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The Consumer Rights Act and What it Means for You as a Customer

The new Consumer Rights Act comes in on 1 October 2015 and takes the place of three pieces of consumer legislation currently in place. The Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act are all to be replaced by one all-encompassing piece of legislation that also includes your rights when purchasing digital content.

The new Act will affect everything that you buy, be it online, in shops and every contract you sign as a consumer. It doesn’t just cover physical goods but also services that you may use. 

The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) includes the following:

Buying in Shops

From 1 October all goods bought in shops must:

  • Be of a satisfactory quality and of a standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory.
  • Be fit for purpose.
  • Match the description, sample of model. If you rely on a description to make your purchase then the good supplied must match that description.
  • Installed correctly where applicable.

Contract for Services

All contracts for services must abide by the following:

  • The service provided by the trader must be performed with reasonable care and skill.
  • Information said either orally or given in writing by the trader is legally binding.
  • If you have not agreed a price before the service is carried out, the fee must be reasonable.
  • All services must be carried out in a reasonable time.

If the trader doesn’t meet the above criteria then they should either redo the part of the service that you think is inadequate or perform the whole service again at no extra cost. It should also be undertaken with a reasonable time frame and at no extra cost to you. If this isn’t possible then you can claim a price reduction. Depending on how severe the failings are you could ask for up to 100% of the cost.

Online Sales

This is new as the old consumer laws didn’t cover digital content, i.e. music downloads or anything else supplied in digital form. The new Consumer Rights Act recognises digital content and says that it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described by the seller.

If the digital content supplied doesn’t meet the standards then you have the right to repair or replacement. One significant thing is that if any device or digital content that you already have is damaged by new downloaded digital content, then the retailer has to provide compensation.

Late Deliveries

There is now a delivery window in place which means that retailers have to deliver within 30 days, or on the date that has been agreed. Agreed dates usually apply to goods that are being made to order, or are being shipped from overseas.

If goods do not arrive within 30 days, or on the agreed date, then the following applies:

  • If it was essential that what you ordered was delivered on time, then you can terminate the purchase and get a full refund.
  • If it wasn’t time sensitive but another reasonable delivery time cannot be agreed, you can cancel the order and get a full refund.

Items bought online are still covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations so you have 14 days to return goods no matter what your reason.


Under the new Consumer Rights Acts, all contracts must now clearly state the main elements of the agreement and outline the price in a transparent and prominent way. The terms must be in plain language that you can understand and, if handwritten, legible.

The new Act states that it is not acceptable for key terms and conditions to be hidden in pages that you need a magnifying glass to read. Any other terms that don’t fall under the main elements of the contract and price will be considered unfair if they are contrary to the requirements of good faith. They must be fair and designed together with you in an open and negotiable way.

What Can You Do When Something Goes Wrong?

The Consumer Rights Act now has in place a tiered remedy system for faulty goods, digital content, and services that clearly sets out your rights to a refund, repair or replacement.

Tier 1: If you discover that the goods you have purchased do not meet the purpose that they were bought for, you have 30 days in which you are entitled to reject them. You can claim a refund which must be paid to you as quickly as possible, or within 14 days of the trader agreeing that you are entitled to it.

Tier 2: If there is a breach of contract, but you choose not to exercise your right to reject goods, you can claim a repair or replacement. There must not be any cost to you for this and it must happen within a reasonable time and without inconvenience.

Tier 3: If either of the above options is unsuccessful, or not provided within a reasonable time, then you can claim a price reduction (partial or full refund) or reject the goods.

What hasn’t changed is your right to compensation if you are injured by a faulty product or if the product you are using isn’t fit for purpose. If you have been injured by a product you can claim damages from the manufacturer. If you would like legal advice regarding your rights as a consumer or if you have been injured by a product please contact our team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers.

Call us on freephone 0800 112 4924 or contact us online and we will call you back.

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