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How to take charge of your home removal

Moving house is considered to be a very stressful experience. Following on from the story of the last week of the couple who hired a man with a van and lost all their possessions here’s how you can prevent that happening to you.

Once you have got past the stresses of dealing with estate agents, solicitors changes in dates and all the rest of it moving day finally comes. What can you do to ensure that moving goes as smoothly as possible and what to do if even after following sensible advice it still goes wrong?

Choosing a removal firm
The National Guild of Removers and Storers ensures its members are regulated and quality checked through the Removal Industrial Services Ombudsman Scheme.

The British Association of Removers is the relevant trade organisation. It has a Trading Standards Institute Code of Practice and an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. So, should you encounter problems and your removal firm is a member then you are able to use an arbitration scheme. You may like to check their website before deciding on a removal firm to give you peace of mind.

Remember a page on Facebook means nothing. All the reviews could be written by the firm. If recommended by a friend of a friend, this still may not be good enough especially if a friend of a friend on Facebook given how so many people have “friends” on Facebook that aren’t friends and are often people with whom they have never met or spoken.

Get more than one quote especially if you insist on using a non specialist removal service. If a quote sounds cheap remember if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

Consumer rights
When you have instructed a removal firm to move your possessions from one place to another you are covered (for services up to the 1st October) by the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. From 1st October 2015 you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. You can expect to receive services undertaken with reasonable skill and care. That means no damage and arrival at an agreed time. Should this not be the case then you have grounds to complain.

If any items get damaged you have the right to repair/replacement or sum of money covering the cost of replacement. You are also entitled to any out of pocket expenses you might incur due to damages of items or delay in timings of the removal.

Insurance
Check your insurance. When moving from one place to another check that you are covered and by which company – the insurance at your old place or the new one. This may give you additional cover particularly for anything you might move yourself. The company should have its own insurance to cover any breakages.

What to do if things go wrong
Keep a list of everything. If you notice damage at the time of moving mention it to the staff and keep a record. Put your complaint in writing following the tips here. Outline all the damage and out of pocket expenses and what you want to put the matter right. Give a timescale for response. If not satisfied with the response you can go to the ombudsman as detailed above. You can also go to the Small Claims Court (even after using the ombudsman.)

 

For more information, guidance, tips, consumer laws, rights and template letters for complaining to most sectors about most things… GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

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A Guide to your rights under 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 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!

 

 

101 Habits if an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

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.

 

 

 

5 top tips for complaining effectively