The key provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”) become active today (1 October 2015). Whilst for the most part the legislation consolidates and clarifies existing legislation, the CRA introduces new consumer remedies that businesses should be aware of when selling goods or services to consumers. Businesses should also note that the CRA provides new and explicit remedies in relation to the supply of digital content.
The CRA applies to contracts between traders and consumers (Consumers being an individual acting wholly or mainly outside of that individuals trade, business, craft or profession).
Consumers may be confused about their rights under contracts, and it is possible that there will be articles over-emphasising consumer’s rights under this new legislation or rumours arising on various forums.
Consumers rights under the CRA can be summarised as follows:
Goods are required to be of a satisfactory quality, fit for their normal purpose and match any description or sample.
If goods are faulty, then the consumer has various rights dependent on the period since when they took delivery of the goods::
- Within 30 days, the consumer has a right to reject the goods and receive a full refund.
- After 30 days and up to 6 months, the consumer has a right to a repair or replacement (and if this can’t be carried out the consumer may be entitled to a full refund);
- For a period of up to 6 years, then if the goods don’t work or last for the expected time, then the consumer may be entitled to a refund of some of the purchase price.
It’s important to note that the 6 year period does not mean that every item comes with an automatic 6 year warranty – you still have to look at the item and identify whether or not the item should last that long – so for example, a new car will be judged differently than a cheap novelty gadget.
Services have to be provided with reasonable skill and care, at a reasonable price and within a reasonable time. Also, any information given to the consumer in writing or verbally which the consumer takes into account will also form part of the contract – so be careful about over-promising about your service or making grandiose claims!
Where the business fails to provide the required level of skill and care, the consumer can ask for the business to re-perform the services. Where this is not done in a reasonable time (or cannot be done), the consumer can claim a price reduction of up to 100%.
Digital content (such as downloads of apps or streams) must be as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. This applies to content that is paid for or bundled with other products – but not completely free digital content.
If the digital content fails to meet these standards then the consumer can require a repair or replacement. If this is not done then the consumer has the right to a price reduction.
If digital content causes damage to a device (eg a laptop) or another piece of digital content, and that damage would not have happened had the trader taken reasonable care, then the consumer can request repair of the equipment or compensation for the damage caused to the device or other content.