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New law to give you greater consumer rights

publication date: Oct 7, 2014
author/source: Dean Dunham

Dean DunhamA new law has come into force that provides consumers with greater rights and protection in relation to unscrupulous rogue traders. This new law is called the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 and here’s how it benefits you.

What do these new Regulations do?

The regulations give consumers new rights where traders commit misleading or aggressive practices. A trader misleads you if they tell you something about the goods or services that they are selling you, or about their company, that is designed to lead you into agreeing to purchase from them when in fact the information is untrue or not completely true. Examples of such practices are when a trader:

  • sells you a broadband package and tells you that it has speeds of up to 20MB, when in fact it turns out that the speed is far less than this
  • sells you a product that they claim has been approved by an official body when in fact it hasn't
  • tells you that they are a member of a trade association when in fact they are not
  • harasses you or puts any form of undue pressure upon you to do something – this will amount to an aggressive practice.

What types of transactions are covered by the Regulations?

There are three types of transaction that are covered by the new Regulations:

  1. where the trader sells you something after telling you a lie about it (i.e. tells you that the car you are buying has 10,000 miles on the clock when in fact it has 20,000)
  2. where a trader convinces you to sell them something for a lesser price than it is really worth based upon lies (i.e. tells you that an antique item is very common whereas in fact it is very rare and, as a consequence, valuable)
  3. where you make a payment for a fine/penalty which is deemed to be unfair or aggressively collected (i.e. debt collectors acting aggressively).

What are my remedies under the Regulations?

 If a trader is misleading or aggressive towards you and the transaction is one of the types listed above, you will have three possible remedies:

1.Unwind the contract/agreement with the trader and get your money back – to do this you must complain within 90 days of the transaction and must be able to give the goods back or reject the service you have purchased. So for example, you would not be able to give back something that you had already consumed and would not be able to reject a service that you had already taken advantage of.

In relation to payment that you have made for a fine/penalty, you will only be able to get this back if you did not in fact owe the money.

2. Receive a discount – for goods or services under £5000 in value, you will have the right to a fixed discount as follows:

  • 25 per cent – if the problem is more than minor. This would be where you buy goods or services that whilst they turn out not be what you really wanted you still nevertheless can use them.
  • 50 per cent – if it is significant. This would be where there is a defect in the goods or service which amounts to poor workmanship and where the goods or service is deemed to be poor but still functional/acceptable.
  • 75 per cent – if it is serious. This would be where the goods or services are of no use without being replaced or getting a third party to rectify the problem. It is likely that rogue doorstep sellers would also fall into this category.
  • 100 per cent (full refund) – if it is very serious. This is where everything has gone wrong, the trader has targeted a vulnerable person, has been aggressive in their sales approach (perhaps on the doorstep) and what they have sold is simply no good.

The above is just examples of the type of issues that will fall into the appropriate categories. In reality this will be decided on a case by case basis.

3. Receive damages – you can claim damages where the loss that you suffer exceeds the price paid for the goods or services.  This can be for distress and inconvenience.

For further information about this or any other legal or consumer issue visit Dean’s website.