Consumer rights: the basics

Consumer rights laws are a set of regulations that are put in place by the government to protect members of the public when they purchase any goods or services. Consumer rights laws help to resolve situations where conflict has arisen due to any unfair treatment of the consumer or as a result of the process going wrong in any way.

As a consumer, you are protected if you receive faulty goods, counterfeit goods or poor service. The same laws also apply should you deal unknowingly with rogue traders, or suffer financially as the result of a credit card or store card issue. Problems such as these occur regularly and can affect buyers at any time. 

The consumer rights laws were updated in October 2015, with the Consumer Rights Act replacing pre-existing legislation. The Consumer Rights Act states that all products, digital and/or physical, must be sold as described, be fit for purpose and be manufactured to a satisfactory quality.

What do these criteria mean? In this case, 'as described' means that goods and services should match any description that was given to you upon purchase, or match any smaller samples or models that were provided or shown to the consumer as an example before the sale.

Meanwhile, 'fit for purpose' means that any goods bought should perform the function they were intended and sold for, as well as any specific purpose that you discussed its use for with the retailer before you agreed to the purchase.

Finally, the need for 'satisfactory quality' ensures that goods should not be damaged or otherwise faulty when the consumer takes possession of them. Satisfactory quality can be relative however, as budget products will not come with the same expectations of quality as higher-end fare.

If the product you have purchased does not match the criteria of being as described, fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality, then the Consumer Rights Act entitles you to a full and unequivocal refund within 30 days of the sale. After this 30-day period, you will not be protected by the act if the item develops a fault, although sellers may offer an extended refund window at their discretion.

If you believe you have a case as a consumer, then seeking legal advice in complicated matters or those that fall outside of the 30-day window is advisable. The right to refunds does not apply to all goods (for example, digital downloads such as apps, games, music or eBooks are exempt), but a specialist legal expert will be well placed to provide more assistance given your case.

In some cases, a faulty product may cause damage to your property. Under these circumstances, a legal service provider will not only help you to gain a refund or replacement but may pursue compensation on your behalf.

For example, if a dishwasher or washing machine fails, resulting in a flood in your home, it may be necessary to claim for damage to carpets, flooring, electrical sockets or soft furnishings. The number of damages that can be claimed for will typically be a reflection of the cost incurred to return the property to its former state.

Consumer rights can prove to be complex, with a range of options and scenarios available for almost every issue you may face. In order to ensure that you get the best result and settle the dispute to your satisfaction, why not find and compare legal service providers with The Law Superstore now?

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Steve Clark

Steve creates helpful guides for The Law Superstore. He enjoys digging deep into new areas of the law, supporting partners, and translating legalese and jargon into plain English everyone can understand.