By Dean Dunham – 2 January 2022
Happy New Year! As I embark on another year of writing my consumer advice column for readers, I wanted to start the year with a round up of the eight key rights consumers have when it comes to buying goods and services. These will be the core of many readers issues I deal with during the year and many consumer matters that I will be writing about.
- Short term right to reject
If you buy goods and they turn out to be faulty within the first 30 days of purchase, or if later delivery, you can invoke what is known as the short-term right to reject under the Consumer Rights Act. The catch is that you have to prove the goods are faulty (it is not the retailer that must prove this) but if you can prove this (usually its obvious) you will have the right to an immediate refund.
- The right to return goods purchased online
The Consumer Contracts Regulations apply when you buy goods online. These regulations provide consumers with the option to ‘change their mind’ about goods purchased online and ask for a refund; so long as the request is made within 14 days of delivery.
By contrast, you do not have this right if you buy goods instore.
- Your basic rights in relation to goods
The Consumer Rights Act says goods must be ‘as described’ ( so they must meet any description the seller provides), fit for purpose (that is fit for the purpose the goods were sold for) and be of satisfactory quality (so, if the goods are advertised as being new, they must be in pristine condition.
Goods must also be legal and safe to use.
- Your basic rights in relation to services
When the likes of a plumber and electrician provides you with a service, they must do so with ‘reasonable care and skill’. If they fail to do this (basically meaning they have provided a poor service) the Consumer Rights Act says they must repeat the service or put right what they have not properly and this must be done at the traders cost.
- Your rights when you pay for goods and services on your credit card
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act says if you buy goods or services on your credit card, and the price is between £100.01 and £30,000 you will be able to make what is known as a ‘section 75 claim’ if something goes wrong and the trader refuses to deal with the problem. If successful, the card provider reimburses your account and then takes up the fight with the trader in your place.
- Your rights when you pay for goods and services on your debit card
This is similar to when you buy on our credit card, but debit card purchases are protected under section 75. Instead, we have the ‘chargeback’ scheme which is similar but with two distinct differences, the first is that it is a voluntary scheme (not underpinned by a legal act) and secondly, there is a time limit to make a claim; 120 days from the date of purchase.
- Your rights when you book a package holiday
Package holidays (typically where you book the accommodation and travel together) are protected under the Package Travel Regulations (as they are known in short). This gives you a great deal of protection if something goes wrong with the holiday.
- Your rights when flights are delayed or cancelled
European Law (EU261) deals with flights delays and cancellations. Following Brexit the UK adopted this law but now calls it UK261. The basic position is i) if your flight is cancelled you are entitled to a full refund within 14 days and ii) if your flight is delayed, you meet certain criteria and the reason for the delay was not an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, you will be entitled to a prescribed rate of compensation.