Remedies & redress - overview of key consumer rights
- This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you important rights when you make a contract with a trader for the supply of goods, services and digital content. It sets out what you are entitled to expect from the goods, services and digital content and gives you clear remedies if they fail to meet your expectations - for example, in circumstances where the goods or digital content are faulty or the service is below standard.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights to redress if a trader misleads you or engages in an aggressive commercial practice and the Consumer Credit Act 1974 allows you to hold a finance provider as equally responsible as a trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation.
There are other laws that give you equally important rights and remedies.
This guide gives an overview of the rights and remedies available to you.
- the trader must have the 'right to supply' the goods to you. If they do not actually own them, they cannot sell them to you
- the goods must be of 'satisfactory quality.' The description, price, condition of the goods, fitness for purpose, appearance and finish, safety, durability and freedom from minor defects are all important factors when considering quality. Public statements, such as those in advertising or on labelling, made by the trader, the producer or their representative about the goods, must be accurate and can also be taken into account when deciding if it is of satisfactory quality
- if you make a trader aware that you want the goods to be 'fit for a particular purpose', even if it is something that they are not usually supplied for, then you have the right to expect they are fit for that purpose
- you have the right to expect that the goods are 'as described'
- if you see or examine a sample, then the goods must 'match the sample'
- if you see or examine a model, then the goods must 'match the model'
- short-term right to reject the goods. You have 30 days from the day after the goods were supplied to reject them for a full refund and/or the return of anything else transferred under the contract (for example, part-exchange goods)
- right to repair or replacement. If you decide not to reject the goods or if the 30-day time limit has passed, you can ask the trader to repair or replace them at their expense
- right to a price reduction or final right to reject. You do not have to give the trader more than one opportunity to replace the goods if they are faulty. If the repairs or replacement are unsuccessful, are impossible, too expensive or cannot be carried out within a reasonable time and without causing you significant inconvenience, you can ask for a price reduction (you choose to keep the goods and ask the trader to give you a reduction in the price) or claim your final right to reject (you reject the goods for a refund but, depending on circumstances, a deduction for use may apply)
See the guide 'Sale & supply of goods: your consumer rights' for more information.
- as with goods, a trader must have the 'right to supply' the digital content to you
- you have the right to expect that the digital content is of 'satisfactory quality'. This means that it meets a standard that a reasonable person would consider satisfactory, taking account of any description applied, the price (if relevant) and all other relevant circumstances. The state and condition of the digital content, its fitness for purpose, safety, durability and freedom from minor defects are all important factors when considering its quality. Public statements, such as those in advertising or on labelling, made by the trader, the producer or their representative about the digital content, must be accurate and can also be taken into account when deciding if it is of satisfactory quality
- if you make a trader aware that you want digital content to be fit for a 'particular purpose', even if it is something that it is not usually supplied for, then you have the right to expect that it is fit for that purpose
- you have the right to expect that the digital content is as 'described'. Even if you examine a trial version and find that the actual digital content matches or is better than the trial version, it still has to match any description given to you by the trader
- 'supply by transmission and facilities for continued transmission'. The trader is responsible to you for the quality, fitness for a particular purpose and description of the digital content throughout the transmission process to the time it reaches your device, either directly or via any other trader you have a contract with - for example, an internet service provider
- 'quality, fitness and description of digital content must still apply if a trader modifies it' - for example, by providing updates
- if the digital content does not 'conform to the contract' (which means is not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose or as described) then you are entitled to a repair or replacement
- if repair or replacement of the digital content is not possible or cannot be carried out within a reasonable time or without causing you significant inconvenience, then you are entitled to a reduction in the price. This can be as much as a full refund - for example, if you have had no benefit from the digital content
- you are entitled to a full refund if the trader does not have the legal right to supply the digital content to you. However, if the trader had the right to supply some but not all of the digital content, then you will only be entitled to a refund for the part that they did not have the right to supply
The 'Supply of digital content: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
- the service must be carried out with 'reasonable care and skill'. This means a trader must carry out the work to the same or similar standard to that which is considered acceptable within their trade or profession
- 'information about the trader or service is legally binding'. This means that anything said or written down by a trader (or someone acting on their behalf) about the trader or the service forms part of the contract, if you take the information into consideration before you agree the contract or if you make a decision about the service after the contract is made
- 'reasonable price to be paid for a service'. You are only required to pay a 'reasonable price' for the service that a trader provides unless the price of the service (or the way in which the price is worked out) is fixed as part of the contract
- 'the service must be carried out within a reasonable time'. Sometimes a contract will fix the time that a service must be completed by. If the time has not been fixed, then the service must be completed 'within a reasonable time'. What is reasonable usually depends on the facts of the contract
- right to repeat performance. Where a service is not carried out with reasonable care and skill or where a trader fails to provide a service in line with information they gave you beforehand, then they must perform the service again so that it 'conforms with the contract' (is completed as the contract states it should be). You are entitled to have this repeat performance carried out within a reasonable time, without significant inconvenience and at no cost to you
- right to a price reduction. If repeat performance of a service is impossible or it cannot be carried out within a reasonable time or without causing you significant inconvenience, then you are entitled to a price reduction. This can be as much as a full refund - for example, where you have had no benefit from the service and it will need to be started again. You are also entitled to a price reduction if the service is not carried out within a reasonable time and where the trader is in breach of their obligations relating to information they gave you that is deemed to be part of the contract
See 'Supply of services: your consumer rights' for more information.
Rights to redress: what can I claim?
If you enter a contract because a trader misled you (for example, they claimed goods on sale were antique and they were not) or because they used an aggressive commercial practice (such as pressurizing you into entering a contract) the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights to redress: the right to unwind the contract, the right to a discount and the right to damages. These rights are in addition to the rights you have under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The 'Misleading & aggressive practices: rights to redress' guide gives more information.
On-premises / off-premises / distance sales: what am I entitled to?
When a trader sells goods, services and digital content:
- from their business premises (on-premises contracts)
- away from their business premises, such as on your doorstep, in your home or at your place of work (off-premises contracts)
- without face-to face contact with you (distance contracts)
... they must comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
What if you decide to cancel the contract? You have the right to cancel most distance and off-premises contracts and the cancellation period is 14 days. The right to cancel does not apply to on-premises contracts. Traders must give you certain information before they make a contract with you. They must get your clear agreement if they want to charge you for 'extras'.
There are clear rules on delivery and the point at which you become responsible for the goods. If the trader sends you 'unsolicited' goods (goods that you have not ordered) you can keep them and you do not have to pay for them.
If the trader provides a telephone helpline for you to contact them about the goods you have bought, it cannot be charged at more than the basic rate.
The 'Buying from business premises: on-premises contracts explained', 'Buying at home: off-premises contracts explained' and 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order: distance contracts explained' guides give more information and explain which contracts are not covered by the Regulations and when the right to cancel does not apply.
What remedies do I have if I pay on finance or with a credit / debit card?
If you paid for the goods, service or digital content on finance arranged by a trader or if you paid using your credit card and they cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you have rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Section 75 of the Act makes the finance / card provider as responsible as the trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation - for example, supplying faulty goods or making a misleading claim about a service. You are entitled to take action against the trader, the finance / card provider or both.
If the cost exceeds £30,000 and is less than £60,260, and the finance was arranged specifically to buy the goods, service or digital content, you may be able to claim against the finance company under section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
If you are unhappy with the finance provider's response, seek the advice of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If you use a debit card to make the purchase or if you use a credit card and the price of the goods, service or digital content is less than £100 (your rights under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 would not apply), you may be able to take advantage of the chargeback scheme. Chargeback is the term used by card providers for reclaiming a card payment from the trader's bank. If you can evidence a breach of contract (for example, the goods supplied are faulty) you can ask your card provider to attempt to recover the payment. Check with your card provider as to how the scheme rules apply to your card, whether internet transactions are covered and what the time limit is for making a claim.
Under the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which were amended by the Payment Services Regulations 2017, traders are banned from imposing surcharges on consumers for using the following payment methods:
- credit, debit or charge cards
- e-payment services such as PayPal
- Apple Pay, Android Pay or other similar payment methods
Traders can impose a surcharge for other methods of payment, but the amount must not be excessive; it must reflect the actual cost to the trader of processing the payment. The Regulations apply to most sales and service contracts.
The Regulations give you rights to redress. Any requirement to pay a banned surcharge, or the part of a surcharge that is excessive, is unenforceable by the trader. This means you do not have to pay. If you have already paid the surcharge or the excess, you are entitled to a refund.
If you have a complaint about surcharges, report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service.
How long do my consumer rights last for?
In England and Wales you have a limit of six years from the date of the breach of contract (for example, the supply of faulty goods or digital content, or a poor service) in which to make a claim against the trader. This works a little differently in Scotland where you have a limit of five years to make a claim, starting from the time you became aware there was a problem.
This does not mean that the goods, digital content or service has to last the five or six years; it depends on what is reasonable.
Do I have any remedies under a guarantee or warranty?
Yes, but there are rules, set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, that apply when a trader or a manufacturer offers a free guarantee with goods, services and digital content.
So, what is a guarantee? This is a statement given by a trader or a manufacturer that the goods, services or digital content will meet certain standards and if they do not, you will be entitled to claim a refund, replacement or repair. There is no obligation on a trader or a manufacturer to offer a guarantee but if they do so, it is legally binding. For example, if a trader refuses to repair the goods when the guarantee states that they will, the trader will be in breach of contract and you can make a claim. This might be for the cost of getting the goods repaired elsewhere.
A warranty (or extended warranty) is a form of insurance policy, which provides cover for the unexpected failure or breakdown of goods, usually after the trader or manufacturer's guarantee has run out, but it can cover the same time period as a guarantee because it may offer additional cover. Check the terms and conditions to find out what you are covered for.
A guarantee or warranty is additional to the legal rights you have as a consumer and must not affect those rights in any way.
The 'Guarantees & warranties' guide gives more information on these rules.
The trader is refusing to help me: what should I do?
If the trader refuses to deal with your complaint or tells you to contact the manufacturer, distributor or importer, you should inform them that they are responsible and that you are entitled to expect that they deal with your complaint and arrange a suitable remedy. In some instances, the trader may wish to consult with their supplier, especially if the nature of the fault is in dispute, but this does not affect your claim against the trader.
See the guide 'Is the trader right?' for more information.
- Key legislation
- Consumer Credit Act 1974
- Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
- Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
- Consumer Rights Act 2015
- Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012
Last reviewed / updated: October 2019
- Please note
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab.
For further information in England and Wales contact the Citizens Advice consumer service on 0808 2231133. In Scotland contact Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000. Both provide free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues.
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