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New bill will help shoppers stand up for their rights

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A Yorkshire lawyer has advised shoppers not to accept faulty goods or shoddy service from retailers, following a major shake-up of consumer law.

Darren Morgan, of York-based Langleys Solicitors, said the Consumer Rights Act, which comes into force from October, will simplify the complicated consumer protection system, helping shoppers to activate their rights.

Business Secretary Vince Cable has called the Act “the biggest shake-up of consumer law for a generation.”

New rights for consumers will include:

  • A right to a repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as online movies, games and music downloads.
  • A clear right to demand that substandard services are redone or reduced in price.
  • A clear 30-day period for consumers to return faulty goods and obtain a full refund – up to now, this has been judged on what is considered a “reasonable time” and could be as few as three days.

This follows the creation of the Office of the Retail Ombudsman, which opened its doors on 1 January this year, with the aim of resolving disputes between shops and disappointed customers. It expects to handle 100,000 cases in its first year.

Darren said: “Consumer rights legislation is far too complex and has failed to keep up with the way that we buy products today, especially downloads, so these new developments are to be welcomed.

“Many people find the prospect of pursuing a claim through the courts unattractive, stressful and time-consuming. The new Bill, along with the Retail Ombudsman, will give them the support and confidence to confront poor standards and secure a settlement.”

Darren said small businesses could also be set to benefit. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has announced a consultation on whether micro and small businesses should have the same rights as consumers under the Consumer Rights Act. The consultation closes on 15 June 2015.

The free Retail Ombudsman service aims to resolve complaints in an even-handed way and has the power to order a retailer to pay compensation of up to £25,000 for proven financial loss.

If the retailer is a member of The Retail Ombudsman Scheme, they will be contractually obliged to follow the decision. If the retailer is not a member it will be at their discretion.

Darren Morgan, Langleys
Darren Morgan

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