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Three consumer rights changes it pays to know

How much do you know about your rights? If you’re left with a faulty product or content that isn’t fit for purpose, it's important to know what you can do about it. This October marks the biggest shake-up in consumer rights law in a generation – what do you need to know?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into law on October 1 and includes clearer remedies for faulty products.

The new legislation also sets out - for the very first time - your rights when you purchase digital content online.

The Sale of Goods Act, Supply of Goods and Services Act and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations have all been replaced and will no longer govern new purchases from October 1 onwards.

We asked Adam French, from Which? Consumer Rights, to tell us about three of the biggest changes you should know.

1. Digital rights

The Consumer Rights Act defines digital content as ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form.’

If your digital content is unfit for purpose, of unsatisfactory quality or not as described, you’ll have the right to a repair or replacement in the first instance.

But, if the repair or replacement doesn’t fix the situation – or if such action will take too long, or it’s prohibitively expensive – you can ask for a price reduction or a full refund.

Exactly how you acquired the digital content is important, because the Act only covers:

  • Digital content you’ve paid for, whether that’s with money, a gift card or credits.
  • Any free digital content that is supplied with something you paid for. For example, an app or computer program you need to download in order to watch or listen to a paid-for online streaming service.
  • Any free digital content not usually available for free unless you pay a sum for it. A good example of this is when mobile game is available for free for a short amount of time on an app store, but usually costs something.

It is also made clear that you will now be compensated if any device or other digital content you own is damaged as a result of the dodgy digital content you've downloaded.


2. A 30-day right to 'reject’

A specific timeframe has been created in which you can reject a faulty item and get a full refund - now 30 days from the date you purchase the product.

Previously this had not been a specific timeframe but was described as a 'reasonable time' (in practice this was usually 3-4 weeks). The new Consumer Rights Act now gives clarity on this.

But importantly, this right doesn’t apply to digital content.


3. A ‘tiered’ remedy system

A 'tiered' remedy system will also be in place for faulty goods, digital content and services, clearly setting out your rights to a refund, repair or replacement.

This means that your right to a refund will depend on how long you've owned the product or the nature of the service you've received.

Further to this, no deduction can be made from a refund in the first six months after purchase - with the only exception being motor vehicles.

Watch our Which? Consumer Rights video for a summary of the changes. You can also take a look at our page on the Consumer Rights Act.

Did you know about the changes coming into force? How will they affect you?

This guest post is from Adam French and doesn’t necessarily reflect the views of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about Which? and what they do on their website.

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  • B. Arnold / 21 October 2015

    We purchased an electric rotisserie fromPosner's Electricals via Amazon 7/12/14, received 12/12/14, it never worked, the on button refused to stay depressed. Contacted retailer 15th, 16th, 22nd Dec 14, 3/1/15.. endless emails promising collection, never happened. Amazon sent us an email stating that a full refund would be forthcoming.. never happened, more emails to everyone...still waiting for collection and refund! I explained at length that both of us at home are disabled and that is why the item was purchased, no more struggling to get hot food out of a low set oven. The first Sunday we had it, we invited family for lunch and to see our new took over three hours, holding the button down with a chop stick to lightly brown the skin of a chicken, which remained uncooked inside. On our income, this was a considered purchase, I am filled with frustration bordering on hatred, every time I go into the cupboard that houses this useless, expensive piece of junk...still in it's original packaging and taped up for the collection that never was. Trying to obtain our refund was just a war of attrition that they won, we didn't have the mental energy resources to continue fighting.I look forward to any changes that would make me feel more protected.
    B. Arnold.

    We were just worn down by the never ending emails and eventually, though we could little afford to, we had to accept that this

  • Judith Blackwell / 19 October 2015

    This is really good and would like to get permission to post it on our company (housing association) web site.

  • Terry Brown` / 18 October 2015

    It is about time the law was changed to include digital wares. The old laws were made when the only option was to buy from a physical shop.
    Hopefully this will also include wares you buy from a shop elsewhere in the world and not just the U.K.

  • mike gray / 18 October 2015

    I have just purchased kitchen drawer sides and guides 16 in number.unfortunately twice the number I need they come in pairs but this was not made clear.Secondly the wrong length which I accept is my fault.the cost of the parts was £30 and £12 send them back and order replacements would cost a further £12 each way totaling another £24.What rights do I have with the postage as it would appear to be better to order new and hold on to the existing delivery.What are my rights with regard to postage reimbursement the order was made thro ebay