New Consumer Rights Act enforces refunds for digital goods

October 1, 2015 // 11:52 a.m.

Tags: #bis #consumer-rights #consumer-rights-act #digital-distribution #nick-boles #refund #richard-lloyd #sale-of-goods-act

The UK government has sent live the new Consumer Rights Act, which offer a 30-day timescale for refunds on faulty digital goods.

Placed into force today by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, the new sections of the Consumer Rights Act introduce specific rules for ephemeral, digital goods previously only vaguely addressed in law. The biggest change comes with a specific timeline of 30 days for the consumer to reject digitally-distributed goods as faulty and still receive a full refund.

'Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights. UK consumers spend £90 billion a month and it is important they are able to shop with confidence,' claimed Business Minister Nick Boles of the new Act's extended rights. 'These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy regulations.'

The key changes in the Act include the right to repair or replacement of faulty digitally-distributed content, including films, games, electronic books, and downloadable music. In the first 30 days, the retailer must offer the buyer a full refund of the purchase price; after this period, the retailer can offer a repair or replacement and only if this fails should a refund - or partial refund with the buyer keeping the faulty goods - be offered. This is in-line with the rights associated with physical items.

'Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s shoppers. Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler,' claimed Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer rights group Which?, of the modified Act. 'Businesses must ensure their staff are aware of the changes so they’re not caught out short-changing customers or breaking the law.'

A summary of how the new Act affects customers can be found on the Citizen's Advice website, while the full Act itself is available from Legislation.gov.uk.
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