Advice Column: Consumer Rights

 Thursday 8 December 2016

As part of the Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo weekly advice column this week we focus on the Consumer Rights Act.

 I’ve heard about changes to consumer rights. What does it mean and what do I need to know

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 stands alongside Regulations to create a greatly simplified body of consumer law. Taken together, they set out the basic rules which govern how consumers buy and businesses sell to them in the UK. The Consumer Rights Act came into force on 1 October 2015 covering:

  • what should happen when goods are faulty;
  • what should happen when digital content is faulty;
  • how services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not, or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill;
  • unfair terms in a contract;
  • what happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive;
  • written notice for routine inspections by public enforcers, such as Trading Standards; and
  • greater flexibility for public enforcers, such as Trading Standards, to respond to breaches of consumer law, such as seeking redress for consumers who have suffered harm.

UK consumers spend £90 billion a month. Transparent rights help consumers to make better choices when they buy and save them time and money. The law is now clearer and easier to understand, meaning that consumers can buy and businesses can sell with greater confidence. On occasions when problems arise, disputes can now be sorted out more quickly and cheaply. Alternative Dispute Resolution, for example through an Ombudsman, offers a quicker and cheaper way of resolving disputes than going through the Courts. The changes are relevant to all consumers and every business which sells directly to consumers.

Most of the changes were important updates to existing laws. But two new areas of law were also introduced.

  • For the first time rights on digital content have been set out in legislation. The Act gives consumers a clear right to the repair or replacement of faulty digital content, such as online film and games, music downloads and e-books. The law here had been unclear and this change has brought it up to date with how digital products have evolved.
  • There are now also new, clear rules about what should happen if a service is not provided with reasonable care and skill or as agreed. For example, the business that provided the service must bring it into line with what was agreed with the customer or, if this is not practical, must give some money back.

For more information and advice go to or telephone the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.

 Look out for our column next week when we focus on our Talk About Abuse campaign.

 The information contained in these articles does not constitute advice. Citizens Advice Exeter and The Express and Echo accept no liability for the information published. Citizens Advice Exeter is unable to respond to individual requests for advice through these columns. Copyright Citizens Advice. For the most up-to-date information, please visit