Consumer rights have been given one of the most significant overhauls in a generation and whilst its aim may be to streamline 8 pieces of legislation into one (which should ultimately aid both business and consumer alike) such major changes can present confusion, at least in the medium term following its release.
Of course as an online retailer you’ll likely want to know exactly what this means for you, your business and your daily operations. So here we explain how the consumer rights legislation has changed and what this means for both consumer and business alike.
“This is the biggest shake up of consumer law for a generation, bringing legislation in line with the fact many people now buy online”.
- Vince Cable, Business Secretary
Biggest Shake up in a Generation
The re-working of this age old legislation will see consumers granted with more rights than they had previously and will come into effect as of October 2015. One flagship change that may be an overdue addition will be rights to return faulty goods and have replacement rights for faulty digital content (such as online movies, music, e-books and games) for a 30 day period. This 30 day period will become set in stone for these purchases, as well as for physical product purchases (before now retailers have been relatively free to follow this only at their own discretion).
In a more general sense consumers will also benefit from a repair or replacement for substandard services which may then lead to a price reduction should the outcome then be unsatisfactory.
Another significant change within the legislation, and one that will affect businesses far and wide (particularly those that may have otherwise seen high dissatisfaction rates at obscure or extensive terms and conditions) is that consumers will be able to directly challenge terms and conditions which are either hidden or considered unfair.
A final change to Consumer Rights relates to the repairing of physical goods. Consumers will be able to expect a satisfactory repair service or receive a partial refund following one failed repair. This will be true even where there have been more than 30 days since the purchase.
“For too long consumers and businesses have struggled to understand the complicated rules that apply when buying goods and services”.
- Jo Swinson, Consumer Affairs Minister
While the legislation changes undoubtedly add new consumer rights which must be adhered to, this change should serve to simplify the process of understanding and implementing consumer rights for the modern business.
For the business dealing with, or solely, in digitized goods the changes will be the most significant, with service based industries almost equally as impacted, and with those trading in traditional goods less so.
As well as consumer rights however, this legislation also bolsters business’ rights, with them now benefiting from at least 4 hours’ notice from trading standards to prepare for an inspection, in addition to quicker and cheaper remedies for companies affected negatively by competition law breaches.
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