The revised version of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) came into force on the 1st October 2015. It's seen as the biggest revision in a generation and aims to 'simplify', 'strengthen' and 'modernise' UK consumer law.
The CRA replaces the three current pieces of legislation; the 'Supply of Goods and Services Act' (1982), the 'Sales of Goods Act' (1979), and the 'Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations' (1999).
What's New in the Consumer Rights Act?
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduces a number of things:
- 30 Day Refund Period: It's the first time a specific time frame has been stipulated, of which you can reject a faulty item for a full refund.
- Failed Repairs: You're entitled to a full or partial refund (depending on the nature of the purchase/product), after one failed attempt by the merchant to repair or replace a faulty product
- Second Repair/Replacement: If you prefer, rather than a refund you can request another repair or replacement by right.
- Tiered Remedy System: This has been clearly set out to indicate your rights based on the type of product bought, how long you've owned it for, and the nature of service you've received.
- Zero Deductions From Refunds: It is now illegal for the merchants to try and make any deductions from refunds awarded within the initial 6 months of purchase. The one exception for this is vehicles, where a reasonable deduction may be agreed for any use of the vehicle you've had so far.
- Unfair Contract Terms: Previously the consumer contract terms only had to be 'legible' somewhere within the terms and conditions. Changes to the unfair terms in contracts, means that merchants must now make you aware of the main elements of the agreement, along with the associated costs.
- Pre-contract Information: The new act states that if any pre-contract information in relation to he product or service is presented to the consumer, should the consumer make a purchase with this information, the actual contract must adhere to this information.
- Digital Content Rights: Now a part of mainstream consumerism, new regulations have been introduced to govern the digital content market, such as MP3 downloads, and physical formats (DVD et al.)
Product Quality in the Consumer Rights Act
The rules for product quality are the same as those with the current Sales of Goods Act. The only real change is that the rules have been adapted to include digital content in the new act. There are three basic standards which anything you buy should meet:
- Satisfactory Quality: Obviously goods need to arrive without damage and be in good working order when you receive them. 'Satisfactory quality' really describes what a reasonable person would consider satisfactory for the item(s) in question. This should be somewhat determined based on the state of the item (is it second hand? etc.), and the value of the item – e.g. it seems reasonable to expect a higher standard of product from a designer shop than it does of your local £1 shop.
- Fit For Purpose: The goods need to be fit for the purpose that they're supplied for, as well as any specific purpose that was made known to the salesperson during the initial transaction.
- As Described: The goods must match the description given at the time of sale, and must specifically detail any defects if applicable e.g. if you buy a second hand phone from ebay, and when you receive it you find that the screen is cracked, then clearly that is a breach of 'as described' (as well as not being 'satisfactory quality', nor 'fit for purpose').
If something you've bought clearly doesn't satisfy any of the three criteria above, then you're entitled to claim under the Consumer Rights Act.