It’s that time of year again when all of us interested in a bargain are eagerly awaiting the 25th November but, what happens if that bargain turns out to be a dud? Perhaps faults come to light that you were not made aware of at the time of purchase?
Luckily you have the Consumer Rights Act on your side…or you do if you live in the UK at least. For the USA and other parts of the world you have far less protection and in some cases none at all. So this one is for our UK friends.
UK consumer protection has always been pretty strong but it was given a boost in 2015 with a few additions which are particularly pertinent to items sold on sale. Your rights can be summed up as follows. It is very simple and applies whether you bought ex-demo or new in the box, goods must be:
- Satisfactory Quality
- As Described
- Fit For Purpose
- And Last A Reasonable Length Of Time
So for example and given we are a music site, if you bought a high end keyboard that was ex-demo and it developed a fault whereby it was made unusable you can ask for a full refund, as long as you do that within 30 days of purchase. Any store that tries to tell you differently needs to be reminded of their obligations under the Consumer Protection Act. It is not a negotiation. This is the law and they are bound by it.
Within 30 Days
You can usually still get a full refund due to what’s called your ‘short-term right to reject’. After that only expect exchange, repair or part-refund.
Within six months.
The shop must prove goods weren’t faulty when they sold them – after that, you must prove they were.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 changed our right to reject something faulty, and be entitled to a full refund in most cases, from a reasonable time to a fixed period of 30 days. After that, you lose the short-term right to reject the goods and you’ll have fewer rights, such as only being able to ask for a repair or replacement, or a full or partial refund if this doesn’t work.
Even if the item is second-hand or reduced, your consumer rights are not reduced, except where the seller pointed out the specific problems before you bought the goods.
The same consumer rights rules apply to second-hand and sale goods from shops. They must be of satisfactory quality and, if they are faulty, you can return them.
The rules are slightly different for software and services. It still needs to be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for the purpose and last a reasonable length of time but There is no automatic right to a full refund within 30 days for digital goods. If the digital content doesn’t work or has faults that make it unusable you can ask for a repair or replacement. If the repair or replacement doesn’t work, or isn’t possible, you can then ask for a reduction in price instead.
The law says that a full refund may be given “where appropriate”, so if you act quickly and you may in fact get all of your money back. In general though this is likely to be a partial refund. Obviously if the goods are not usable at all, for example if you purchase a Bluray disc that simply will not play or software that will not install then a replacement or refund is appropriate. However where something is usable so, perhaps your bluray disc will play to the end credits and then stop working, you have at least been able to watch the movie so a partial refund or replacement may be the way to go here.
Buying on the web, mail order or from home:
There are definitely some major advantages to buying on the web and this is due to the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013. In most cases you have the right to cancel your order and claim a refund and this includes if you have just changed your mind.
The Consumer Contracts Regulations apply to contracts for goods or services (including digital content) of any value ordered from an EU-based business via mail order, phone or online. You’re also protected if buying something costing more than £42 away from a normal seller’s premises (usually at your home or work). And remember if you buy with a credit card you will normally be protected by the card issuer as well.
How long do you have to cancel?
For Tangible Goods: 14 calendar days from the day after you receive all goods in an order (unless it’s for regular delivery such as a magazine subscription, when the first delivery counts). Once you’ve cancelled an order you then have a further 14 days to send the goods back.
Services and digital content: 14 days from the day after the order is made. If you want to start a service within the 14 days, you will usually be asked to give your agreement in writing. This then means you can’t cancel. However you are able to get a refund minus the proportionate cost of anything you have used. If you are not told about your cancellation rights in writing, you have up to a year and 14 days to cancel the contract.
So that’s it in a nutshell. Don’t be fobbed off by people telling you it was a sale item so you can’t get a refund or offering a store voucher instead. You have the law on your side!
If you have any questions about your consumer rights please drop by our forum and ask. We will be more than happy to help!
NOTE: Rules in the USA are quite different. Many stores will give you a cooling off period, normally 7-14 days and some will extend this to 30 days but this is at their own discretion and not mandatory by law. Also different states have different rules so always best to check BEFORE you purchase something.