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A Guide to your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

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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This Act came into force from 1st October 2015, when the following Acts were  repealed/amended: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 covers business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.

Sale of Goods Act 1979/ Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 applies to business to business contracts and to consumer to consumer contracts only.

Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 covers business to business contracts and consumer to consumer contracts only.

Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 was replaced

Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 covers business to business and consumer to consumer contracts only.

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 was replaced.

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

The sale and supply of goods

The person transferring or selling goods must have the right to do so. Goods must be of a satisfactory quality and of a standard that a reasonable person would regard as such. 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.
  • 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.

Rejecting goods under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

You can reject the goods within 30 days from purchase unless the expected life of the goods is shorter e.g. highly perishable goods. After this time the trader can offer a repair or replacement. Up to 6 months from the date of purchase it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of delivery. The exception to this would be if 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 has passed, you have to prove the defect was there at the time of purchase. You must also prove the defect was there at the time of delivery when you exercise the short-term right to reject goods. Some defects do not become apparent until some time after delivery. 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.

Consumer rights regarding digital goods under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

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. E.g. 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. E.g. a film downloaded to a computer or a virtual car purchased when playing a computer game.

More information on digital content consumer rights

Consumer rights for  digital content 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 you buy services from a trader, both you and them 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, but the wording used must be clear and prominent. There is also an exemption for wording that has to be used by law. If you are 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 although 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 done under the aforementioned Acts.

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

The Consumer Rights Act discussed in the media:

Discussing the Consumer Rights Act 2015 with Rebecca Pike on Radio 2 Drive time

Consumer Rights Act and Alternative Dispute Resolution discussed on Moneybox

More help with complaints against companies

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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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101 Habits of an Effective complainer designed to improve the way you look at and make complaints. Each page gives you a complaining habit to consider and an example of how and why it empowers you to become more effective in getting the results you want.

 

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Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress to get refunds and redress

5 top tips for complaining effectively

 

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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
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?