Retailers are being urged to get up to speed with proposed new changes designed to enhance consumer rights.
The Government has published its draft consumer rights bill which is expected to pass into law early next year (2014).
Legal experts say now is the time for retailers to digest the changes so they are prepared when the proposals become law.
The draft bill proposes a set 30-day time period for when consumers can return faulty goods and get a full refund.
At present, consumers can reject goods as faulty within a ‘reasonable time’ and there has been uncertainty as to what is ‘reasonable’.
Once the right to reject the goods has ended, the draft bill provides for two tiers of remedies to consumers:
- Tier one – the right to a single repair or replacement of goods
- Tier two – the end of the contract between retailer and consumer or reduction in the price paid for goods.
“The proposed new changes are designed to make the rights and obligations of both retailers and consumers much clearer than they currently are.
“This can only be a good thing in helping all parties to resolve matters quickly and cost-effectively.
“Giving a fixed deadline for rejection of goods will allow retailers the certainty of knowing that a court cannot rule in favour of a consumer making a late attempt to reject goods.
“The simplification of the two tier approach to remedies after the rejection period is also helpful.
“Businesses need to be aware that they will only be entitled to one chance to repair or replace the goods under the tier one stage.
“If a consumer exercises the tier two right to rescind the contract within six months of receiving the goods, the business will struggle to make any deductions from the refund to take into account the consumer’s use of the goods.
“Although these changes are not expected to pass into law until early 2014, businesses should take note of the proposals at an early stage to ensure that they are prepared.”