Consumer Rights Act 2015: Five things you need to know about the new law

The new rules give you greater protection when buying goods, and for the first time you will have safeguards when you buy digital music, films, games or books

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The Independent Online

A new law? Is it good news?

Yes it is. The new rules that came into force yesterday give you greater protection when buying goods, and for the first time you will have safeguards when you buy digital music, films, games or books.

What are the key changes?

The most important reform under the new Act is the right to a refund within 30 days if you buy something that's faulty, whether you shopped online, in a high-street store, or at any other retailer.

Now you have up to 30 days to return a faulty item and you will get all your cash back, no questions asked. Previously the law wasn't clear about the time limit – in fact it was defined as a "reasonable length of time". That gave retailers the opportunity to wriggle out of treating you fairly by setting their own "reasonable length of time", which could be as little as seven days in extreme cases.

What about rights when you buy digital items?

For digital buyers, this will be the first time they have been given clear legal protection. The new rules will cover any digital content –anything you download or stream – including apps, music, movies, games or ebooks.

Anything else I should know?

Challenging unfair terms should now be much simpler. The key terms of a contract, including price, can now be assessed for fairness. Previously they were exempt from a fairness test if they were written in plain language. The change means that a company won't now be able to enforce unfair terms.

Will retailers abide by the new rules?

They will have to or they will face possible prosecution. Crucially they must also ensure their staff are aware of the changes under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 so that they don't run the risk of short-changing customers or breaking the law. You can find out all about the new rights at the Citizens Advice website – go to bit.ly/1FAyBNr. The consumer group Which? has also produced a useful guide to the Consumer Rights Act which you can find online at bit.ly/1WvDH1l.

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