Consumer Rights Act 2015
The Customer Care Scheme is seeing a big increase in the number of clients coming back after a long period claiming that their aids are not fit for purpose having just had NHS aids fitted. This new legislation will, we are sure, add to this type of complaint so it is extremely important that you take steps to provide evidence that aids supplied were fit for purpose in case clients say otherwise. We cannot stress enough to RECORD outcomes and what you explain to clients!!
The overriding theme of The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (The Act) is fairness and transparency when a trader supplies consumer goods and or services under a contract (which can be oral or in writing). As a Society, we would support this wholeheartedly. It also gives the consumer a long period to claim that goods were not fit for purpose and defines more precisely their remedies.
The Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SGA) terms about quality of goods and services have largely been replaced with The Act and the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 have been entirely replaced by the Act. For contracts with businesses and other areas of sale of goods law, the Sale of Goods Act and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA) continue. This earlier legislation is still around but, has been amended to cover mainly business-to-business transactions in those areas such as quality of goods and unfairness of terms.
The purpose of this article is to make you aware of areas that may impact your business. It does not cover the entire scope of The Act, e.g. contracts for digital content.
The main areas that will affect you are:
- stronger remedies available to the consumer, for goods and service, i.e. refund, price reductions and possibly damages
- an even stronger presumption in favour of the consumer for anything that is ambiguous
- any oral representations will form part of the contract
- statutory rights on guarantees
- tightening up on unfair terms
- inclusion of details of your complaints procedure
inclusion of details if you are bound by a Code of Practice
1, Review your Terms & Conditions of Sale to check that they are clear and unambiguous – If they seem to be unfair they will be unenforceable (see unfair terms section especially with regard to retention of deposits/refunds). Onerous terms should be clearly stated and agreed in writing and ideally be on the front of the order (where the client signs)
2, Remove any restriction on a client not being able to get a refund within 30 days, if the goods are faulty
3, Include details of your complaints procedure and details of any Code of Practice that you are bound by
4, For sales in the home and off premises make sure there is a 14-day cancellation period for the contract, even if there is no fault with the goods and remember to leave a form/tear off slip with the client so they can cancel. For personalised goods, advise the client that they will not have the 14 day cancellation period and get them to sign that they have agreed to this
5, Include reference to your guarantee document or include the terms of the guarantee (see the guarantee section). If you want to rely on any onerous terms verbally draw these to the attention of the client as earlier as possible at the appointment and record that you have done so.
6, Advise your dispensers to be careful about oral statements, as they will form part of the contract.
7, Make sure your client records comprehensively cover all visits and note what you promise the client – if in doubt get the client to sign anything that is agreed, which is not on your standard T & Cs.
Get more in a downloadable PDF
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