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This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended: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

 

How to deal with JD Sports poor customer service

 

The nice Scotts/JD Sports T shirt
The nice Scotts/JD Sports T shirt

Andrea bought a Penguin Pocket Red T shirt from Scotts, part of the JD Sports chain paying £29.00. The shirt had been worn once and washed once and she returned it to the store two weeks later. She was told that the t shirt would need to be sent off for inspection despite the notice in their store saying that this would be done when items were over 90 days old.

 

Clearly a fault with JD Sports T shirt?!
Clearly a fault with JD Sports T shirt?!

She received a letter back saying that the fault was due to “contact damage”. Utterly ridiculous, what contact damage and by whom given as we believe that the hole was there at point of purchase and if it wasn’t it developed within one day’s wear and day’s wash and the hole was in the stitching which the photograph alone showed! 

 

Clearly a breach of the Sale  and Supply of Goods Act!  (From the 1st October 2015 you would now quote Consumer Rights Act 2015.) Andrea then wrote and didn’t receive a response. She emailed again and was told that they hadn’t received the letter (despite it being signed for!) but would do another inspection. She then contact me and I wrote this for her to send the CEO:

 

Dear Mr Cowgill

I received a letter from xxxx department to which my complaint was passed. However, I have already written to this department and part of my complaint was how they dealt with it. In fact the matter has now got worse. Scotts has rejected my claim regarding the faulty product. It has now since said that my letter can’t be found even though it was sent recorded delivery and was signed for, for which I obviously have proof. I am now being told to resend the t shirt. I am not going to do this. I have already sent this once and see no reason why I should be put to yet more inconvenience due to Scott’s appalling service. Under the amended Sales of Goods Act 1979 I am entitled to goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. This t shirt clearly breaches that.

 

I expect a full refund and appropriate redress for the inconvenience caused. I look forward to hearing from you within seven days. Should I not be fully satisfied with your response I will start proceedings in the Small Claims Court against you with no further reference to you. I will be claiming for the cost of the t shirt, the cost of an independent report stating that the t shirt has only been washed once, cost of postage (recorded delivery etc.) redress for my time spent on the matter, the court fee and out of pocket expenses for attending court (e.g. work time, mileage, parking costs etc.)

Yours sincerely

 

Andrea received a call from the manager of Customer Services saying that they said they don’t think they were in breach of consumer rights (I beg to differ) but as a goodwill gesture they would refund the full amount in a voucher (I had told Andrea not to accept this, cash refund only to which he then agreed) plus £20 gift voucher on return of the t shirt. A good result in the end but the matter didn’t end there.

 

Unfortunately, Andrea wrote to customer services to say that she had thought about the conversation and couldn’t she just dispose of the garment? She received an email back to say that if she did not return the garment she would not get a refund. You must keep to your agreements you make with customer services otherwise why should they keep theirs? They were paying the postage for the return and providing a goodwill gesture so it is not unreasonable for the item to be returned, they might want it for quality control or tax purposes. It’s a fair enough statement to say no return no refund and Andrea was receiving a goodwill gesture for the inconvenience.

 

However, the matter did not end there. As often is the case in customer services, the internal communication was appalling and Andrea received an email to say that they needed the t shirt for inspection and couldn’t over turn the decision! Meanwhile, Andrea had tried to use the gift card in store and was told that there was no money on it and it would take some days for it to appear. This is obviously nonsense. She wasted more time in store trying to deal with the matter.

 

I wrote again outlining the embarrassment and poor service plus the ridiculous email she received. Andrea received a further £20 goodwill gesture receiving this time a card for £40 that worked.

 

This story outlines one of the classic fob offs trying to say that the fault was not there at point of purchase. It also highlights the need to persevere sometimes and pursue your legal rights.

 

Would you like to email JD Sports CEO? Here you go – all the contact details. You’re welcome 🙂

 

 

For more information on how to complain effectively with tips, advice and template letters see the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

Rip Off Britain faulty goods

Top 20 Tips for Complaining Effectively