Have you ever purchased goods or services, only for them to be faulty or not fit for purpose? Retailers and service providers are often found wanting in their response to customers when it comes to these issues, so it is important to be aware of your legal rights so that you can resolve any issues in the most effective way.
If you purchased goods or services after 1 October 2015, then your rights are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The Act covers consumer rights in terms of both goods and services, so can apply to different situations, for example faulty products or work carried out by a tradesperson.
The Act provides that any goods purchased by a consumer must be:-
- Satisfactory quality – goods cannot be faulty or damaged when received by a consumer,
- Fit for purpose – goods should be fit for the purpose they were supplied for, as well as any specific purpose you made known to the retailer before you agreed to purchase, and
- As described – the goods supplied must match any description given to you, or any models or samples shown to you at the time of the purchase.
Should goods purchased satisfy the criteria above, there will be a claim and the Act details several remedies available to a consumer in the event of a breach of their statutory rights. Each situation will be different so it is important to be aware of the different remedies available should an individual wish to claim under the Act.
30 Day Right to Reject
Under the Act, you have a right to reject goods and obtain a full refund if they are of unsatisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described. To exercise this right there is a strict timescale of 30 days to make this claim, so it is important to act quickly when rejecting goods.
The consumer has a duty to make any goods available for collection by the trader or (if there is an agreement) to return them. The trader must bear any reasonable costs of returning the goods. The recent case of Christina Tenant Johnston and Peter Johnston against R&J Leather (Scotland) Limited recently highlighted that, where a consumer has made rejected goods available and the seller’s action (or inaction) entitles the consumer to do as he or she wishes and remove or destroy the goods.
Repair or Replacement
You can also ask the retailer for a repair of your goods or a replacement should they meet the criteria outlined above. This is useful if your claim falls out with the initial 30-day right to reject.
You can state a preference for a repair or replacement, but the retailer will be entitled to provide the most cost-effective measure.
If the retailer attempts repair works and these are unsuccessful, you have a further right to reject the goods and receive a full refund.
Further Time Limits
Within the first six months after purchasing goods, the onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault wasn’t there when a consumer purchased the goods. If a fault develops after six months, the burden rests with the consumer to prove that the product was faulty at the time of delivery.
In Scotland, you ultimately have five years to raise a claim in the court. This five year time period runs from the date that the goods were purchased/delivered.
Examples of services range from electrical or joinery work to lawyers or accountants.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 also offers protections against service providers, and any service provided must:-
- Perform the service with reasonable care and skill,
- Any information that is spoken or written is binding where a consumer relies on it
- Where the price is not agreed beforehand, the service must be provided for a reasonable price. What is reasonable is judged against what other traders in the same field would charge. If the trader over-charges it will be quite obvious.
- Unless a particular timescale for performing the service is set out or agreed, the service must be carried out within a reasonable time. Reasonable depends on the circumstances of the service provided, for example where specialist skills or work are required or where the work is complex.
If the work does not comply with the above standard a consumer has a right to a repeat performance of the service. If repeat performance is not possible or has already been carried out, there is a right a price reduction.
Fundamentally it is important to pursue any claims under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in good time in order to ensure consumers achieve the most appropriate remedy.
At Jackson Boyd, our Dispute Resolution team has extensive experience assisting consumers exercise their rights under the Act. If you think you have a potential claim, please contact us online today at 0333 060 1868.