When you buy goods, services or digital products as a consumer you may find that the “small print” has changed. This is because traders are now bound by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”) which came into force on 1 October 2015. You will now find that your rights are stronger than they used to be and that you have better remedies against disreputable traders.
The legislation does some completely new things. For example, it makes rules to govern the sale of “digital content”, such as downloaded music. It also gives you the power to bring legal actions against traders who act in an anti-competitive way (for example, price cartels that make the cost of things you buy higher than they should be).
In the past, goods must be “of satisfactory quality”, be as described, fit for a particular purpose and match any actual example you have seen, and if it is relevant, be correctly installed. If these terms are broken, you will have the right to reject the goods, or to have them repaired or replaced. If you want to reject the goods, you will now have a 30-day short term right to do so. In this time, the trader is entitled to repair or replace the goods or agree a price reduction. If these things don’t happen, you will have a final right of rejection.
The new rules also mean companies can be punished if they do not deliver your goods within a reasonable time. You are now entitled to a full refund if retailers fail to deliver your purchases within 30 days or on a date that has been agreed.
You might be a consumer of digital content, which is now dealt with as a product category distinct from goods and services. It means “data which are produced and supplied in a digital form” so it will cover materials you download or stream. Digital content must be of satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose and comply with its description. It will also be implied into the contract that the trader has the right to provide it to you.
Another benefit to consumers created by the CRA relates to notices, disclaimers and contract terms. To be enforceable, they must be not be unfair and be written in plain, intelligible language (there is scope for argument here). Unfair and obscure terms in the “small print” of contracts cannot be enforced against you.
The CRA is a very large body of law and we can only give the briefest summary here. However, the tables are definitely being turned on “rogue traders”!