Consumer rights are an important form of protection when you purchase goods and services. Up until 2015, UK consumer rights were outlined in 3 pieces of legislation: the Sales of Goods Act, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations and the Supply of Goods & Services Act.
However, with the dramatic rise in the number of goods and services bought online and the purchase of digital content, it was felt that all the legislation had to be streamlined and modernised. As a result, the Consumer Rights Act became law in October 2015, and was amended in 2016 to include travel services as well.
What is the Consumer Rights Act of 2015?
The Consumer Rights Act of 2015 stipulates that any goods or services should be:
- of satisfactory quality – not damaged or defective and satisfactory as any reasonable person would expect,
- fit for purpose – be used for the general purpose as advertised, or for a specific purpose as explained to the retailer before buying,
- as described – they should match any samples or models shown to the consumer before buying.
According to the Act, your complaint is with the retailer who sold it to you, and not with the manufacturer. You have different options about returning goods depending on how much time has elapsed since you took physical possession of the goods. In the case of goods which are sent, this counts from the delivery date and not the order date.
What are my consumer rights on returning goods?
For most goods, you have a 30-day right to reject when you can return the product and receive a full refund.
After this 30-day window is over, you aren’t legally entitled to a full refund (although some retailers may choose to do so). If it develops a fault, you might have a personal preference about what you want done, but the retailer has the final say. They can choose to either repair or replace the goods once. If this attempt is unsuccessful, then you’re entitled to a full refund or price reduction. In certain circumstances, a full or partial refund might be the only option. For example, if repair is impossible or would take too long.
In the first 6 months after you take ownership of goods, it is presumed that the fault has always been present. However, after 6 months, the onus is on you to prove that the fault had always been there. To do so would require expert testimony or evidence of malfunction affecting a certain model or production batch.
You have 6 years after purchase (5 years in the case of Scotland) to pursue the matter in the small claims court if the retailer refuses to settle your complaint to your satisfaction. Digital content (including free apps or downloads) must meet the same criteria as all other goods. If repair or replacement isn’t possible, you’re entitled to a price reduction. Your consumer rights also allow for compensation if any digital content damages any electronic device.