By Dean Dunham 4 March 2022
When the Consumer Rights Act 2015 was brought into force in October 2015 it was another big step forwards for consumer rights, as we now had one piece of legislation that dealt with most everyday consumer issues (rather than several pieces of legislation) and we had a law that was fit for the twenty-first century.
However, one of the new law within the act that was supposed to be provide greater protection for consumers is in fact giving retailers an excuse to wriggle out of claims.
The short term right to reject (section 22 of the Act) provides that if goods are faulty within the first 30 days of purchase or delivery, the consumer can hand the goods back and demand a refund. Sounds good, but there is a major curve ball as consumers who invoke the short term right to reject must ‘prove’ the goods are faulty and if they cannot provide sufficient proof the retailer can simply say no. By contrast, if you return goods after 30 days and before six months, it is the retailer that has to the burden of proving the goods are not faulty and if they cant, the consumer is entitled to a remedy.
This is what happened to reader Sarah, who returned her new Renault Clio due to the car failing to start within ten days of purchase. The garage said it had been filled with the wrong fuel and was not there issue. Sarah says she did not do this but could not prove it. She ended paying for a repair.
Sarah is not alone, thousands of consumers have contacted me over the past six years with similar stories.
If goods turn out to be faulty in the first 30 days, you want a refund (as opposed to replacement) and you have clear evidence that there is a manufacturers fault; and therefore the issue has not been caused by mis-use/accidental damage, invoke your short term right to reject. However, if you do not have sufficient evidence, wait until day 31 and then complain. This will mean the burden of proof shifts to the retailer, but the downside is the retailer will be able to chose which remedy to invoke; refund, repaid or replacement.