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New Consumer Bill of Rights Proposed

12 Jun 2013

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson has today unveiled plans to enhance consumer rights and make them easier to understand.

Predicted to boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade the proposals, outlined in the draft Consumer Rights Bill, will streamline overlapping and complicated areas from eight pieces of legislation into one consumer Bill. They also introduce new rights for consumers and businesses.

It is intended that the deregulatory measures will drastically reduce the time consumers spend resolving consumer problems – it is estimated that consumers currently spend more than 59 million hours a year dealing with goods and services problems.

Under the draft Bill consumers will have the right to:

  • get some money back after one failed repair of faulty goods (or one faulty replacement);
  • demand that substandard services are redone or failing that get a price reduction;
  • get a repair or a replacement of faulty digital content such as film and music downloads, online games and e-books.

The draft Bill also proposes a set 30 day time period for when consumers can return faulty goods and get a full refund.

It is hoped that the draft Bill will also benefit businesses, many of whom already go well beyond the minimum obligations set out in these proposals. But even the best businesses still have to spend significant time and resource understanding the law and training their staff to apply it, more than they should have to.

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said:

“For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse in relation to digital content.

“It is about time consumers knew what their rights are and businesses have clearer information on what is expected of them when problems inevitably do arise. That is why we have put clarity and fairness at the heart of the proposed Consumer Bill of Rights.

“We want to make sure consumers are confident about their rights in everyday situations be it their washing machine breaking down or an online game they purchased always crashing. This will also benefit businesses as they are going to spend less time working out their legal obligations when they get complaints from customers.”

New Measures in the draft Consumer Bill

New measures in the draft Bill that will benefit businesses include:

  • A new requirement for enforcers such as Trading Standards Officers to give reasonable notice to businesses when carrying out routine inspections, reducing costs to business;
  • Faster and lower cost remedies for businesses who have been disadvantaged from breaches in competition law;
  • A reduction in on going training costs – businesses will spend less time understanding their obligations or considering different scenarios when training staff.

If you would like more information regarding the issues raised in this article, you may find what you are looking for in our Trading Standards service page. Additionally, you can contact us directly to speak to one of our experienced team members personally.

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