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This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended: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 tips on how to complain effectively using this law see this post.

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 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!

 

 

 

The top 10 tips for winning in the sales

So, Christmas nearly upon on us and Boxing Day sales start. Making sure you know how to get the best deals, use your time wisely and knowing what to do when things go wrong will all help you grab the best bargains.

1) Plan what you want. Make a list of things you would quite like to buy. Don’t fall foul of the pack mentality that we saw on Black Friday. People fighting to grab the “bargains” and then saying “I didn’t even want a telly”.  It is not a bargain if you don’t really want it.

2) Make a list of the various stores you are likely to find those bargains. If you are going out to shop work out the best route to do to save you the most time and allows you to return to shops which you think you are most likely to want to return back having seen other stores.

3) Do your online research. Using your list, look up all the stores likely to have sales, mooch around the sites making a note of things that you would like if they were in the sale. Even put them in your basket so they are in there ready before other people if you intend to start at 12.00am on Boxing Day!

4) Think about next Christmas and presents that you will need to buy. Things like jewellery, toys, games and toiletries are always discounted everywhere and don’t have a best before date!

5) When shopping online use your list of items and compare prices. Just because it is discounted it does not mean that it is the best price. Use comparison websites too, or simply put the item into Google and see all the places the item is also sold.

6) When purchasing items online you now have 14 days in which you can change your mind and return the item under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013  if the item is faulty the retailer has to pay for return postage. If you just change your mind then it will be down to the retailer’s Terms and Conditions which will be listed on the website.

7) Watch out for delivery costs. These might make the items less of a bargain compared with another site. Some of the bigger more well known stores will offer free delivery for orders over a certain amount. Simply order something else to reach the free delivery amount, such as a gift you can put away or something you know you will need in the future and bingo, free delivery. Or use the “free delivery to store” option, you’ll still get to the bargains in time but should have a few days grace in which to pick up the item(s).

8) Whether purchasing items in the sale or not, if you return an item because you changed your mind or it is an unwanted gift then the retailer does not need to refund the item. (Many of the bigger retailers will, however usually by voucher and at the cheapest price the item has been sold at). However if the item is faulty, unless the fault was pointed out at point of purchase (e.g. this jumper is discounted because of a mark on the sleeve) then you are entitled to refund, replacement or repair. See here for more details.

9) You do not need to have a receipt but you do need a proof of purchase so a credit card bill for example is fine if you are returning goods.

10) If the retailer does not keep to delivery deadlines then you are entitled to redress.

Good luck in your bargain hunting and don’t be fobbed off when complaining! Lots of tips around the blog and of course in the book!

PS Don’t forget to use a cashback site when shopping online. The best I have found is Topcashback. To be transparent – that is a link that is mine and if you register from that I will get £5 or something when you have earned your first £10. Don’t forget when you register to get your own “Tell a friend link” to share with others.

 

 

 

 

Fewer than 45% of People in the UK Use their Consumer Rights

Well that was interesting. Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey How, When and Why Do You Complain?

Key findings

How many people complain?
According to this survey undertaken July 2014 70% of us complain when we receive poor service. This rises to 90% who complain when we purchase a faulty item. If you look to your own networks this doesn’t really ring true and I think many people put that they generally complain because they felt that they should! Or it is not every time they receive poor service. Or many of those complaints are not successful in gaining redress. This theory is backed up by answers to another question, “If you usually don’t complain is it because…” Now, 59% of respondents gave reasons and only 41% said that they always complained.  However, complaining is on the increase and the latter figures fit in with The Ombudsman’s report on complaining. 38 million customers complained in 2013. But 40 million more complaints went unaddressed as people stayed quiet. 48% and 52%.

In addition, as detailed below many more people are now using social media to complain and some people may consider writing a 140 character tweet as regularly complaining! It’s not necessarily always gaining redress and it’s very difficult to assert your legal rights in 140 characters!

46% say that when they don’t complain it is because it is too much effort or takes too much time.

Gaining redress
When considering purchasing an item/service either online or in store how easy it will be to gain redress if anything goes wrong is a factor in 74% of people’s decision making about where to buy (either sometimes or always). The same number of people shop online as do in store because they think it will be easier to return an item that way.

How well do you know your legal rights?
This is what I found the most interesting. Given that 70- 90% of people say they always complain, only 7% said they know their legal rights well and use them regularly. 5% know the basics of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act and Supply of Goods and Services Act. A further 33% will check out their rights before complaining, so assuming that they won’t always do that for various reasons, we know that fewer than 45% of people use their legal rights. So 7 + 5 + 33 = the 45% but I believe that is lower as some of the 33% won’t always check out their legal rights and complain.

Uswitch undertook a survey in May 2014 and found that almost two fifths of consumers (38%) are unsure about their rights and 36% say they do not know them well. Only 4% claim to be truly confident.

How many people do you tell about poor service?
Remember the line “Receive good service tell 1, receive poor service tell 10”? Not any more.
Less than 2% of people tell no-one.
49% tell 1 – 10 people
11% tell 10 – 20 and now
38% tell hundreds and sometimes thousands of people due to social media.
So companies be warned! It is wholly irrelevant how many complaints you actually receive! Less than 60% don’t always complain but look how many people are they telling?

Social media
68% of respondents use social media to complain.
37% of those find it effective sometimes
16% find it always effective
12% find it is never effective
Clearly social media is on the rise. There are more details on what social media works for in complaining here.

When you receive good service do you give feedback?
The majority of people think they do. I think some customer service people may disagree!

Summary
It would appear that people think they complain more than they do, certainly less know their legal rights. There is an increase in using social media to complain and whilst this may be considered complaining, it often doesn’t gain the legal redress that longer correspondence elicits. The main reasons for people not complaining are that it takes too much time and effort which might suggest that companies make it difficult to complain? Thoughts around how easy it is to gain redress when things go wrong are becoming a key factor in where people choose to buy.

People really need to complain more. If they did perhaps service would improve it would have to. And now, to help you, here’s a book! #complainlikeacow

How to Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and RESULTS! Take a look at the reviews too! #chuffed 🙂

Don’t forget, The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips Tips here and video here:

Why You Suck at Gaining Redress (and what to do about it)

So, you get poor service at the restaurant and don’t complain or if you do complain you don’t gain redress. You buy an item that’s faulty but don’t get a refund. Why?

You need the adjustment

1) Your expectations are too low. You think that the item was cheap so what do you expect? You think the meal you had at that place last time was bad so you aren’t surprised when it is again. If a kettle was bought to boil water it should boil water. Simple! If you buy a meal it should be made with reasonable skill and care. If you had a bad meal there last time you should have complained and maybe things would have improved!

2) You don’t know your legal rights. The main ones you need to know are The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (amended to the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994) and The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Items should be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose, be as described and last a reasonable length of time.

3) You think it will take too much time and effort. Going back to the shop arguing about refunds. Well, if you know your legal rights you won’t be arguing you’ll be assertive and if you still don’t gain redress you can take the matter further by which time you will be asking for more than a refund.

4) You shout at people on the ‘phone or in person. Would you give me what I wanted if I yelled at you? Think, be polite particularly as often the person or people at fault aren’t usually the people to whom you complain.

5) You’ve gone back to the wrong shop! Yes I have heard of this being done, frequently! Check your facts first.

6) You think that because you have lost the receipt that you can’t get your money back. Wrong. You just need proof of purchase such as a credit card bill.

7) You don’t like complaining and aren’t assertive. Fair enough, but seriously? You’d rather be out of pocket? If you are in the right you have nothing to worry about!

8) You are complaining about something trivial and you aren’t out of pocket. There is a difference between complaining about 69p because it is the principle of the thing and complaining that you don’t like the colour of the carpet.

So, get out there and complain when something goes wrong! Tips here and here on how to complain.

Who has got some complaining failures to tell? Customer Service representatives what other things can the complainer do that will ensure you don’t give redress?!

For more information, tips, advice, guidance, consumer rights and templates see GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

Insect Found in Tesco Rice Named Philip After CEO

So, time for another Tesco complaint as I asserted my consumer rights again! I know how popular Tesco posts are so here we go.

Last year, there I was opening my bag of Tesco risotto rice and found an insect. Eugh. Unfortunately my natural instinct was to kill it, before thinking it would have been better to film it running freely round the rice. I named him Phillip after Phillip Clarke Tesco CEO. Seemed apt somehow.

Insect in Tesco rice named Phillip after the CEO
Insect in Tesco rice named Phillip after the CEO

Email Complaint
So after finding something else to cook, I complained to Clarke. Without boring you with the details here are some snippets:

“… I was horrified to find a live insect crawling through the rice. I killed it, shame but I didn’t want it getting away. I have attached a photo. Obviously, as you will know this breaks the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended) as the product was far from satisfactory quality and it was not fit for purpose either! I didn’t want to cook an insect. I’m sorry that I don’t know what kind of insect it is, but as the paella was packaged in Italy perhaps the packers there can tell you. … someone tweeted that they had found an insect in their Tesco rice.. This leads me to think that it could be a serious issue and concern for Tesco…. How many other insects are crawling around the rice packaging area? Unidentified object in the bagging area” takes on a new meaning don’t you think?
 
So, I have emailed you before, you may recall that I emailed you earlier in the year, but Tesco staff and you did not reply and I took Tesco to court. I won. I emailed you a couple of years ago and you ignored me then too. However, I’m hoping that someone in the Executive Team may be concerned…….who wants insects in their food? Not a vegetarian certainly.
 
I trust that I will hear from someone (it would be nice if you had the courtesy of responding, it would make a nice change)…” etc. etc.
 

Response
Well. They asked me to take it back to the store. Nah, a) effort and b) how do we know it wouldn’t get “lost”.

Name and address for complaining to Tesco Chief Executive Office :) You can find CEO contact details at ceoemail.com You're welcome :)
Name and address for complaining to Tesco Chief Executive Office 🙂 You’re welcome

So I said I would post it. I also kept some rice just in case it should get “lost” the insect had after all been crawling through it. This is the parcel:

I got offered £30. Make of that what you will. In the scheme of things not very much given that I could have taken it to Trading Standards and if I was dishonest could have said I’d eaten another one and had been ill. But as I have said many times, I don’t lie  and I don’t complain just for the sake of getting pay outs. It is always about the principle of the thing.

I also asked what investigation they were undertaking to prevent this happening again. You’ll be pleased to hear that they did contact their supplier. Perhaps not so pleased to hear that the supplier has many checks for pest control. The poor old beetle was confused. I kid ye not. “On examination of the pack and rice returned we identified the insect  as a confused flour beetle.” The report also went on to state that it could not discount  the possibility of cross contamination  occurring in the distribution  chain or storage at home.” Now, given that actually I had taken delivery of my shopping that day and the bag had gone straight from bag to (clean!) work surface we can throw out that possibility. So, the company said it had had no other complaint. So, are we left with the assumption that it is cross contamination? Watch out for those beetles in your flour or anything else given that they apparently get confused easily.

Couple of weeks later I found another insect in rice! Unfortunately I couldn’t remember which bag of rice the previous one was or I would have gone to Trading Standards stating there was a clearly a problem!

So what extra protein have you ever found in food?