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Your consumer rights this Christmas

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Your consumer rights this Christmas

With Christmas around the corner, it is important to make sure you are armed with enough knowledge to understand your rights when it comes to buying goods.

Perhaps your best weapon this Christmas is the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the act).

Briefly, the act applies when a consumer buys goods or services from a trader. “Trader” means a person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf.

When it comes to goods being sold, the key point (amongst other rights) is that the act says the goods must be of satisfactory quality (section 9), fit for purpose (section 10), and as described (section 11). Importantly, with life moving to be ever more digital, the act also protects you when purchasing digital content. In terms of digital content, the act also says, digital content must be of satisfactory quality (section 34), fit for particular purpose (section 35) and as described (section 36).

So, what can you do if the inevitable happens and there is something wrong with the goods or digital content you have purchased?


With goods, you have three options:

1. The short-term right to reject (sections 20 to 22) within 30 days

If you order online, the 30 days runs from when the goods are delivered. It is important to know that the trader must cover any reasonable costs of returning the goods, other than any costs incurred by you as the consumer in returning the goods in person to the place where you took physical possession of them, i.e. the shop you bought them from.

2. The right to repair or replacement (section 23)

If you want to repair or replace an item, a trader must:

(a) do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to you as consumer, and

(b) bear any necessary costs incurred in doing so (including in particular the cost of any labour, materials or postage).

Whether you are entitled to a repair, or a full replacement depends on the proportionality of the cost of repair compared to replacement. This depends on a number of different factors including the value of the goods and the level of non-conformity of the goods.

3. The right to a price reduction or the final right to reject (section 24)

The price reduction itself can be the full value of the goods. You can only exercise these rights if:

(a) after one repair or one replacement, the goods do not conform to the contract;

(b) because you can require neither repair nor replacement of the goods because it would be impossible or disproportionate; or

(c) you have required the trader to repair or replace the goods, but the trader is in breach of the requirement to do so within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to you as the consumer.

Digital content   

With digital content, there are similar rights to those with goods. There is also a provision that if the trader also does not have right to supply the content, you have the right to a refund (section 45)

Other rights

It is important to be clear that your rights under the act are separate to any general common law claims or remedies you may have e.g. for breach of contract. A trader may also offer contractually enhanced rights to you over and above the act, but they can never offer you less.

Cooling off

If you are buying goods online, the act does not affect your usual 14-day cooling-off rights. This right comes from The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013:

  • If you buy goods at a distance, you get 14 days to cancel from the day you receive your goods
  • If you buy a service at a distance, you get 14 days from when you enter into the contract (this does not necessarily mean a written signed contract)
  • If you download digital content within the normal 14-day cancellation period, you will need to waive your cancellation rights.

There are some goods that are exempt from this, including but not limited to, personalised bespoke goods, goods with a short shelf life, sealed goods which are not suitable for return due to health protection or hygiene reasons, if they become unsealed after delivery etc.

Whilst it is important to understand your legal rights this Christmas, beware of scams and remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it often is! At Stephensons we have a team of consumer dispute resolution experts, call us on  0161 696 6178 to find out how our team can assist you.