What are consumer rights?
Citizens of the UK are advised that their rights when it comes to claiming refunds or damages for mis-selling that it all depends on the situation.
When you have been sold a faulty product, including electronics and technology, it must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described by the seller. Physical goods and digital content both fall under these categories, so if you were wrongly sold an online service (such as article writing or a streaming service) these rights also apply to you.
Consumer rights are protections you can use when shops, retailers and companies refuse to give you a refund. Often, you need to merely mention these rights for them to offer the refund, but sadly sometimes you need to take the claim further.
Your Consumer Rights: Faulty Goods and Services
When you want to claim a company which has mis-sold you something or an item is faulty, it’s important to understand the rules. If you claim that the product didn’t meet your standards, you must outline why.
Often, if you are talking to a well-established and reliable company, they will grant you a refund with no questions asked. However, if this is not the case, you must convince Trading Standards that you deserve a refund. Any times when consumers have the right to return the goods or services they were sold must fall under at least one of the following categories:
Satisfactory Quality – All goods sold to you must be at a certain level of quality that most people would expect to be reasonable. Second-hand items and cheaper products will be held to lower standards than expensive or luxury products. For instance, the damage was done to the product when you received it will come under this rule.
Fit for Purpose – The products you buy must be able to do the tasks that they were supplied for. If the seller informed you they could do something that they cannot, this item was mis-sold to you. They also must fit any requirements you told the retailer you had before you agreed to buy.
As Described – Services and goods need to be as similar as possible to any products you were shown as samples or to the description you were provided with. If this is not the case, there is a good chance you can claim against the seller.
The products that you buy in the UK must meet these requirements. If you have spent money on something that doesn’t, then you need to start thinking about claiming a respected claims management who will get you what you’re owed.
How long do you have to return a product to get a refund?
The Consumer Rights Act makes it law that if what you have bought is of unsatisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described then you are entitled to a full refund.
This forms the basis of your ‘statutory rights’ in a consumer context, and is called your ‘right to reject.’ These rights are limited to just 30 days from the date that you took legal ownership of what you bought.
When you bought something online, you don’t have ownership until it has been delivered to you. Your rights will, therefore, last for 30 days after the product was delivered. When you buy goods after using it for a free trial, your ownership starts when the payment has been made.
This ensures that consumers always have thirty days where they have the product or service AND have paid for it. If one of these things has not happened, then you don’t have ownership yet and will still have your right to return once you do.
With digital content, the seller always has the right to offer a repair or replacement of the service once after you make your first complaint. If they fail to satisfy your requirements, you can then demand a full refund.
If you bought online, the Consumer Contracts Regulations also protect you. These make it easier for purchases made online, via an app, or over the phone to be refunded. Consumers and businesses alike should be aware of this, as they can make a big difference to specific claims processes.
Sometimes using information available from Citizens Advice Bureau can be enough to get you a full refund, but if the company is playing hardball then getting in contact with a reliable claims management company is often the only way forward.
Claiming a refund after the first 30 days
You can still make claims for a refund at any time within the first six months, but, the seller will have the right to offer you a repair or a replacement instead. You have the right to choose between a repair and a replacement, as long as they are of similar expense to the seller. If one is significantly costlier to the retailer, they have the right to refuse that option.
If when you receive a repaired or replaced good, it is still not up to the standards you expect, you have the right to claim a full refund if you return the product. If you wish to keep the product, you also have the right to ask for a partial refund, which equates to a lower price paid.
Your right to a full refund if they fail to satisfy your complains lasts for sixth months. Once you have bought a product, the onus is on the retailer to prove the product was of satisfactory quality before you bought it, as long as you have owned it for less than six months.
Claiming a refund after six months
It becomes much more difficult to claim a refund once the six-month mark has passed. At the date six months after you bought the product the rules change.
At this point and later, it becomes the responsibility of you and your claims management company to prove that the product was not of satisfactory quality when you bought it. This can be difficult.
In some cases, experts can help you by offering their opinion of the damage of reasonable use and determine quality from that. Other times, the fault might be found by many different people. If you are fortunate for this to happen, it will be much easier to prove that the fault was there at the time of purchase. This is relatively common with goods such as vehicles and machinery – where there might be unsuitable parts which wear out after a just few months of regular use.
For electronics, such as mobile phones or computers, it can be harder to prove the extent of your use and what is wrong. However, even if the device worked for the first six months, that doesn’t mean it was up to high-quality standards, so seeking expert advice can help you get your money back.
When the seller refuses to cooperate in the refund
If the company that sold you your goods, services or digital content refuses to help you when you have a complaint or a claim, you need to report the issues you are having to your local trading standards office. You can do this directly, but if you want to be confident of the best and fastest service, then speaking with a claims company will ensure this.
In cases where the seller is a company, you should always pursue the refund. With the right claims management, you will usually be successful if you have a legitimate reason to ask for your money back. This is the case for any company limited by guarantee, limited company, or other organisation. In the case of purchases from a registered charity, it can be a little harder. Supplying trading standards or your claims team with the charity number, alongside the other details, can help speed up the process.
If you bought an item from another person, who is not a seller by trade, then it is solely to their discretion. If they do not want to give you a refund, there is no way to make them do it. In consumer protection law, the phrase “buyer beware” is used.
What information do you need to make a claim?
To make a claim, you must have the following information about the purchase you made:
- Proof of purchase, such as a bank statement or a receipt
- The faulty item, with the fault being left clear to see
- Any evidence that the seller mislead you at the time of purchase regarding the quality of the item
All of these are required in most cases to get a full refund. Sometimes, this can be bypassed. In the case of a service that was wrongly sold to you, it can be harder to provide evidence of the fault in what was done for you. If you were sold face-to-face, it could be difficult to prove that the salesperson was dishonest at the time of purchase. Keeping a record of everything as and when it happens can help you in these cases.