Personal Finance

Six things to know about new consumer rights laws

Last week saw major changes to your shopping rights, after a new Consumer Rights Act became law on the 1 October. It is the first time there has been a change to your legal rights as a consumer in 30 years and contains some important new rules.

Here’s what you need to know.

1. 30 days to refund for faulty goods

You are now entitled to a full refund if you buy faulty goods for up to 30 days from the date of purchase. This replaces the old law which allowed for refunds for a “reasonable time”. 

It is the first time there has been a clearly defined time period for getting your money back if there is something wrong with your purchase. In the past you might only be offered a repair, but now you have the law behind you if you ask for a replacement or refund.

2. Digital purchases are now protected

A vital update in the new Consumer Rights Act is protection for digital purchases. The new rules state that if you buy digital content such as music or video downloads or ebooks, they have to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described. If they aren’t then you have a right to a refund in the same way as with a physical product.

3. No more late deliveries

The new rules also mean companies will be punished if you don’t get your goods in a reasonable time. Retailers have to deliver purchases within 30 days, or on the date that has been agreed. If they don’t manage that you are now entitled to a full refund.

4. Services must be up to scratch

It isn’t just goods that are covered under the new laws: now you have more rights when you purchase a service. Whether it is a garage repair or a haircut or gardening if the work isn’t carried out with reasonable care, as agreed with the consumer, the provider will be obliged to put things right or give you a refund. So, no more bad hair days as a result of a botched hair cut.

5. Simpler terms and conditions

You should be able to challenge unfair terms and conditions far more easily under the new rules. The key terms of a contract – this includes the price – can now be assessed for fairness. In the past a company could argue its terms and conditions were exempt from fairness tests because they were written in plain English but that is no longer the case.

So, if you think you’ve been had by the small print you can now complain.

6. Protection from October onwards

Anything you purchase on or after 1 October are subject to the new Consumer Rights Act. But it doesn’t protect things you bought before then. If you have a problem with a purchase made before October then you be subject to the old consumer rights rules. These do provide some protection but not for digital purchases or services.


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