- New rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 from 1.10.15
What are the key changes?
The most important reform under the new Act is the right to a refund within 30 days if you buy something that's faulty, whether you shopped online, in a high-street store, or at any other retailer.
Now you have up to 30 days to return a faulty item and you will get all your cash back, no questions asked. Previously the law wasn't clear about the time limit – in fact it was defined as a "reasonable length of time". That gave retailers the opportunity to wriggle out of treating you fairly by setting their own "reasonable length of time", which could be as little as seven days in extreme cases.
What about rights when you buy digital items?
For digital buyers, this will be the first time they have been given clear legal protection. The new rules will cover any digital content –anything you download or stream – including apps, music, movies, games or ebooks.
Anything else I should know?
Challenging unfair terms should now be much simpler. The key terms of a contract, including price, can now be assessed for fairness. Previously they were exempt from a fairness test if they were written in plain language. The change means that a company won't now be able to enforce unfair terms.
Will retailers abide by the new rules?
They will have to or they will face possible prosecution. Crucially they must also ensure their staff are aware of the changes under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so that they don't run the risk of short-changing customers or breaking the law. You can find out all about the new rights at the Citizens Advice website – go. The consumer group Which? has also produced a useful guide to the Consumer Rights Act which you can find online at .
- How do I complain about Goods and Services?
Contact the seller/supplier as soon as possible, showing proof of purchase and explaining what you want to happen. You may need to put the complaint in writing. You can find template letters at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk which will help you to complain. You need to be reasonable and give them a chance to put things right. If the supplier/seller belongs to a trade body then they will have a clear complaints procedure that you can follow.
- I bought a car on a hire purchase agreement. Can I sell it?
Buying on HP means the goods are not legally yours until you pay all the money due. You cannot sell them during the period of the agreement. You could ask the lender how much is due under the agreement, arrange to pay all monies due and then sell it.
If you are having difficulties paying the instalments, try to negotiate with the lender or seek advice. Please note that, if you have paid more than a third of the price, the lender will need a court order to recover the goods.
- I am fed up with junk mail. Can I stop it?
You can register at www.mpsonline.org.uk which will help to stop unwanted Direct Mail. There is another service that can help prevent unsolicited telephone sales calls. Go to www.tpsonline.org.uk
- What are scams and phishing.
A scam is an attempt to obtain money dishonestly. Phishing is usually an email or pop up that claims to be from a business, frequently your bank, asking you to update or validate your details. You should never give them any of your financial details or account information. You should forward the email to your bank.
- I have received a letter from an energy company saying that they are my new suppliers. I did not change suppliers. What can I do?
With doorstep sales it can be very easy to be led into changing suppliers. If you did not change, then there is an Erroneous Transfer Customer Charter. You can contact either your old or new supplier and say that you did not agree to any change in supplier. The supplier you contact will then contact the other energy company to resolve the matter. They should explain when you can expect to be transferred back to your original supplier and that you will only be charged once for the consumption of energy during this period.
Before changing suppliers it is useful to check the comparison websites for information on prices etc.
- I bought groceries online but the price on delivery is different to the price quoted online. What are my options?
This is because the price you pay is generally the in store price on the day the groceries are put together for delivery. The online price is a guide price. You can cancel your order if the delivery price is more than the guide price, as it can be seen as a breach of contract. Online supermarkets have agreed with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to have clear information about their pricing policies on their website and that any ‘special offer’ prices online will be treated as firm prices for orders delivered within the offer period.
- What rights do I have buying goods from home?
You have the right to return or cancel your order. You should cancel within 7 days and tell the seller in writing (letter, email or fax). Please note there are some exceptions to this such as perishable goods, goods which have been unsealed like CDs, personalised goods. This is not an exhaustive list and you can see more details at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk.
- I have been turned down for a loan. What can I do?
You should ask the lender which credit reference agency they used to get information about you. There are 3 main UK agencies:
Write to the agency requesting your file details. There is a fee for this service. You should receive the details within 7 working days and you can ask them to change it if it is not accurate. You can not get it changed if you just do not like what is on file.
- Callcredit plc. PO Box 491, Leeds LS3 1WZ.
- Experian Ltd. Consumer Help Service. PO Box 8000, Nottingham NG1 5GX
- Equifax plc. PO Box 1140, Bradford BD1 5US
- I bought a mobile phone and want to change my Network Service Provider but the current provider says I have to still pay them too. What can I do?
When you buy a phone you need to be connected to a network to use the phone. You enter into a rental contract or buy a prepaid voucher. It is at this point that you have entered into a contract. You have contracted to use a certain network for a certain tariff for a minimum period of time. You have no legal right to change tariff or cancel just because you have changed your mind. You can ask your existing network service provider if they will allow you to change tariff but they do not have to agree to this. There is usually a ‘cooling off’ period in the contract of 7 days in which to cancel, but if this has passed you will need to wait until the contract ends.