Home Personal Consumer Law Consumer Rights Act 2015: How to Claim a Refund

Consumer Rights Act 2015: How to Claim a Refund

Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, should you purchase an item or service that is faulty, you may be eligible for a refund.

To be considered faulty, your purchase has to meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • It isn’t of a satisfactory quality.
  • It isn’t fit for purpose.
  • It isn’t as described.

There are normally three routes of remedy available: refund, repair or replacement.

Eligibility to receive a refund is time-reliant in certain circumstances, and in others would require that you attempt to take the repair or replacement options first.

Who should you contact about a refund?

Your request for a refund for a faulty purchase should always be made to the retailer or service provider. Neither the manufacturer or the delivery service is liable. The complete responsibility lies with the retailer or service provider.

The first 30 days

According to the Consumer Rights Act, you may legally reject a faulty item within the first 30 days of ownership (starting on the date when you receive the item) and receive a full refund.

This does not apply to items purchased as downloads, games or apps, for instance.

Where you purchase perishable goods, such as milk or vegetables, the period of time where you have the right to reject and receive a full refund is limited to the shelf-life of the item.

After the 30 days, you will lose your right to claim a full refund for a faulty item.

Can you get a refund instead of a repair or replacement?

Once the first 30 days have passed, you can’t ask for a refund until you have given the retailer the opportunity to repair or replace the faulty item.

If this is unsuccessful, you may request a refund or a price reduction if you want to retain the item.
You have a right to a full or partial refund instead of a repair or replacement of the faulty item where one of the following applies:

  • the cost of making a repair or replacing the item is more than the value of the item itself
  • a repair or replacement is not possible
  • significant inconvenience would be caused by a repair or replacement
  • it would take an unreasonably long time to make a repair

You have the right to receive a refund up to 100% of the purchase price or to reject the item and receive a full refund where one of the following applies:

  • a repair or replacement is impossible
  • an attempt at repairing the item failed
  • the first replacement item is also faulty

When did you notice the fault?

If you notice that an item is faulty within the first 6 months of ownership, it is automatically assumed that the fault was present when the item was purchased.

Should the retailer query this, it is their responsibility to prove that the item wasn’t faulty when it was bought.

If repair or replacement does not happen, you have the right to receive a full refund and reject the item. In this situation, the retailer is not allowed to make any deductions from your refund.

The exception to this is where the item in question is a motor vehicle. In this instance, the retailer may reasonably reduce the refund amount to account for any use you have had of the vehicle after the first 30 days of ownership.

If you notice the fault after 6 months of ownership has passed, you must prove that the item was faulty when purchased. You must gather supporting evidence and possibly seek expert advice.

You may of course take your claim for a faulty item or service to a small claims court. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, there is a 6-year limit for making a claim. In Scotland, the time limit is 5 years.

Digital content

Under the Consumer Rights Act, digital content is defined as ‘data which are produced and supplied in digital form’.

Digital content is generally streamed or downloaded and includes films, books and games.

The same conditions apply in regard to whether an item is faulty:

  • It isn’t of a satisfactory quality.
  • It isn’t fit for purpose.
  • It isn’t as described.

As with most faulty goods under the Consumer Rights Act, you can’t ask for a refund until you have given the retailer the opportunity to repair or replace the faulty item first.

You have a right to a full or partial refund instead of a repair or replacement of the faulty item where one of the following is true:

  • the cost of making a repair or replacement is more than the value of the item itself
  • a repair or replacement is not possible
  • significant inconvenience would be caused by a repair or replacement
  • it would take an unreasonably long time to make a repair
  • an attempt at repair has been unsuccessful

You can also claim compensation for any device or digital content that has been damaged in the process of downloading or using the faulty digital content.

What if your order is delivered late or not delivered at all?

While the goods are in transit, even when in the hands of a delivery service, they are the responsibility of the retailer until you receive them.

A retailer is obligated to deliver your order of goods within 30 days, unless a longer delivery period has been previously agreed.

If you needed the goods by a particular date, and the delivery is later than that date, you have the right to cancel the order and receive a full refund.

Where your order doesn’t arrive within the 30 days and the delivery date offered is unreasonable, you have the right to cancel the order and receive a full refund.

Refund for the supply of a service

Where the faulty item is a service, such as dry cleaning or building work, you are still covered by the Consumer Rights Act, although it is the service contract that is governed by the Act.

Any service contracts are controlled by the following rules:

  • The services must be performed with ‘reasonable care and skill’.
  • Any information, whether spoken or written, that the consumer relies on, is binding.
  • The cost of the provision of the service must be ‘reasonable’, where the price is not agreed before.
  • The service must be carried out in a ‘reasonable’ time, unless agreed before.

If the service you received doesn’t meet the above rules, you have two options under the Consumer Rights Act.

The element of the service that is unsatisfactory or the whole service should be carried out again, at no cost to you, causing you limited inconvenience and within a ‘reasonable’ period of time.

Where this cannot happen, you can claim a price reduction. Depending on the severity of the faulty service, this could be up to 100% of the cost. The refund should be made to you within 14 days.

Refund through your credit card company

Under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you may be able to obtain a refund through your credit card company where you are having problems receiving a refund from the retailer.

Where you paid by credit card, your credit card company is jointly liable for any breach of contract by the retailer.

This is especially useful where the retailer or service provider have gone out of business or cannot be reached.

How legal advice can help

Take specialist legal advice to inform you fully of your consumer rights, prepare your refund claim and supporting evidence, and communicate with the retailer or service provider on your behalf.

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