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Better Protection for Consumers On the Way?

The Government is proposing to improve protection for consumers who purchase goods or services (including those supplied in electronic form) from businesses.

Under the Consumer Rights Bill, consumers will have new rights with regard to goods that are not of satisfactory quality, do not meet the reasonable expectations of the consumer or are not fit for purpose.

The Bill proposes that consumers will have ‘core rights’, which are as follows:

  • The right to get what you pay for;
  • The right that goods and digital content are fit for purpose and services are provided with reasonable care and skill; and
  • The right that faults in what you buy will be put right free of charge, or a refund or replacement provided.

The existing consumer protections regarding quality, assurance of description and fitness for purpose are unchanged. A consumer’s right to reject goods which do not meet one of these tests will remain (unless the goods are retained for an unreasonable period of time) as will the right to receive them within a reasonable period of time. These protections also include the right to claim a full refund within 30 days, or repair or replacement of faulty goods, for which the supplier must bear the full cost.

A procedure is also proposed for partial refunds to be made if repairs/replacements are not fully satisfactory or if services are not supplied in a reasonable time.

The rules relating to digital content will be similar.

As regards services, these will have to be:

  • provided with reasonable care and skill;
  • compliant with relevant information given by the trade; and
  • provided within a reasonable time and for a reasonable price.

Remedies for non-compliance include having the service repeated or a reduction in price.

The Bill is expected to become law in 2014.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.