isn’t complaining it is having a moan or a go at someone/company.

Social media memorable complaint stories

There have been some great complaints on social media. David Caroll’s United Airlines and the man who paid for tweets to complain about BA losing his luggage (that worked out a penny a tweet though so why would you?) But these go viral because they provide something different not because the company has responded well to a complaint.

Remember O2 problems in 2012 with outage and thousands of people resorted to Twitter to complain? O2’s response was good humoured and worked really well. Making jokes about their bad days and responding to everyone turned a potential PR disaster into a positive one showing how positively they dealt with complaints. That was in 2012, most companies have got a long way to go in dealing with complaints generally as well as on social media.

More recently in 2018 people took to Twitter to complain about Kentucky Fried Chicken’s chicken shortage. Many hilarious tweets, what was better were KFC’s responses.

Some companies have even been known to delete complaints on their Facebook page. Shortsighted given that the person who has had their tweet deleted will post on their own page and get it shared, post on Twitter and get retweeted etc. Far better to engage properly. Mistakes happen and complaints arise, it is how they are dealt with that is important.

Complaining on social media – does it work?

Paul Lewis money chappie asked on Twitter the other week:

 rp_Paul-Lewis-300x159.jpg

The responses to Paul’s tweet were interesting. You can see his post here. Many people said it was quicker than phoning. But a) I very rarely ‘phone my complaints for many reasons and b) they were still having to email the issues in many cases. Others said that it was good for shaming. Others said it was good for getting a response but once into DMs and emails it dropped off again. (This is one of the reasons I ended up taking Tesco to court. My last shot was to engage the social media team but they were still unable to help.) No-one had any really complicated problem sorted but a few did get their issues sorted once the social media team got involved. It has been known for people to copy me into a tweet and have their issues resolved! That makes me laugh but people really shouldn’t have to do that.

What was also very interesting was what companies are alert and pro active in picking up their mentions whether included in the tweets to Paul or not. Very few!

My experiences

2014-04-30Ok, so you have seen me tweet to the likes of Tesco, Marks and Spencer and Sainsbury’s and gain redress. Yep. Now that’s where I love Twitter for complaining. A quick picture of damaged (or whatever fault) goods and a tweet and bingo, done. Tweet back asking for order details a dm and refund made. Perfect, probably takes the same length of time to do as an email but you have to find the email address (although obviously in my case they are all in my address book!) and they can take a long time to respond. It also saves going to the shop to take something back.

When it definitely doesn’t work

So that’s an example of social media working well. Basically where it is quick and simple it works really well. However anything more than something that can be sorted quickly, how can so few characters possibly work? When I had a problem ordering stuff with The Body Shop last Christmas I tweeted the problem and the delay in responding to me. They were overwhelmed by emails tweets and FB messages with the same complaint and it didn’t make any difference to the standard responses it was giving people. Nor did any issues get resolved. My detailed complaint to the CEO did get results though….!

Other ways of complaining

I always advocate writing over ‘phoning. See Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively and what to do and these apply when taking the matter into dms and emails after using social media. Update April 2016 I wrote Email, social media or phone? How do you prefer to complain? for Which? conversation with more on this whole area for people to discuss.

Rip Off Britain

Paul Lewis and I talk social media complaining on Rip Off Britain.

Rip Off Britain 24/09/14

BBC Breakfast 06/07/2016 social media and complaining

BBC Breakfast Helen Dewdney and Steph discuss complaining on social media 06/07/16

Conclusion

Generally speaking, and obviously I see complaining a lot(!) the responses to Paul’s tweet confirmed what I see, get told, advise on, as well as my own experience. Social media is another tool, nothing more and nothing less. It is another means for which you can complain. It has a place and I use it. It is quick, some companies are better than others at dealing with the complaints (usually coming down to training in communication, processes etc. and if staff have been adequately equipped with knowledge and are empowered). But it is still a mixed bag out there as to who is good and who isn’t.

How have you found complaining on social media? Which companies have you found to be good and bad at dealing with complaints via social media? Results of a survey found that 37% of those who use social media find it effective sometimes.

How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

For really effective complaining and ensuring you always get redress from complaints GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! template letters, advice, consumer laws and more!

 

 

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively