Shopper power! 30-day refunds now guaranteed
SHOPPERS are to be entitled to a full refund up to 30 days after buying items – including cars – that turn out to be faulty.
Changes to the law, which come into effect on Thursday, have been described by the consumer group Which? as the biggest reform to shoppers’ rights in a generation.
They mean retailers will no longer be able to offer repairs instead of a refund – which can take weeks and cause a lot of inconvenience.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is designed to clear up the confusion that currently means retailers get away with selling products that break or do not work as claimed.
It also ensures tradesmen fitting kitchens, bathrooms or doing other work around the home deliver the service and quality that was promised. There are also new rights for refunds covering digital downloads, such as games and films, which either do not work or might even damage a customer’s devices.
At the same time, companies, including budget airlines, will no longer be allowed to hide charges in their smallprint.
Research by Which? has found businesses can be quick to refuse to help customers who have been sold a shoddy product or service. The new law is designed to ensure shoppers can enforce their rights.
Richard Lloyd, the group’s execu- tive director, said it will ‘strengthen consumer rights’, adding: ‘Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and challenging unfair terms should all be made much simpler.
‘Businesses now need to ensure their staff are aware of the changes so they’re not short-changing customers or breaking the law.’ The Act is designed to consolidate and improve several existing laws.
The biggest change is the ‘early right to reject’ a product that turns out to be faulty or not what was claimed within 30 days in return for a full refund rather than being offered a repair.
It also gives better protection for shoppers where a product fails more than 30 days but less than six months after purchase. In this case, the store or garage can offer a repair but, if this does not work, the customer has a legal right to a refund or replacement.
The new rules will not affect the voluntary refund policies that many retailers run, where shoppers can return items for any reason for some weeks after a purchase. They also take into account the fact that families are doing more shopping online and confirm that people have a 14- day period to return items bought over the web.
Consumer blogger Helen Dewdney, who uses the name The Complaining Cow, said: ‘It’s essential that consumers understand their rights and know how to assert them when necessary.
‘Many stores want to shirk their legal responsibility and provide a repair or replacement, rather than give a full refund. Unless consumers know that they can insist on this refund up to 30 days from purchase it is likely that many retailers will continue to fob them off.’