Effectively, the new rules combine Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999, Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977, Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
What this means for you:
• A new 30-day return period for faulty goods, simplifying and unifying a confusingly varied set of rules
• More rights to challenge misleading small print – Consumers will be able to challenge any terms and conditions they perceive to be unfair, or which are hidden in small print
• More redress for bad service – There will be a clear right to demand a price reduction for poor-quality services, or for them to be redone, for the first time
• It will be easier for consumers and small businesses to get compensation when a business is acting unfairly
• New rights will make it easier to get a repair or a replacement of faulty digital content such as online films, games, music downloads and e-books
Best of all this, I reckon, is the addition of clear rules surrounding the repair or replacement of digital content such as online games, music downloads, films or ebooks. It’s crazy that it’s taken so long to get this done, though – The internet took off at the end of the 1990s and legislation has taken decades to catch up! In fact, it took Tim Berners Lee just a few years to invent the internet, but 15 years for proper consumer protection for online content to come along.
When the revised consumer rights legislation comes into effect, there will be a new system to help businesses and consumers when they cannot resolve issues directly with one another. This will be via a system of certified third-party mediators, called Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers.
Once an internal complaint process is exhausted, businesses must give the consumer details of a certified ADR provider and tell the consumer if they are willing to use them.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive has been a catalyst for a number of new ‘ombudsmen’ appearing either as specialists for their sector or generalist providers. The term ombudsman is starting to be used far more loosely, and it is causing the landscape to become more complex for the consumer.
You can only go to one of these ombudsmen or ADR providers when an issue cannot be resolved. This is why Resolver really helps – if you cannot resolve, we know which ADR Provider to go to – and when – making it straightforward for the consumer and removing the minefield of ‘who can help me?’.