October 2015 heralds a wholesale overhaul of the UK’s consumer rights regime.
Designed to clarify and consolidate existing consumer law – which currently spans ten different acts – the new CRA also introduces some significant changes.
Intended to make the law clearer and easier to understand, the Act does present a number of challenges for businesses. It is expected that most companies will need to make at least some changes to their terms and conditions before it comes into force on 1 October.
What are the key changes?
|Change||What this means for you|
|Returning rejected goods||From October 2015, a consumer will only be obliged to return rejected goods to the trader if explicitly stated in the contract. Otherwise, the customer can simply make the goods available for collection. When the consumer does organise a return, the seller must pay the cost of this return (unless they are being returned to the point of purchase).
Where return by post is not practical, while the consumer cannot recover excessive costs, they may be able to claim damages related to the cost of returning bulky items to the point of purchase.
|Enhanced remedies for non-conforming goods||Under the new Act, consumers will have, in most cases, a 30 day short-term right of rejection in addition to a right of repair or replacement. This 30 day period will be shorter in the case of perishable goods. The short-term right extends by at least seven days if the business has to repair or replace the goods during this time. Sellers cannot reduce the 30 day period in their terms and conditions but can offer a longer period.
In addition, the buyer only has to accept one repair or replacement before moving on to final remedy, so sellers cannot repeatedly offer to repair or replace goods, without the agreement of the consumer.
This final remedy is a further right to reject or a price reduction and applies if repair or replacement are impossible or the seller’s one attempt at repair is unsuccessful or the first replacement is also defective. In certain cases e.g. motor vehicles the refund in the case of final rejection will be subject to a deduction for use.
|Rights and remedies for the supply of services||The new Act introduces terms to ensure that the consumer must pay a reasonable price for any services where no price has been agreed, and that the supplier must perform these services within a reasonable time.
Where suppliers do not carry out the agreed service within the agreed timescale or with reasonable care and skill, the legislation gives consumers the statutory right to require a repeat performance, or, if that is ‘impossible’, or not done so in a reasonable time without inconvenience, the right to a reduction in price.
|Digital content||With earlier legislation drafted before the digital era, the CRA introduces a number of new references to cover contracts for the sale and the supply of digital content.This is the first time that rights on digital content (such as online films, games, and downloads) have been set out in legislation.
Primarily, from October, consumers will be able to choose between repair or replacement of faulty digital content, providing the selected remedy is not impossible or excessively difficult. Also, where neither repair nor replacement are feasible, buyers can request an appropriate price reduction.
With the new rights and remedies taking up a substantial portion of the changes to the CRA, it is recommended that companies consider reviewing their terms and conditions to reflect these changes.
If you would like to find out more about how the new legislation impacts your business, or for a fixed-price review of your T&Cs, please contact Linder Myers today.