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Friday 27th November marks the return of Black Friday to our high streets, retail establishments and smart phone screens. The recent American craze has hit our shores in the last five years and has grown at a rapid rate since.

Last year, scrambling shoppers spent a phenomenal £810m just online. Today it’s thought that the total spend both online and in-shops will reach around £2bn – which equates to over £1.3m being spent every minute for the whole day! Many people watch out for this day as one to grab a bargain just before Christmas; for this reason the popularity of Black Friday’s popularity has expanded.

Smart consumers, however, should take note. It will be the first Black Friday since the major overhaul of the Consumer Rights Act (CRA), which came into effect on the 1st October. It’s considered the biggest change in a generation, so it’s important to know what’s included before you spend your cash.

What’s new with the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

The changes to the CRA have streamlined complicated consumer law, in effect rearranging eight pieces of legislation into one. The bonus for those hitting the shops on Black Friday is that it is now much easier for consumers to understand their rights and also question bad practice.

With a more simplified body of consumer law standing alongside regulations, the hope is that both sides of the coin will be more confident: the consumers with cash to spend and the business that sell the products or offer the service.

The Rights around Digital Content

Many of the changes are updates of previous laws, but for the first time, the CRA will include reference to digital content, bringing consumer law finally into the 21st century. As a result of the changes, consumers are going to have more rights, especially when it comes to these digital products, such as e-books and games, which has been a grey area since the inception of the digital revolution.

E-commerce transactions are thriving in the UK and are showing no sign of slowing down. In 2016, it is expected that Britons will spend £60 billion online, therefore knowing your rights is incredible important.

The updated rights will help to avoid disagreements between consumers and businesses by making the rules more user friendly around what to do in certain circumstances, such as what should happen if a service doesn’t match up to what has been agreed. It will also make settling disputes easier to handle rather than going through an extremely expensive court procedure.

The government hopes that well-informed, confident consumers will be willing to spend more money, in turn driving continued growth and building a healthier economy.

The important changes:

  • A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. Previously, the law was unclear on how long this period should last.
  • New rights for consumers to get a repair or replacement when digital content is faulty, even when you bought the product more than 30 days ago. This will cover online films, games, music downloads and e-books. If it still doesn’t work after a repair or replacement, you will be able to ask for a refund.
  • Giving consumers a clear right to demand that services that fall short of what was agreed are redone or failing that receive a reduction in price. For example, you’ve booked a relaxing Spa day and there is a noticeable lack of care and skill during the treatments, you can ask for the service to be carried out again or a discount.
  • The ability to challenge terms and conditions which are unfair or hidden in the small print.

Word of caution if you’re buying second hand private goods on eBay: your rights are not as strong. The item must be correctly described, but if the seller says very little about the item and you buy it, then you haven’t been mis-sold and haven’t got much room to manoeuvre.

Upshot for businesses

The CRA will have a large impact on the business sector, specifically businesses who deal with consumers. If your business does deal with consumers, you should be making sure you are compliant with the new CRA rules and regulations so you don’t get yourself caught out. It will also be vital to educate your staff about the changes the CRA, if you haven’t done so already, so they can implement the correct procedures.

It will be important for you to think about reviewing your processes and documentation, such as:

  • Cancellation and returns policy
  • Sales processes
  • Buyer terms and conditions
  • Marketing materials & website and app terms
  • Telephone scripts
  • Pre-contractual documentation

The new CRA 2015 greatly increases the rights of consumers and the powers of the small claims court. If you feel your consumer rights have been breached give the Gorvins specialist Dispute Resolution team a call today on 0161 930 5117.

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