New Consumer Rights Act comes into force

01 October 2015

High street shoppingThe Consumer Right Act has been hailed as the biggest shake-up of consumer law for a generation.

But what is it and how will it affect you?

The Act - which comes into force today (October 1, 2015) - takes eight existing pieces of legislation and streamlines them into one.

The aim is to make it easier for people to understand their key consumer rights, giving them greater confidence when buying and empowering them to take action if problems occur.

Enhanced rights

The new legislation also gives consumers enhanced rights.

For example, for the first time shoppers will be entitled to a repair or replacement if digital products - such as online games, films and music downloads - are faulty.

The new law also clarifies rules around refunds, repairs or replacements of faulty goods. This includes, for the first time, the creation of a specific timeframe of 30 days for consumers to reject a faulty item and get a full refund.

After 30 days, retailers have one opportunity to repair or replace any goods and the consumer can choose whether they want the goods to be repaired or replaced. If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can then claim a refund or a price reduction if they wish to keep the product.

Small print

There are also clear rules for what should happen if a service is not carried out with reasonable care and skill or as agreed with the consumer. The service provider will have to put the service right in line with what was agreed or, if that is not practical, must give some money back.

Consumers will also be able to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair or are hidden in the small print.

If a problem does occur, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers will be available to help if a dispute cannot be settled between the business and the consumer

These schemes already operate in the telecoms sector Find out more about ADR.

Consumers can find out about their new rights by visiting the Citizens Advice website.