A third of people unaware of new consumer rightsShoppers could be left out of pocket this Christmas

06 November 2015

New Which? research has revealed that 34% of people haven't heard of the new Consumers Rights Act - which came into force in October and strengthens shopping rights for consumers.

The survey found that consumers were unclear of their refund and digital rights and unsure what they’re entitled to if a product develops a fault.

The new Act – which became UK law on 1 October 2015 – gives consumers clear rights on refunds and repairs and new rights on faulty digital content.

The findings come during this year's National Consumer Week – jointly run by Citizens Advice and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) – which is urging consumers to 'Know your New Rights.'  

Find out more about your new rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

Refunds on faulty items

The Consumer Rights Act makes it clear that consumers now have a 30-day right to get a refund on faulty goods, such as electrical appliances, but our survey found that 69% of people didn’t know this.

Nearly half of the 2,065 UK adults we asked also didn’t know that if you buy something from a retailer and it develops a fault within six months of purchase, the retailer has a legal obligation to resolve your problem.

In fact your protection doesn’t stop at six months. Retailers may still be liable for repairs and replacements for up to six years - five years in Scotland - if you can show that the product was faulty when you received it.  

Retailers may also be liable if a product develops a fault during the period that it is reasonably expected to last.  

Don't be short-changed 

As consumers gear up for the start of the Christmas shopping season, it’s important that people know their rights to ensure they’re not short-changed.

CTSI chief executive Leon Livermore said: 'Retailers are responsible for training their staff, but consumers should spend a few minutes familiarising themselves with the new laws, too.

'Consumers who know their rights shop with confidence, saving time and money, which is good for all concerned.'  

Retailer or manufacturer?

When faced with a faulty item, 85% of people said they would prefer to return it to the retailer, as opposed to the manufacturer.  But many respondents were unclear that they had a legal right to take faulty goods back to the retailer.

Under the Consumer Rights Act your rights are against the retailer not the manufacturer if something goes wrong, so you should make your claim with the retailer.

However, you can claim under the manufacturer's guarantee if you prefer - if you think it might be quicker or easier to contact the manufacturer, for example.

Four in 10 people wrongly thought they didn’t have any legal rights outside of the manufacturer's guarantee if an electrical appliance develops a fault.

The good news is that your rights don’t end when the manufacturer's guarantee ends. Guarantees don't limit your legal rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

New digital rights

The Consumers Right Act also makes it clear that you now have rights if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the dodgy digital content you've paid for and downloaded.

But we found that 56% of people weren't aware that you're legally entitled to a replacement or repair if your digital download develops a fault.

More on this…