Few people are aware of their legal rights as a consumer, and with global retail sales approaching 25 trillion US dollars, there is no better time to learn about your rights as a consumer and what you can do if you believe you have been misled.
The Consumer Rights Act (2015) is a piece of UK legislation that helps regulate business behaviour and prevents consumers from being exploited. It sets out specific rules that businesses must abide by when selling goods or providing services to the end consumer. The key rules it focuses on are product quality, returns, repairs and replacements and delivery.
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What constitutes satisfactory quality is extremely important when knowing whether your consumer rights have been breached. According to the act satisfactory quality means that the product must not be damaged or defective when sold as new. It must be free of minor defects, be safe and durable. The price you paid for the item, must also be considered when judging whether the product is of satisfactory quality.
For example, it would be reasonable to expect the quality of a 3 pound t-shirt from Primark to be worse quality than a luxury t-shirt bought from Gucci. Regardless, both should be of reasonable quality for the price that has been paid for them.
Fit for Purpose
The next thing that the act establishes is that products must also be fit for purpose. This means does the product do what it was made to do? A stain remover, for example, must remove stains and a hairdryer must dry hair. If this is not the case, then the item would be classed as not being fit for purpose. Further to this the description of the item must also be an accurate representation of what you are getting.
Returns, Repairs & Replacements
Under the act, you have the legal right to return the item for a refund or to have it repaired. However, which option you are entitled to is determined by the length of time you have owned the item.
If you have owned the item from 0 to 30 days then you have the option to return the goods and receive a full refund if the goods are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose, or not as described. The retailer cannot refuse to refund you if this is the case. Another important thing to note is that the 30-day period does not begin until the consumer obtains ownership of the goods, so if the item is being delivered the 30 days begins from the day the item is received by the consumer.
Where a fault develops between 30 days and 6 months then it is presumed that this fault was present when the goods were purchased, but instead of being entitled to a full refund the consumer must give the seller one opportunity to repair or replace the goods. This repair or replacement must be completed in a reasonable time frame without causing significant inconvenience to the consumer. If the repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can claim a refund or price reduction and does not have to give the business further opportunities to repair or replace the product.
If a fault develops after six months, it’s up to you to prove it was faulty at the time of purchase or delivery. Basically, the burden of proof is now on you, making it harder to get a refund, repair or replacement. If you can prove this, then you must give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace it before you can claim a partial refund.
If you just change your mind about an item and there’s nothing wrong with it, then you don’t have an automatic right to get your money back. If you bought a t-shirt for example and then decided you dint like the style of it anymore, you are not entitled to a refund even within the first 30 days.
However, it is worth checking the retailers policy on returns as lots of retailers provide a 14 day to sometimes 30 day returns policy if the item has not been used. This may be in the form of a full refund or store credit.
Delivery should usually take place within 30 days, unless agreed otherwise at the time of sale. The retailer is responsible for the goods until they are in your physical possession. This is because your contract is with the retailer, who you bought the goods from. Failure to deliver within 30 days, or by the agreed date, gives the consumer the right to cancel the purchase and receive a full refund even if it is the fault of the courier.