If, like me, you’re about to start a home improvement project, which means engaging a builder and signing up to terms and conditions, you’re probably dreading the prospect of wading through the small print about your rights and obligations. Sometimes, let’s face it, we just can’t be bothered to read this stuff, because even when we try to understand it, we can’t. Trust me, I often find the terms and conditions thrown at me by various companies, both on-line and otherwise, pretty unintelligible. And I’m a lawyer!
Taking all this into account, we at Rocket Lawyer were very pleased to hear that the government has unveiled the new Consumer Rights Bill, which promises to enhance consumer rights and make them easier to understand. The bill will be the most significant development in consumer law for more than three decades.
So, what are the key points about the bill you need to understand? Well, for a start, it’ll try to make it easier for you to deal with matters when things go wrong. Under the bill, you’ll be able to ask for your money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement); to ask that poorly performed services are either redone or the price reduced; and, finally, bringing consumers rights into the digital age, you’ll be able to get a repair or replacement of defective digital content like music downloads and e-books. This last part’s a really welcome development, because the rules applying to digital content are currently particularly murky.
There’ll also be a set 30-day period when you can return defective goods. This will replace the current, rather vague right to return faulty goods within a “reasonable period”, variously interpreted by retailers as between 14 days and 2 months. Goods must be delivered within 30 days after the contract is made, unless you agree differently. Where delivery is essential, if the date’s missed, you can treat the contract as ended.
There’s also good news for businesses. People who can make your life difficult with routine inspections – like trading standards officers – will have to give reasonable notice to businesses when carrying out these sorts of inspections – which all sounds very sensible to me. The Bill now needs to go through the Commons and Lords and is unlikely to become law until 2014, but it’s definitely something to welcome for consumers and businesses alike. Watch this space for more updates as the Bill progresses.
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