- By Paul Lewis
Shoppers this week gain the right to a full refund if something they buy goes wrong within 30 days . The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force on Thursday 1 October and its wide-ranging provisions clarify our rights as customers. If you buy something from a retailer it will have to be as it was described to you and of reasonable quality. It also has to be suitable for your purpose.
So if you ask a salesperson if a power drill will bore holes in masonry and it turns out it won’t, then it isn’t suitable. If the item you’ve bought fails one of these tests or develops a fault within 30 days, you can take it back and demand a full refund. You will need to provide proof of purchase. A receipt is good, but so is a credit card or bank statement. If the item goes wrong within six months, you have the right to a replacement, or to a repair if you prefer.
You do not have to prove the fault came with it. But you lose this right if the retailer can show that you broke or damaged the item. After six months, your right to a replacement or repair depends on you showing that the item was faulty when you bought it. In other words, at six months the burden of proof shifts from the retailer to you.
You can’t usally take something back to a shop for a refund just because you change your mind. Some retailers will let you do that, but they are not obliged to and may give you a credit note rather than a cash refund.
The new rules – except for the 30-day rule – will apply equally to digital products such as software,games, apps, ebooks, TV and films. If you buy something online or over the phone, then the same rules apply.
And you get one important additional right. You can cancel your purchase for any reason up to 14 days after it arrives. So in this case you can just change your mind and get a full refund. You then have another 14 days to return what you bought, in good condition of course.
Your refund should include the cost of delivery to you, but usually only at the cheapest rate, even if you paid extra for a faster service. Returning the goods will normally be at your expense, though if the seller didn’t make that clear or the item was faulty, then the seller should pay for it.
Further information Helen Dewdney has a website called thecomplainingcow.co.uk which explains the new Act. And her book How to Complain (third edition, 2015) is an excellent guide to your legal rights.
To order a signed copy of Helen Dewdney’s How to Complain: the Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! for £14 (usually £15) plus FREE p&p, call 01326 555752.