New rules make rights clearer for customers and traders
The new Consumer rights Act applies to all retailers and trade sellers of goods and services, whether in a shop, online, in someone's home or at a Sunday market.
Jody Kerman, the Operations Manager at Oxfordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team said: “The government has decided to change a number of old and sometimes confusing rules so that traders will be clear on what they must do when their product or service is at fault and consumers will understand what they can expect of traders when they are not happy with what they've bought.
“The aim is to make disputes between consumers and traders more easy to resolve and help them settle matters without having to go to court.”
To support the changes, the government has also introduced new rules on "alternative dispute resolution" - a cheaper, faster alternative to suing a seller or buyer when something goes wrong.
For example, under the old rules it was not clear for how long a consumer had to "reject" a faulty sofa or how many times a car dealer could insist on repairing a problem car before the consumer could demand their money back. Sellers were often as unsure as the consumers. Many people were under the false impression that "statutory rights" only lasted as long as their warranty and that manufacturers were obliged to sort out problems not retailers.
The new rules will make all this clearer and there is now a fixed 30 day period in which a consumer can reject faulty goods they have bought from a trader, if there is a breach of their rights. Other remedies will be available for up to six years from the date of the purchase.
People who buy services from gardening or building services through to dry cleaning or will writing, can demand that the trader puts right faults with the service and get part, or all, of the price back if things can't be put right.
The National Citizens Advice Consumer Service will be educating consumers about the changes ( look out for information during National Consumer Week between 2 and 6 November) and The Chartered Institute of Trading Standards will be taking the lead on business education.
Locally, Oxfordshire County Council's Trading Standards Service has already run a number of business education seminars on the changes and another seminar is being held in Kidlington, in the evening on 16 November.
Jody added: "In the past there was too much confusion about what rules applied. No-one could be sure how much time you had to hand back a faulty car: was it a couple of days or as much as a few months? The rules were different if you paid cash or bought on hire purchase and no-one was sure how many times they had to offer or accept a repair before they had to give or get some kind of refund. These new rules should make things much clearer. Consumers will know where they stand and businesses will be able to set out what they must do and keep their costs low and their customers happy".
Contacts for this press release are Kate Davies and Jody Kerman at Trading Standards: 07770832798 and 07909905514.
The website for the Chartered Institute of Trading Standards is http://www.tradingstandards.uk/ and the website for the National Citizens Advice Consumer Service is https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/