Consumer Rights Act 2015
2nd June 2016
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In the same way that there are certain ‘rules’ when buying goods in-store, such as clothes, furniture, food etc., these ‘rules’ also apply when buying vehicles (be it new or used).

The Rules

Goods Purchased Must Be:

1.    'Satisfactory and as Described'

Now the latter part of this rule, “as described”, might sound pretty obvious. For example, a red car either is or isn't. But a car described as ‘brand new- straight from the factory’ must be exactly as stated. If you were to view the car after seeing this description and it turned out to be a 10 year old, second-hand car, then this would not be ‘as described’.

Satisfactory quality is harder to define. The law says "satisfactory" is what a reasonable person would be happy with, looking at all of the information easily available to you, such as its price and condition. For instance, when looking at a car that is 7-10 years old, you will expect it to maybe have a few scratches and a fair few miles on etc. which would be weighed up against the asking price, to determine if it is satisfactory.

In a legal context and in a dispute with a shop, this means vehicles must be in a state that you, or any other normal, reasonable person would think was reasonable. Certainly if you bought an expensive motorbike and the engine would not start, most people would almost certainly say it wasn't satisfactory.

Ultimately if you and the seller couldn't resolve it, you'd need to take it to court for a judge to decide.

2.    ‘Fit for purpose AND last a reasonable length of time’

This means the vehicle must work and not fall to bits after an hour's use. This might sound pretty basic common sense, but without it, you can find yourself exposed.

Say you buy a brand new car, and on the drive home it completely breaks down, then it isn’t 'fit for purpose', nor did it ‘last a reasonable length of time’ and so you can get your money back.


Get a full refund within 30 days

This is a nice new addition to our statutory rights. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 changed our right to reject something faulty, and be entitled to a full refund in most cases, from a reasonable time to a fixed period (in most cases) of 30 days. After that, you lose the short-term right to reject the goods and you'll have fewer rights, such as only being able to ask for a repair or replacement, or a full or partial refund if this doesn’t work.


Second-hand or 'on sale' doesn't mean second-rate

Even if the item's second-hand or reduced, it doesn't mean you get second-rate consumer rights, except where the seller pointed out the specific problems before you bought.

The same consumer rights rules apply to second-hand and sale goods from shops. They must be of satisfactory quality and, if they're faulty, you can return them.

If you buy a used motorbike from a trader or grab a 'sale' car with 30% off and it breaks once you get home, then you can take it back and complain.


The rules change with private sellers

If you're buying second-hand goods from a private seller (someone who doesn't sell goods for all or part of their living), your rights are nowhere near as strong as when buying from a shop.

The only protection is that it's correctly described and the owner has the right to sell it. Here, it really is a case of "buyer beware".

So if the seller says nothing, or little about the vehicle and you buy it anyway, then that's it. Even if it's faulty, you weren't mis-sold, so you essentially have no comeback. But; if they lie to you – you certainly do have a comeback.


Know who's responsible

Can you prove it? If a company dismissed you by saying “go to the maker instead”, it's wrong. It's the retailer's job to sort it.For instance, if you bought a car from a local dealership, and they told you to take it to the manufacturer, this would be incorrect. If something's broken, or faulty, the seller has a legal duty to put it right as your contract is with them.

What proof do you need? When vehicles are faulty, if you return them within six months, then it's up to the shop to prove they weren't faulty when you bought them. After this, the burden of proof shifts and it's up to you to prove they were faulty when you bought them.

And, what about Alternative Dispute Resolution?

Alternative Dispute Resolution ("ADR") refers to any means of settling disputes outside of the courtroom. ADR typically includes early neutral evaluation, negotiation, conciliation, mediation, and arbitration.

Alternative Dispute Resolution is now available to all businesses to help when a dispute with a consumer cannot be settled directly. Before the Consumer Rights Act became law, this service had only been available in certain sectors.

The simplest and most common form of ADR is direct negotiation, and this often leads to a solution.

Where direct negotiation does not resolve the dispute, a range of other options may be available. In broad terms, ADR can take two forms;

  • In some types of ADR, the process allows the parties to the dispute to decide their own outcome, often with the help of a neutral third party. This is typically the case for direct negotiation, conciliation and mediation
  • In other types of ADR, the outcome is decided by someone who is not a party to the dispute. This is what happens in adjudication, arbitration and ombudsman schemes


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