Why You Need To Know Your Consumer Rights.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 protects you in almost all purchases you make. Here I am going to explain what it means when buying goods or services.
The Consumer Rights Act sets out your rights when you’re buying products, services and digital content.
Because of the act, the law will be clearer and easier to understand, meaning that consumers can buy and businesses can sell to them with confidence. On the rare occasions when problems arise, they will be able to sort out disputes more quickly and cheaply. The Act is relevant to all consumers and every business which sells directly to consumers.
UK consumers spend £90 billion a month. Transparent rights will help them to make better choices when they buy, generating the opportunity for businesses to compete, innovate and grow. With this Act in place, businesses and consumers create an economy based on productive relationships and fairly won business reputations.
WHY IS IT SO IMPORTANT?
Businesses and consumers who understand their rights and responsibilities will save time and money. Whenever you buy a product on service, on the high street or online, you have rights. Knowing your rights can help if what you’ve paid for doesn’t meet your expectations or is faulty.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015
Any product or service, physical or digital, bought online or in store must meet the following standards:
- Satisfactory quality – your goods shouldn’t be faulty or damaged, and of at least satisfactory quality. For example, second-hand goods aren’t held to the same standards as new.
- Fit for purpose – you should be able to use it for the purpose they were supplied for.
- As described – your goods or service must match the description, model or sample shown when you bought it.
Your rights to a refund, repair or replacement change as time goes on.
Along with your rights under the Consumer Rights Act and Consumer Contracts Regulations, buying with your credit card can offer added protection for purchases between £100 and £30,000 under the Consumer Credit Act.
Transactions of any value on debit cards or pre-paid might be covered under a voluntary scheme called chargeback.
How to exercise your consumer rights if you are unhappy with a purchase using the guidelines of the consumer rights act 2015:
Step 1 – make a formal complaint
Before contacting the seller, check if they have an official complaints procedure. You can usually find a seller’s complaints procedure on their website – make sure you follow it when you complain.
It’s best to email or write to the seller – you can use a template letter.
Make sure you keep a copy of anything you send, in case you need to check it later.
If you’re not happy with the response
You should ask the seller for a final response (sometimes called a ‘letter of deadlock’), which will confirm that they haven’t been able to resolve your complaint.
A final response is proof that you’ve already tried making a formal complaint – you’ll need it if you try other ways to sort out the problem.
Step 2 – check if the seller belongs to a trade association
If the seller is a member of a trade association, they might have to follow certain rules. If they’ve broken the rules, you could get help from the trade association to take your complaint further.
Look on the seller’s website to find out if they’re a member of a trade association – or contact them if you can’t find anything.
Get in touch with the trade association, explain your situation and ask if they can advise you on what to do next.
Step 3 – ask your card provider or PayPal to help
You might be able to get your money back if you paid by card or PayPal.
If you haven’t already sent your card provider or PayPal a copy of your complaint letter to the company, send one now – and let them know what response you’ve had.
Step 4 – check if you can use ‘alternative dispute resolution’ (ADR)
Some sellers belong to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme, which means they offer a way to solve your problem without going to court.
If you use ADR a person or an organisation will either:
- try to help you and the seller come to an agreement – this is sometimes called ‘mediation’ or ‘conciliation’
- look at the evidence and make a decision about your complaint – this is usually done by an arbitrator, adjudicator or ombudsman
If you’re thinking of taking a seller to court, you should try using ADR first – a judge will usually expect you to have done this.
If you’ve already been through a complaints process with a trade association you should find out if it was ADR. You can’t usually use ADR more than once, but it’s worth checking the scheme’s terms and conditions to make sure.
You should be able to find out if the seller has an ADR scheme by checking their:
- website – try searching for ‘dispute resolution’ or ‘complaints procedure’
- ‘terms and conditions’, either on their website or in any emails or paperwork they’ve sent you
If you can’t see anything about ADR, look for phrases like ‘what to do if you’re still unhappy’ or ‘escalating your complaint’. If it says your complaint will be passed on to another organisation, it’s likely to be an ADR scheme.
Contact the seller if you’re still not sure – you should find contact details on their website.
Keep a record of any contact you have with the seller about using ADR – you’ll need it if you end up taking your case to court.
Step 5 – make a court claim
You can make a claim to the court if your problem hasn’t been resolved – this is sometimes called making a ‘small claim’.
Going to court can be stressful and time consuming – it’s probably only worth doing this if the item was particularly expensive.
If you used alternative dispute resolution (ADR) the court will take the ADR scheme’s decision into account.
Read more about making a small claim.
Stay safe, know your rights & take care,