The Consumer Rights Act became law on 1 October 2015, replacing three grand old pieces of consumer legislation - the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations, and the Supply of Goods and Services Act. It sets out your rights when you're buying products, services and digital content.
As with the Sale of Goods Act, under the Consumer Rights Act all products must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
The rules also include digital content in this definition. So all products - whether physical or digital - must meet the following standards:
One aspect of a product being of satisfactory quality is durability, in other words how long it lasts.
Durability takes into account many different factors like product type, brand reputation, price point and how it is advertised. For example you're unlikely to be able to claim a cheap kettle that's stopped working after four years isn't durable. Whereas a more premium and expensive kettle that's been well looked after and has stopped working after 14 months could be considered to not be durable, and therefore not of satisfactory quality.
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If what you’ve bought doesn’t satisfy any one of the three criteria outlined above, you have a claim under the Consumer Rights Act.
If you've bought a faulty product, you can read our guide, which shows you what you should do and how to make a claim.
If you want to make a claim under the Consumer Rights Act, you have several possible ways of resolving your issue, depending on the circumstances and on how you want the retailer to remedy the situation.
Your rights under the Consumer Rights Act are against the retailer – the company that sold you the product – not the manufacturer, so you must take any claim to the retailer.
What you can claim depends on how much time has passed since you physically took ownership of the goods.
Read on to find out what your rights are in the first 30 days and beyond.
Your 30-day right to reject starts from the date you take ownership of the goods.
For example, if you purchased your goods in store and then took them away with you, your 30-day right to reject would start from that day.
But, if you ordered in store to have your goods delivered later or if you purchased your goods online, your 30-day right to reject would not start until your goods are delivered to you.
Bear in mind that if you nominated a safe place or neighbour and your order is left there, then this will be interpreted as the parcel having being delivered to you, and your 30-day right to reject will begin.
Under the Consumer Rights Act you have a legal right to reject goods that are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described, and get a full refund - as long as you do this quickly.
This right is limited to 30 days from the date you take ownership of your product. After 30 days, you will not be legally entitled to a full refund if your item develops a fault, although some sellers may offer you an extended refund period.
This right to a refund doesn't apply to products you've bought as downloads, though - such as music, games or apps.
You can, however, ask for a digital product to be repaired or replaced if it develops a fault. And if this isn't possible, or is unsuccessful, you have the right to receive a price reduction.
The 30-day period is shorter for perishable goods, and will be determined by how long it is reasonable to have expected the goods to last. For example, milk would be expected to last until its use-by date, as long as it’s stored correctly.
If you are outside the 30-day right to reject, you have to give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace any goods or digital content which are of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.
You can state your preference, but the retailer can normally choose whichever would be cheapest or easier for it to do.
If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, you can then claim a refund or a price reduction if you wish to keep the product.
You're entitled to a full or partial refund instead of a repair or replacement if any of the following are true:
If a repair or replacement is not possible, or the attempt at repair fails, or the first replacement also turns out to be defective, you have a further right to receive a refund of up to 100% of the price you paid, or to reject the goods for a full refund.
If you don't want a refund and still want your product repaired or replaced, you have the right to request that the retailer makes further attempts at a repair or replacement.
Use our step-by-step guide if you want to ask a retailer to repair or replace something you've bought that subsequently develops a fault.
If you discover the fault within the first six months of having the product, it is presumed to have been there since the time you took ownership of it - unless the retailer can prove otherwise.
During this time, it's up to the retailer to prove that the fault wasn't there when you bought it - it's not up to you to prove that it was.
If an attempt at repair or replacement has failed, you have the right to reject the goods for a full refund, or price reduction if you wish to keep the product.
The retailer can't make any deductions from your refund in the first six months following an unsuccessful attempt at repair or replacement.
The only exception to this rule is motor vehicles, where the retailer may make a reasonable reduction for the use you've already had of the vehicle after the first 30 days.
If you'd prefer to keep the goods in question, you can request an appropriate price reduction.
If a fault develops after the first six months, the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time you took ownership of it.
In practice, this may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.
You have six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five years in Scotland.
This doesn't mean that a product has to last six years - just that you have this length of time in which to make a claim if a retailer refuses to repair or replace a faulty product.
For goods that have a digital element, such as a smart TV or digital content supplied in a physical form, you do have a 30-day right to reject it and get a refund.
This right applies if any part of the product, including the digital element - for example, the software on your smart TV - doesn't work properly or develops a fault.
The Consumer Rights Act defines digital content as ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form.’ Or in other words things like downloaded films, music, games and apps.
Just like goods, digital content must be:
If digital content does not conform to these criteria, you have the right to a repair or replacement of the digital content you've bought.
But if a repair or replacement isn't possible, or doesn’t fix the situation, you can ask for a price reduction. This can be up to 100% of the cost of the digital content.
The retailer will have to compensate you if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the faulty digital content you've downloaded.
This applies where that damage would not have occurred had ‘reasonable care and skill’ been exercised in the provision of the digital content - even if that content was provided free of charge.
The retailer is responsible for goods until they are in your physical possession, in the possession of someone appointed by you to accept them or delivered to your nominated safe place.
This is because your contract is with the retailer, who you bought the goods from.
So, if your goods are still undelivered and you would like to make a complaint, you should complain to the retailer - even if you think it’s down to a poor service from the courier.
If you’re in the unfortunate position to have had your parcel stolen, your rights will depend on whether you gave the retailer or courier permission to leave your parcel there.
Examples of giving permission include:
There is a default delivery period of 30 days, during which the retailer needs to deliver unless a longer period has been agreed.
If the retailer fails to deliver within the 30 days, or on the date that has been agreed, you can do the following:
The term 'service' covers a wide variety of services including large and small-scale work you might have carried out in your home or elsewhere.
From a small repair job on a vehicle with no written details to the installation of solar panels, from a haircut to major building work, all these require you to enter into a contract.
Services can be provided alone or they may be provided with goods, for example, the fitting of a new kitchen.
Examples of services provided without goods include:
Examples of services provided with goods include:
If you have a contract for any of the services above, the Consumer Rights Act sets out minimum standards that apply to the service and also remedies if the trader falls short of these standards.
Minimum standards that apply include:
If the service you’re provided doesn’t satisfy these criteria, you’re entitled to the following remedies under the Consumer Rights Act:
If you pay to travel by train, coach or ferry after 1 October 2016, you’re buying a service, and it must be provided with reasonable care and skill.
If the service you’ve received falls way below the standard you’d expect, you might be entitled to claim a full or partial refund. You can also claim for consequential losses.
Your rights under the Consumer Rights Act make it easier to challenge hidden fees and charges.
Some examples of terms that may be unfair under the Consumer Rights Act include:
If you think a contract term is unfair, you should complain to the trader.
If the trader doesn't agree, we recommend you seek legal advice before breaking the terms of the contract.
As a last resort, you could take the trader to court and the court will decide whether a term is unfair.
If the court decides that a term is unfair, you may be able to ignore the term or even cancel your contract without having to pay a cancellation fee.