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Four major changes to consumer rights law on the way

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The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 will become law on 1 October. The Act is intended to “simplify, strengthen and modernise” consumer protections, and has been referred to as the biggest shakeup in consumer rights in a generation.

The Act will introduce clearer remedies and timeframes allowing consumers to claim a refund, repair or replacement on faulty or unsatisfactory goods, and poor services. The new legislation also outlines a consumer’s rights when they purchase digital content, for the first time.

Consumer group Which? has identified four of the biggest changes to emerge from the new Act:

  • Digital Rights

The Consumer Rights Act defines digital content as ‘data produced and supplied in digital form.’

The new law applies to any digital content which is paid for, supplied free with other paid-for items or supplied on a physical medium, such as CDs and DVDs.

It is also made clear consumers will now be compensated if any device or other digital content they already own is damaged as a result of the dodgy digital content they’ve downloaded.

  • Tiered Remedies

A ‘tiered’ remedy system will be established for faulty goods, digital content and services, clearly setting out a consumer’s right to refunds, repairs or replacements.

This means a consumer’s right to a refund will depend on how long they’ve owned the product, or the nature of the service received.

No deduction can be made from a refund in the first six months after purchase, with the only exception being motor vehicles.

  • Clearer Contracts

The new rules will make it easier to challenge hidden fees and charges in consumer contracts.

The Act requires the main elements of the contract – including price, and any other charges – to be brought to a consumer’s attention. Previously these terms were only required to be ‘legible’.

Over-promising salesmen will have to be careful, as the Act states if any additional pre-contract information is given and taken into account by a consumer when purchasing, the product or service must comply with that information.

  • Greater Transparency

Lettings agents must clearly publicise a full tariff of their fees prominently, on both their websites and offices.

Secondary ticketing sites (e.g. StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In) will be obligated to state the face value of tickets being resold.

The companies will also need to make it clear if there are any problems with sight-lines and if seats listed together are actually next to each other.

Importantly, these secondary ticket websites will also have to carry an email address for buyers in case problems arise with the tickets.

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