Well, firstly, the change in the law from 1st October 2015 comes in the form of the Consumer Credit Act 2015 (CCA). The CCA aims to empower the consumer further against sellers of goods and services. The CCA consolidates many principles already available to consumers under the Sale of Goods Act, Supply of Goods and Services Act and also principles regarding unfair contract terms. The CCA clarifies the rights of consumers and provides a single framework for consumers to reference when considering their rights.
The most notable reform under the CCA is the right to a full refund of the purchase price within 30 days if the product is faulty. Upon reading the CCA this appears to be a no questions asked remedy if the product is faulty, enabling the consumer, within 30 days of purchase, to obtain a full refund, rather than the pre-CCA situation where the retailer more often than not offered a replacement or store credit. This right did previously exist but the time period was less clear with the right to a full refund only existing for a ‘reasonable length of time’. What was ‘reasonable’ was often determined by the retailer’s terms and conditions and meant consumers were faced with a very short window for a refund, sometimes as little as 7 days. The previous statutory position provided the seller an argument that a full refund should not be given and enabled them to wriggle out of their obligations. The clarity provided by the CCA makes the position unambiguous and very difficult for a retailer to argue against.
The CCA also introduces new rules relating to digital media and clarifies the application of pre-existing principles of goods being of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and conforming with a description as applying to digital content. Previously, the non-physical nature of digital media created a bit of a grey area with protection as it did not fit neatly within the definition of goods or services because this type of product was not in the contemplation of the draftsman when the old legislation was created. With digital media taking over as the principle way to purchase songs, films and books, it is a welcome clarification in the law.
Under the CCA it will now be easier for consumers to challenge the terms in the contract such as hidden fees and other terms. It also means that all the principle terms of the contract, including price, can be challenged for fairness which was far more difficult prior to the CCA.
All in all, thumbs up for consumers!
All information is correct on the date of posting.