Consumer Rights Act 2015 - What is the Consumer Rights Act?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 outlines the rights that consumers have when a product or service they have bought is faulty.

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It came into effect on October 1st 2015 and replaces the Sale of Goods Act 1979, unless the item was purchased on or before the 30th of September 2015.

What does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 cover?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 defines that products bought should be:

  • "Fit for purpose" - they must function under conditions outlined by the manufacturer, as well as for everyday use.

  • "As described" - the products should match what was shown in a showroom, store, brochure, etc.

  • "Satisfactory quality" - any issues or defects must be made clear to the customer before purchase so that they can decide whether they want to buy the product as it is, or not at all.

How and when do I make a claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

If you want to make a claim, it has to be dealt with via the retailer you bought the product from, not the manufacturer who makes the product. If you would like a refund, you have 30 days from the date of purchase to do so, assuming there’s a fault. If you’ve bought the item and had it delivered, then this 30 day period starts from the date of delivery.

The 30 day refund period doesn’t apply to digital content like downloads or music. However, you can ask for a repair or replacement.

If you’re past 30 days from the date of purchase, you can instead ask the retailer for a replacement or repair of the product, and they must be given an opportunity to do either of the two. If an attempt at repair or replacement isn’t successful, then you’re entitled to ask for a refund, or partial refund if you wish to keep the product.

However, there are some criteria that allow you to ask for a refund rather than a repair or replacement past 30 days. You can do so if:

  • the cost of repairing or replacing the product is excessive

  • a repair or replacement is deemed impossible

  • considerable inconvenience would be caused

  • repairing or replacing the item would take an unreasonable amount of time

How long do I have to make a claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

If the product you have bought develops a fault within the first 6 months, then the assumption is that the fault existed at the time of purchase. Therefore, the onus is upon the retailer to prove that the fault didn’t exist when the item was purchased.

After 6 months from the date of purchase, this onus shifts, and the consumer has to prove the item was faulty at the time of purchase. Doing so might call for evidence such as an expert opinion, or being able to show that this fault has developed with the product a number of times.

How does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 apply to services?

"Service" covers work done on any scale - large or small. Regardless of if the service is a small car repair or replacing the roof on your house - both of these scenarios and everything in between fall under the Consumer Rights Act regarding contracts.

This means that:

  • The work must be carried out with reasonable care and skill

  • Any information given to the consumer (regardless of verbal or written) is binding in any case that the consumer needs to use it when making a claim

  • If a price isn’t agreed before work starts, the work must be done for a reasonable cost

  • Unless a specific period of time is given for the work to be completed, then the work must be done within a sensible timeframe

If the service you’ve been given doesn’t align with the above points, then the work must be redone at no extra cost to the consumer. The re-do of work must also be completed within a sensible amount of time and not cause unnecessary inconvenience.

If redoing the work is impossible, would take an unreasonable amount of time, or would cause large amounts of inconvenience, then the consumer can claim a price reduction.

If the service or work is severely lacking, then this reduction can be up to 100% of the cost, and the company that carried out the work should refund the money within 14 days once they’ve agreed to the refund.

What does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 mean for businesses?

When writing a contract and trading with customers, it’s good to bear in mind what the Consumer Rights Act governs, so that you can conduct business in a proper way. By familiarising yourself with the act, you'll know your options when asked for a refund, replacement or repair.