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Your Consumer Rights at Christmas

In the run up to Christmas, your rights as a consumer are as important as ever.

The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015. The Consumer Rights Act has aimed to make the law for consumers and businesses easier to understand.

In short, the Consumer Rights Act covers:

  • What should happen when goods are faulty.
  • What should happen when services are not to standard or not performed as agreed.
  • Unfair contract terms.
  • The powers of Trading Standards to deal with breaches of consumer law.

In addition, for the first time, rights relating to 'digital content' has been included in legislation. Digital content includes online games, films, downloads and e-books.

Can I return goods if I change my mind?

If you purchase an item in a shop and you simply change your mind, unfortunately, you do not have an automatic right to get your money back. However, most retailers do have a returns policy and you should check this carefully before purchasing your goods.

The position is very different if you purchase goods online. If you purchase an item online, you automatically get a 14-day ‘cooling-off period’, unless the item is bespoke or made to measure.

The cooling-off period starts as soon as you receive your item and the item does not have to be faulty in order for you to be entitled to a refund.

Please note that you will not get a cooling-off period when you buy:

  • Perishable goods, like food or flowers.
  • Personalised or custom-made items.
  • Goods from a private individual rather than a business.
  • CDs, DVDs or software, if the seal is broken on the wrapping.

Can I return a product if the goods are faulty?

Under the Consumer Rights Act, you have the right to reject the goods and get a full refund if it is within 30 days from the date of purchase.

After 30 days, you will not be entitled to a full refund in the first instance but you do have the right to a repair or replacement.

If the item is still not working after just one attempt at a repair or replacement, the repair or replacement isn’t possible or it hasn’t been carried out quickly enough, you are entitled to ask for a refund. If this is within six months of purchase, it is likely to be a full refund. If it is after six months, it is likely to be a partial refund.

What if I bought items in the Christmas sales?

If you have bought an item in the sales and it is faulty, you can return it as long as the fault was not brought to your attention before you purchased the item.

As explained above, you are not automatically entitled to a refund if you simply change your mind. It is worth checking the returns policy before purchasing your goods.

If a shop is advertising a sale, it has to follow a number of guidelines to show that the sale is 'genuine':

  • The original price and sale price should be clearly displayed.
  • The items must have been sold at a higher price for at least 28 days before a sale.
  • The items should not be on sale for longer than the original price.

Regardless of whether items are in the sale or not, goods should be:

  • As described.
  • Of satisfactory quality.
  • Fit for purpose.

What if I bought goods using my credit card?

There is additional protection for credit card purchases under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act for purchases between £100 and £30,000.

If you have a claim for breach of contract or misrepresentation against the supplier of the goods or services, section 75 gives you the same claim against the creditor. This is particularly helpful if you have purchased goods or services from a company that has stopped trading or you have been unable to locate them.

This additional protection only applies to credit card purchases and does not apply to debit card purchases.

 Consumer Christmas Shopping Tips:

  • Check the return policy before you buy your goods.
  • Check whether there is a genuine 'sale' and find out the original price of the item.
  • Check your items after purchase as soon as you can.
  • Be mindful that your rights against private individuals are limited.
  • Check whether you purchased goods using your credit card.

If you would like legal advice regarding your rights as a consumer, please contact our team at Slater and Gordon Lawyers on freephone 0800 916 9052 or contact us online.

Carys Murphy is an expert in contract law. She works in Cardiff as a part of the business legal services team.

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