New consumer rights bill gives extra rights on digital and faulty products
Most consumers probably woke up this morning with no idea of the momentous events of yesterday. Putting driving programme ex-presenters and boy band ex-members in the shade is the news that the new Consumer Rights Act received Royal Assent in Parliament yesterday. While you might not think it is exciting, the new rights will extend consumer rights to digital products and offer greater redress and clearer rules on faulty products. Thrilling stuff.
The Consumer Rights Act is described the biggest change to consumer legislation in “a generation” and replaces the Sale of Goods Act, and seven other pieces of consumer legislation. The Act is also predicted to boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade.
When the new Act comes into force on 1 October 2015, consumer rights will now be extended to digital products for the first time, meaning that anyone buying a digital product that turns out to be faulty could be entitled to a refund or replacement.
The Consumer Rights Act gives consumers new rights to a repair, replacement and refund of faulty content such as online films, games, music downloads and e-books- even if you didn’t pay for the original platform.
Take the example cited by Which!!! of a free to download app that you have been playing for months and on which, you've spent an amount of money on in-app purchases to improve your game character. However, after your last character upgrade, the game stopped working. Under the new rules you'll be entitled to a repair or a replacement (of all your added parts) and if a repair isn’t provided within a reasonable time or is impossible to replace then you’d be entitled to some money back.
But the new rules also offer clarity when dealing with faulty items. For example, if your kettle or toaster knackers up three weeks after purchase, are you entitled to a refund or not? The current law refers to a ‘reasonable time’ which is open to different interpretation from seller and purchaser. However, under the new law you will have a clear right to a full refund for up to 30 days after you buy your item.
Finally, there will also be clearer rules for shoddy services- those provided either without reasonable care and skill, or as agreed. For example, this could be a restaurant meal delivered lukewarm or painting and decorating that’s been completed in the wrong colour or to a poor standard. From 1 October, you will now have a legal right to ask for the service to be repeated or to get a full/partial refund.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This is the biggest shake up of consumer law for a generation, bringing legislation in line with the fact many people now buy online.
"Consumers will now be much better informed and protected when buying goods or services on the internet. They will now be entitled to get for the first time a free repair or replacement for any faulty digital content."
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said: "For too long consumers and businesses have struggled to understand the complicated rules that apply when buying goods and services.
"That is why the Consumer Rights Act is so important in setting out clear and updated consumer rights for goods, services and, for the first time, digital content.