New Consumer Rights Act
Introduced this month, furniture retailers should be aware of key changes to consumer law brought about by the new Consumer Rights Act.
Information has been supplied by The Furniture Ombudsman.
"This important piece of retail legislation will fundamentally affect the way that retailers must deal with their customers." said Judith Turner, Senior Ombudsman for The Furniture Ombudsman.
Judith continued: "Whilst most of the provisions relating to when a product breaches a contract, such as fitness for purpose and satisfactory quality, remain the same; there have been some subtle changes to language. The changes do have an impact on consumer's statutory rights in certain significant ways. The main changes that have an impact on the industry come in the remedies that are available to the consumer."
Early Right to Rejection If a fault is discovered within 30 days of receipt of the goods, the consumer may reject the goods and seek a full refund. This is a significant departure from the previous position whereby a product was accepted after an undefined reasonable period of time. If a fault is discovered within the rejection period the consumer can opt to have a repair or a replacement. If a consumer opts for having a repair or a replacement, the 30-day rejection period stops temporarily from when the fault is raised until the consumer has a satisfactory product. The consumer then has 7 days, or the remainder of the rejection period, to assess whether the repair has been successful. For example, a consumer receives a product and discovers a fault on day 10 of them having the product and selects to have a repair, the consumer's rejection period stops until the repair is carried out. The repair is carried out on day 15, a wait of 5 days; the consumer now has until the remainder of the rejection period to assess the success of the repair, this being 20 days. The consumer's rejection period would then end on day 35.One Shot If a fault is discovered after the rejection period the consumer has a right to a repair or a replacement. The consumer cannot require the retailer to carry out the remedy if it is not proportional or it is impossible. If a subsequent fault appears following either a repair or a replacement then the consumer can seek a full or partial refund depending on the length of time they have had the product. The retailer now only has one attempt after the rejection period to give the consumer a product that is both fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality after a fault has been discovered, before they can seek to cancel the contract. Therefore, the retailer will have to ascertain and be sure that any proposed repairs will be fit and lasting before they are carried out.
Unless it is agreed to the contrary, the goods must be delivered without undue delay or not more than 30 days after the date of the contract. The consumer can give a written delivery deadline after the estimated date has passed and if this is not met the consumer has the right to cancel.
Installation If the installation is defective the remedies are in line with those in goods contracts - repair, replacement and refund in full or part - however rectification is desirable.
The legal and Alternative Dispute Resolution experts at The Furniture Ombudsman can help retailers understand their obligations and how to comply with them. For more information, please visit www.thefurnitureombudsman.org.