An overview of some of your consumer rights and how to enforce them.

1. Will the Consumer Rights Act 2015 apply to all of my contracts?

The Act only applies to contracts that you enter into as a trader with a consumer (cutomer). It does not apply to contracts with other businesses which are still governed by existing laws, neither does it apply to consumer to business contracts or contracts between consumers.

2. Who is a trader/what is a consumer?

Traders and consumers are specifically defined in the Act.

A trader is: “a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf”.

A consumer is: “an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession”. If the individual is acting in both a personal and business capacity, then the individual is presumed to be a consumer and it is the trader’s responsibility to prove otherwise if there is any doubt about the status of the person he contracted with.

3. What is a mixed contract?

The Act applies to contracts for the provision of goods and the supply of services, as well as introducing a new concept covering digital content.

A mixed contract is a contract that incorporates more than one of these concepts. For example, the sale of a CD or DVD will include goods (i.e. the physical disc) and digital content (e.g. the software, music or film contained on it), while the sale of patio doors may include goods (i.e. the doors) and services (i.e. the installation of the doors at the consumer’s home).

4. Can the consumer change their mind after the contract has been made?

The Act deals with situations where the goods, services or digital content are faulty or otherwise non-conforming. The trader is under no legal obligation to offer a refund to a consumer who simply changes their mind, although many traders do have a published returns policy for commercial reasons.

5. What can a consumer (customer) expect under their contract?

The Act gives customers certain statutory rights. These include:-

  • Goods: that the goods be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, as described and matching any samples or models previously seen.
  • Services: that the services be provided with reasonable skill and care, and performed in line with information provided.
  • Digital content: that the digital content is of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.

6. Can the trader cahnge the terms after the contract has been made?

As a general rule, no. Traders must provide consumers with all terms of the contract at the time the contract is entered into. It is therefore important for them to deal with matters upfront, particularly if there are any specific circumstances. That said they can change the terms of a contract but you the consumer has to agree to these changes.

7. can i as a consumer always make a claim?

The Act is meant to protect you the consumer, but this does not mean that you will always have a right to bring a claim. It may be, for example, that a fault has arisen because the you the customer has misused or been careless with the product, although this may not be easy to prove and the burden of proving whether a fault has been caused by misuse or not can switch between you and the trader.

8. If there is a trader and a manufacturer, who is ultimately responsible?

A customer contracts with, and has statutory rights against the trader. It is not unusual for third party manufacturers to offer guarantees, but these are in addition to the rights the consumer has against the trade and it is the customers choice who the chose to bring the matter to. If a consumer does look to pursue a matter against you, you may well have separate rights against the manufacturer or whoever you bought the faulty product from in the first place to fall back on.

9. How must I be refunded as a consumer?

If you are entitled to money back, then it must be provided in the same manner used for the original purpose, unless you agree with the trader otherwise. For example, if you paid in cash, then you are entitled to be refunded in cash. You cannot be expected to accept store credit, unless you agree to do so with the trader.

10. What evidence is required for me to be able to claim my rights?

In general you as a consumer are entitled to claim on your statutory rights, you will be required to provide proof of purchase in order to establish that such rights are being properly claimed. This could be the production of the original receipt, but a bank or credit card statement or some other form of evidence may suffice.

If you are a consumer or trader and have any concerns over your rights covered by the Act then please get in touch and we will happily advice you further. info@cawleyanddavis.com