Streamlining the Consumer Rights Bill

Online retailers will need to get to grips with the new Consumer rights Bill…

Draft Consumer Rights BillThe Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has this week announced the new draft Consumer Rights Bill.

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson unveiled the proposals which apparently streamline eight separate pieces of overlapping legislation into just one consumer Bill.

The new draft Bill enhances consumer rights and makes them easier to understand.

But this is not just good news for consumers, there is a business benefit too. According to figures published by the government consumers spend some 59 million hours every year dealing with issues around problematic goods & services. The new Consumer Rights Bill aims to save time for both consumers and businesses – both groups have been consulted and represented in the run-up to this bill.

The new rights, billed as a "simple, modern framework", revolve around the core values that:

  • consumers have the right to get what they pay for
  • goods and services (including "digital content") are fit for purpose and that services are provided with "reasonable care and skill"
  • faults are dealt with by free-of-charge replacements, refunds or reduced price

The Bill proposes a 30 day window in which consumers can get a full refund for faulty goods.

Speaking about the Draft Bill, Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said that the rules around buying goods and services had previously been "murky" especially in the digital realm;

“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.”

Not forgetting business, Swinson added:

“This will also benefit businesses as they are going to spend less time working out their legal obligations when they get complaints from customers.”

In addition to simplified rights for consumers, businesses will also benefit from a new requirement for enforcers such as Trading Standards Officers to give reasonable notice when inspecting businesses.

Businesses who have been at a disadvantage from breaches in competition law will also benefit from swifter and lower costs solutions and then there is the wider benefit that businesses will need to spend less time and money training staff to understand a better streamlined legislation.

For the full details see the complete Draft Consumer Rights Bill

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