Know your rights: what the draft Consumer Rights Bill means for you

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Whether you are shopping for a new appliance or piece of furniture or investing in a kitchen or bathroom suite, protecting yourself against rogue traders and preventing being stuck with faulty goods is crucial. The latest recommendations to parliament in the draft Consumer Rights Bill promise to give more power to the customer as well as greater protection if things go wrong.

What is the draft Consumer Rights Bill?

The draft Consumer Rights Bill, first announced in the Queen’s speech in May 2013, proposes amendments to the current Consumer Rights Bill relating to the rights of consumers and protection of their interests when purchasing products or services. The amendments will make it easier for customers to make provision about investigating traders and enforcing regulation. It will also give people more rights if they receive a substandard service from a tradesperson.

In the first major review of the law since the 1970s, the changes to consumer law proposed by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, will aim to boost consumer protection, ensuring you have clear paths to resolve any issues with a product or service and make it easier for shoppers to understand their rights. With 21st century purchasing habits in mind, the Bill looks at protecting shoppers when buying online as well as in store.

How could the new Bill help shoppers?

The following improvements have been proposed:

Rights on…faulty goods

The Bill will make it clearer on when you can claim back money or get a product repaired if it develops a fault months after purchase, or even after the guarantee has expired. It will aim to demystify the time frames set out by retailers within which queries can be raised and products repaired or replaced.

Rights on…bad service

Received poor service from a builder or plumber? The new Bill will clarify who is responsible for fixing sub-standard work, which isn’t currently included in the law. For example, if you get a builder to fix a fault with your kitchen and a few days later the fault reappears, the new Bill should make it clear that you can get a refund or ask for the work to be redone.

Rights on…unfair contracts

Proposals in the new Bill suggest that unfair terms in a contract can be challenged if there are sufficient grounds to prove the terms are unfair. It should give consumers a greater understanding of their rights to influence a contractual change, instead of being bound by all terms.

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