Consumers given new rights and more time to return goods

Draft legislation will give customers 90 days to cancel a contract and receive a refund if they have been misled
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Consumers are being given more rights against rogue traders, online retailers and service providers thanks to new draft legislation from the UK Government.

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson has outlined how the Consumer Rights Directive will be implemented, which will increase the time limit for returning goods purchased online or by phone from seven days to 14 days (after the goods have been received, should the consumer change their mind).

Pre-ticked boxes for extras the consumer may not want or need, and could result in an unexpected payment, will be banned. 

The directive will also ensure key information is given to consumers by traders before agreeing to purchase, such as additional costs or cancellation rights.

The Consumer Protection Regulations from Unfair Trading Regulations will also be amended, meaning consumers will have 90 days to cancel a contract and receive a refund if they have been misled or bullied into agreeing it. 

Consumers will also get new rights to recover payments made to traders who mislead or bully them into paying money which was not owed, as well as new rights to claim compensation for distress caused by these practices.

The changes are being made partly to help the vulnerable and elderly, especially from misleading door step sales techniques.

Consumer Minister Jo Swinson said: “For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse for vulnerable consumers who are misled into buying something they neither need nor want.

“We want consumers to be confident to shop with a range of traders and to drive rogues out of business. The new rights announced will mean consumers are entitled to the same level of protection whether they are purchasing goods or services online, at home or in a shop.”

Martin Lewis, creator of MoneySavingExpert.com, added: "This is an important shift of emphasis from the rather arduous and resource-heavy prosecuting of rogue behaviour, towards rights for the individual. Individuals will gain more rights of redress and it’ll be easier for them to change their minds if something fails to live up to the spiel.

“In itself, this strengthens the deterrent for companies which target the vulnerable. The important part will be ensuring the system makes it relatively easy for people to enforce the rules – or only the financially-literate and confident will gain.”

Tom Ironside, British Retail Consortium Director of Business & Regulation, also supported the new consumer rights.

Image source: Shutterstock - people in consumer electronics retail store

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