Consumer Rights Act – Confusion Over Rejection

Thursday, 1. June 2017

Hi, Graham Hill here, thank you so much for visiting my blog, I hope you learn a lot and as a result end up driving a great car. In order to do so you can get all the information you need by buying my book, An Insider Guide To Car Finance or use me to finance your next car. Happy driving.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) has issued a notice regarding rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 vs Distance Selling Regulations. Consumers taking cars on finance are confusing the two and looking to reject the car they have just taken delivery of simply because they don’t like it. The distance selling rules allow you 14 days from receipt to reject anything you haven’t seen i.e. goods you have ordered on line.

 

You don’t need a reason to reject, you can simply return and get your money back. In the case of the Consumer Rights Act you have 30 days to reject the goods, i.e. a new or used car in our case, but there must be a problem. It must have something more than a minor fault, be not as described or not be fit for purpose for a rejection under the Consumer Rights Act.

 

You can still allow the dealer to put right the fault but it is your decision and if he doesn’t repair the fault you can still reject the car at a later date. But you can’t simply return the car because you don’t like the shape any more or you’ve gone off the interior colour. It seems that the FOS are receiving complaints from consumers because the dealer won’t take the car back because confused consumers think they can reject the car for no reason as they can under distance selling rules.

 

Having said that there are far too many dealers refusing to accept car rejections for absolutely genuine reasons as they will lose money as a result. Many feel the law isn’t working and I have proof that it isn’t from disgruntled customers – not mine I hasten to add. So it’s a good reason to make sure you have a professional independent broker working on your behalf when buying or leasing a new car in particular. That’s my plug over! By Graham Hill

Consumer Rights Act & Related Rights

Tuesday, 26. July 2016

I have read on many lawyer’s web sites that following the biggest change to the all inclusive Consumer Rights Act 2015, the ability to return goods that do not conform to the conditions laid down in the new Act, that consumers have confused this with the terms of the Distance Selling Act.

The new Consumer Rights Act replaces many old acts such as the Sale of Goods Act (last revision 2006) Unfair Terms In Consumer Regulations and the Supply of Goods & Services Act along with other minor acts. But not totally as I will explain in a moment.

In the new act you have 30 days, during which, if the goods are, in simple terms, Faulty, Not As Described or Unfit For Purpose you can claim a refund. You don’t have to give the seller the opportunity to repair the item and you certainly don’t need to go to court to claim your money back.

A word with your local Trading Standards Office or Citizen’s Advice Bureau should do the trick. If you choose the Court route you will probably be offered the free Small Claims Court Mediation Service once the other party has filed a defence. Well worth considering.

 

First let me deal with the confusion. You have 30 days to return goods or claim on services that do not meet the conditions of the Consumer Rights Act and claim your money back. Not to be confused with the 14 days you have under the Distance Selling Act when you buy goods or services that you haven’t been able to inspect before paying for them.

In this case you have the right to return goods to the seller within 14 days and claim your money back simply because you don’t like the colour or design of the goods whereas items returned under the Consumer Rights Act must be faulty, not as described or not fit for purpose.

But cases have been going to small claims courts citing the Consumer Rights Act when the consumer didn’t have a leg to stand on because he simply didn’t want the goods after getting them home. So don’t be confused, you can’t return goods under the Consumer Rights Act just because you changed your mind.

 

30 Day, 6 Month & 6 Year Rules: The 30 day rule is the period during which you can simply ask for your money back if the goods or service don’t conform to the Consumer Rights Act. You can allow the seller to repair or replace the goods but if you allow for a repair and it doesn’t fix the fault you still have the right to claim your money back.

And the onus is not on you to prove that the goods or service are in breach of the Consumer Rights Act it is down to the supplier to prove that they aren’t. This brings me to the 6 month rule. You must allow the supplier to remedy the fault with a repair or replacement after 30 days but within 6 months.

Again, you don’t have to prove that the fault existed when you bought the goods the supplier must prove that it didn’t. After 6 months but up to 6 years you can still exercise your rights if the Consumer Rights Act has been breached but after 6 months the onus is on you to prove that the fault existed.

 

Car Warranty: I think that it is worth mentioning at this point your legal position when it comes to a faulty car and its manufacturer’s warranty. Apologies if you have read this before as it is something that I bang on about quite regularly. Most new cars come with a transferable 3 year warranty, some more but most with 3 years.

Whenever you read a complaint in the National press, specialist motoring press or popular blogs about a car fault the warranty is considered to be the ultimate redress when things go wrong. It isn’t, it is there to add to the customers’ legal protection but just because the warranty ends on the car it doesn’t mean that the car falls off a cliff and every part on the car is expected to fail.

Outside of fair wear and tear I would expect most components on a car to last at least 8 years of average mileage provided the car has been properly serviced. The ultimate redress is not the warranty, it is legislation, in this case the Consumer Rights Act.

So when a major item such as a gearbox goes faulty after 3 years and 1 month and the manufacturer refuses to accept liability as you are now outside the warranty revert to your rights within the Consumer Rights Act and take the dealer and the manufacturer to court.

 

What is a Consumer?: The Consumer Credit Act 2006 defines an individual to include a sole trader, small partnership (3 partners or less) or an unincorporated association. As I understand it (and I have read conflicting information) the Consumer Rights Act defines a consumer as  “an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession”.

Not sure how you would determine how much of the use of a laptop computer is for business and how much for personal use. But I have seen suggestions that the ‘spirit’ of the CRA should also apply to SME’s so whilst they may not have the same statutory right of rejection within the first 30 days a court may use as a test of reasonableness the terms laid down in the CRA. The situation is made even more unclear by the scope of control exercised by the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

The FOS deals with complaints from consumers relating to Finance and Insurance Products with consumers being defined as above by the Consumer Credit Act. Now the CCA completely ignores ‘Unincorporated Associations’, i.e. Limited Companies but if you go onto the FOS website you will see that they also offer their services to Micro Enterprises as defined by the EU, which is a business that employs less than 10 people and a turnover or balance sheet net worth of less than 2 million Euros. And of course this can apply to limited companies So where is the consistency?

 

Financial Ombudsman Service: The little understood fact is that the FOS acts outside the law. It will use the law as its basis for coming to a ruling, which is legally binding on both sides, but the Ombudsman will consider such common sense things such as ‘was the customer treated fairly?’

The FOS can make an emotional decision compared to a judge who must base his decision on the letter of the law so I always recommend that you consider the FOS before court action. And bear in mind you don’t have to accept the FOS ruling, you can still exercise your right to go to court. And whilst you may run a Micro Enterprise and your complaint would normally fall outside the CCA you can still make your complaint to the FOS and you will be listened to.

By Graham Hill

Consumer Protection When Garages Don’t Fix Faults First Time

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Years ago, when I always bought used cars, and had a mechanical problem I used to dread going into a garage and explaining the fault because I knew I would be met by a sharp intake of breath by the mechanic and ‘Do you want me to do a quick bodge job or do you want me to sort it out properly?’ After which he would explain the problem in technical Read more

Government To Introduce New Sales Guidlines To Car Dealers

Friday, 12. February 2010

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