The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is the main law helping buyers when their purchases 'go wrong'. If you sell goods or services, it's important to understand the Act and your legal duties.
Sale of goods
Changes to consumer rights when buying goods include:
- Consumers have 30 days to reject a faulty item and ask for a refund
- Traders get one chance to repair or replace a faulty item before the consumer can ask for a full or partial refund
- Goods must also be installed correctly if that is part of the contract
- Traders may have to pay compensation to consumers for any losses they may have suffered as a result of faulty goods
Provision of services
When selling services, your duties include:
- Traders must provide services: with reasonable care and skill; at reasonable cost; and within reasonable time
- If a service is unsatisfactory, the trader is obliged to carry out the service again free of charge or to give a price reduction. Where the service cannot be repeated (e.g. wedding photography) the trader may have to give a price reduction. This may be up to 100% of the total cost.
For the first time ever the law sets out specific rules for selling digital content such as e-books, phone apps, downloaded computer software or games, streamed films or music etc. The rules state:
- Any digital content you sell must be: of satisfactory quality; fit for a particular purpose; and as described
- If you sell faulty digital content, you may have to provide a repair, replacement, price reduction or refund
- Occasionally, a digital content purchase can corrupt the operating system, device or other content such as photos. In those instances the trader is obliged to repair the damaged equipment or content or pay compensation even if the content was a free download.
These new provisions make it easier for consumers to challenge unfair contracts, including hidden charges. Download an introduction to unfair contract terms (PDF 1MB).
Terms that unfairly disadvantage a consumer are not legally binding.
The Consumer Rights Act also obliges the trader to provide the consumer with a statement saying that it cannot resolve the complaint. If the consumer wishes to pursue the complaint, the trader must provide the name and website address of an organisation (called an Alternative Dispute Resolution Provider) that could assist them with their complaint.
The trader must also inform the consumer whether they are prepared to work with that provider to resolve the complaint.
Know your legal responsibilities
- Do you need a licence?
- Get the right business insurance
- Comply with the law when providing goods and services
- Know your customers' rights
- Distance and online selling rules
- Understand pricing legislation
- Buying goods from outside NI
- Selling goods outside NI
- GDPR compliance checklist
- Pay your business rates
- Understand staff contracts and your responsibilities
- Taking on contractors and subcontractors
- Health and safety basics for business
- Know your legal obligations on pensions
Understand tax and VAT
Sell and market your products or services