Press release from BIS: NEW RIGHTS FOR CONSUMERS WHEN BUYING DIGITAL CONTENT

  • Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force on 1 October
  • Eight pieces of legislation streamlined into one
  • Making the law simpler for businesses and consumers

Consumers downloading music or buying ebooks are today being given new legal rights. Responding to the surge in the number of consumers buying digital content, the Consumer Rights Act will introduce specific rules entitling shoppers to a repair or replacement when digital products are faulty.

Shoppers are increasingly spending their money on digital content, with more than £2.8 billion spent on downloaded music, video and games in 2014, up 18 per cent from the previous year.

The law will also clarify rules around refunds, repairs or replacements of faulty goods.  This includes, for the first time, the creation of a specific timeframe of 30 days for consumers to reject a faulty item and get a full refund.

Research from 2014 shows that shoppers encountered more than 18 million problems with consumer goods and services in the preceding year, leaving people £4.15 billion out of pocket. The Act will make it easier for consumers to know their rights and to shop with confidence, by streamlining eight pieces of legislation into one.

Business Minister Nick Boles said: “Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights. UK consumers spend £90 billion a month and it is important they are able to shop with confidence. These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy regulations.”

Key changes include:

  • This will be the first time that consumers have had clear legal rights for digital content. Specifically, the Act gives consumers the right to repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online films and games, music downloads, and ebooks.
  • A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. The law was previously unclear on how long this period should last.
  • After 30 days, retailers have one opportunity to repair or replace any goods and the consumer can choose whether they want the goods to be repaired or replaced.  If the attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can then claim a refund or a price reduction if they wish to keep the product.
  • For the first time there are clear rules for what should happen if a service is not carried out with reasonable care and skill or as agreed with the consumer. The service provider will have to put the service right in line with what was agreed or, if that is not practical, must give some money back.
  • Consumers being able to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair or are hidden in the small print.

When a problem does occur, it will be easier for disputes to be settled. From 1 October, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers will be available to help when a dispute cannot be settled between the business and the consumer. The system offers a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than going through the Courts.

Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director said: “Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s shoppers. Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler.

“Businesses must ensure their staff are aware of the changes so they’re not caught out short-changing customers or breaking the law.”

Gillian Guy, Chief executive of Citizens Advice said: “Clear consumer rights are good for shoppers and businesses. The new laws coming in today should make it easier for people to understand and use their rights regardless of what goods or services they buy.

“Businesses have a real opportunity to show they value their customers by upholding their new rights and signing up to an alternative dispute resolution scheme. This means people have an independent body they can raise a complaint with if they haven’t managed to resolve their issue with the trader.”

Free and easy to understand information is available online to help businesses understand the changes, including via the Business Companion website. Businesses can also speak directly to an advisor about the changes via the Business Support Helpline.

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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