Consumer law is changing as the new Consumer Rights Act comes into force from the 1st October 2015.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will replace a number of laws with regard to business-to-consumer transactions, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, and will consolidate consumer rights and remedies in respect of goods, services, and digital content as well as unfair contractual terms. The changes are relevant to all consumers and every business which sells directly to consumers.
A number of changes will be introduced that are aimed at consolidating and simplifying consumer law and bringing it into line with developments in technology. Most of the new provisions are fairly straightforward however the devil is in the detail and there are number of issues that are likely to concern businesses including;
Rights for the supply of goods
Alongside the current requirements for goods to be of a satisfactory quality, description, and fit for purpose, new implied terms will be introduced that pre-contractual information will now form part of the contract, and that goods must match any model examined by a consumer pre contract, unless any specific differences have been brought to the consumer’s attention. In addition to this, any pre-contract statements taken into account by the consumer when deciding to enter into the contract will be treated as contractual terms.
Rights for the supply of services
In addition to the requirements that services must be performed with reasonable care and skill, new terms will be introduced that the consumer must pay a reasonable price for the services and that the business will perform the services within a reasonable time.
A new “tiered system” of consumer remedies will be introduced giving consumers a short-term right to reject goods (or to request a repeat performance in the case of services) within 30 days, a right to request a repair or replacement outside of the initial 30 day period, and a final right to reject goods, or to a price reduction, after one unsuccessful repair or replacement.
Rights and remedies for digital content
Specific rights and remedies for digital content such as computer games and downloads will be introduced; digital content must be of satisfactory quality, fit for a particular purpose and as described. If not, consumers have the right to a repair or replacement, or a reduction in price. Consumers will also be entitled to claim compensation if the digital content supplied by the trader damages their electronic device or other digital content.
Unfair terms in consumer contracts/transparency
Consumer rights in relation to unfair contract terms have been consolidated to create a universal requirement of fairness and the provisions have now been extended to apply to consumer notices as well as contracts.
What should be done?
Review standard contract terms, and as a minimum include ‘deduction for use’ policies, and review sales literature to ensure they are up-to-date and accurate and do not conflict with the new law.
Review complaints handling procedures to ensure customer complaints are dealt with appropriately and that the right remedies are offered at the right time.
Provide training to ensure all staff are up to speed with the forthcoming changes.
If you are in any doubt about what your business can do now to comply with the requirements of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 please contact Samantha Wright at Samantha.firstname.lastname@example.org or John Chadaway at email@example.com or by telephoning 02476 531 532 for advice.