The Consumer Rights Act 2015 and digital goods
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force on the 1st October 2015. (See the link for your rights) Part of the reasoning behind this Act was to consolidate Acts and cover digital content which is not covered by other laws written before their introduction! However, it is going to get very complicated, there is very little clarity about digital content on the net and what there is can be misleading. I have been in contact with the department for Business, Innovation and Skills, responsible for the CRA to try and get some clarity and this feeds into much of the below:
Key points about the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and digital goods:
1) Digital content covers items such as computer games, virtual items purchased with computer games, television programmes, films, books, computer software, mobile phone apps and system software for operating goods.
2) These digital goods are covered by the Act and therefore must be of satisfactory quality, as described, be fit for a particular purpose, match the description and be installed correctly when this has been agreed as part of the contract.
3) You can reject the goods within 30 days and insist on a full refund up to this time and a repair or replacement anytime up to 6 months. After 6 months you will need to prove that the fault was there at point of purchase and you have up to 6 years to claim.
Digital content non physical form
Ok, now this is where it gets complicated and the potential for challenges in court is high.
1) Non physical form such as downloads are not covered by the 30 day rule. You can see why, you could download something and use it and then try and get your money back.
2) The right to reject applies only to goods and digital content sold as part of the goods (often referred to as being on a tangible medium, such as a disc, but this also includes digital content that is within the goods, e.g. the program on a washing machine). Digital content that is downloaded is not subject to the right to reject as the consumer is not in a position to return the digital content
3) If the download has corrupted other apps on a device this may not be apparent for some time. A consumer may not discover this for some days, perhaps even after 30 days. If a washing machine damaged goods three months after purchase you should expect the retailer to reimburse costs of goods damaged by the washing machine so this would be the same with software.
4) If software or computer games are unopened they are considered tangible form and once opened and put on a machine/in a toy etc. the 30 day rule still applies.
5) Replacement or repair is, generally, a first stage that must be gone through before any refund is payable if someone downloads an ebook for example and then insists on refund for any reason. The repair or replacement must be within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, unless it is impossible or disproportionately expensive. Failing successful repair or replacement, the consumer could be entitled to a price reduction which can be up to the full price.
6) If a trader advertised that an ebook would work on a particular device but it was actually incompatible with that device, the consumer would be entitled to a repair or more likely a replacement in the form of a version that is compatible with the device. If that is not possible, then the consumer would be entitled to a reduction in the purchase price, up to a full refund.
7) There are no statutory provisions putting an obligation on the consumer to prove that the trader has breached the relevant consumer right. Replacement or repair is, generally, a first stage that must be gone through before any refund is payable, and this goes some way towards protecting traders against opportunistic claims. Traders will no doubt establish customs and practices to guard against abuses of the right in relation to digital goods.
8) If the consumer made a mistake and downloaded the wrong item, then this is not covered by the Consumer Rights Act. Depending on the specifics of the case, the consumer may have rights under the Consumer Contract Regulations (which provide the 14 day cooling off period for distance purchases) but many websites stipulate that by downloading the content the consumer loses that 14 day right as they have consumed the digital content.
And of course, if you need to know how to use this Act and many others, plus tips, advice and templates then you need to GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!
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