One of the first big changes implemented on 01 October 2015 affected all businesses offering goods and services to consumers.
You may have been familiar with the old Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 which enshrined your customer’s statutory rights and remedies in the event of faulty goods or a poor service. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 replaced this legislation, ushering in a new era of consumer rights.
The language didn’t change much, but the actions you are required to take if there is a problem, certainly did.
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How the act affects the sale of goods
These have to be;
- of satisfactory quality
- fit for any particular purpose
- must match descriptions or samples
- be correctly installed (where agreed as part of the contract).
Where goods don’t meet the above the consumer will now have tiered remedies and this includes;
- A 30 day short-term right to reject where a full refund can be sought and the refund must be given within 14 days of it being agreed (this right does not apply to faulty installations)
- If the consumer chooses not to exercise the above right or is outside of the 30 days then they are entitled to claim for a repair or replacement
- If a repair or replacement is not available then the consumer has the final right to reject the goods.
- If the faulty goods caused additional damage to persons or property then there is a right to compensation
As for evidence, where defects are discovered within six months and the consumer asks for a repair, replacement or price reduction or even the final right to reject, there is an assumption that the goods were faulty at the time of delivery. After six months the consumer must prove his case.
How the act affects services
The language is familiar; the job must be carried out with reasonable care and skill, anything written or said to the consumer is binding if they rely on it, and if no price was agreed beforehand then only a reasonable price can be charged. Likewise, if no specific time for completion is agreed then it must be carried out within a reasonable time.
The main change here is the remedy, consumers will have the right to a ‘repeat performance’ if the job isn’t done correctly the first time or ask for a price reduction. Traders cannot make repeated attempts at getting the job done correctly if the customer doesn’t want it and price reductions are unlimited so that could extend to a total refund.
The previous regulation was the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, which dealt with the small print in consumer contracts. The Consumer Regulations Act 2015 swept away those regulations and replaced them with a requirement for terms and contract notices to be fair.
A term is unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties rights and obligations under the contract to the detriment of the consumer. In other words if what you say is all in your favour and not the consumers then it will have no effect and probably be regarded as unfair.
What other changes will come into effect?
Any business that is obliged by law, or through membership of a particular trade association, to use a certain alternative dispute resolution or ADR provider, or which has voluntarily committed to use an ADR provider (and this includes Which? Trusted traders) must provide information about the ADR provider on their website and, if applicable, in the terms and conditions of any sales or service contracts.
In the event of an unresolved dispute, all businesses must provide information about an appropriate certified ADR provider to the consumer and advise whether or not they will use ADR in an attempt to settle the dispute. Businesses operating in sectors where the use of ADR is voluntary will have to advise consumers whether or not they are willing to refer the complaint to an appropriate ADR body.
As of 01 September 2016, all Which? Trusted traders should use the following information on their websites and terms:
As a Which? Trusted Trader we have a range of support services available to us and our customers. One of these services is access to an independent Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, which enables our customers to seek an impartial review of a complaint in the unlikely event that we are unable to resolve it between ourselves.
This is a free service for the customer, offered by Dispute Resolution Ombudsman, an approved government scheme. Further information about the Ombudsman can be found at http://www.disputeresolutionombudsman.org/which-trusted-traders-partnership/ or by telephoning them on 0333 241 3209
- We explain more about alternative dispute resolution services
- More on the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015
- Find out about the Which? Trusted Traders Code of Conduct