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RetailKnowing your rights as a UK consumer

Knowing your rights as a UK consumer

Online shopping and contactless payments have made spending on the go really easy. Not that it’s possible to make purchases at the click of a button or the swipe of your phone, understanding your rights as a UK consumer is essential.

Whether you’re shopping instore or online, you need to know how you’re protected in case things don’t go as you’d expect.

Your consumer rights

As a UK consumer, you have fundamental rights that safeguard your interests. One of the most important rights is the right to a refund, replacement, or repair for faulty goods. When you purchase a product, it should be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. If it falls short of these standards, you have the right to request a refund, replacement, or repair.

Understanding warranties, guarantees, and implied terms is also important.

  • A warranty is a promise made by the manufacturer or seller about the quality or performance of a product.
  • A guarantee is an additional commitment to fix defects within a specified period.
  • Implied terms are legal obligations that automatically apply to every contract for goods and services, ensuring that they meet minimum standards. For example, if you buy a new smartphone and it stops working within a reasonable timeframe, you can request a repair or replacement. If you book a hotel room online and it doesn’t match the description, you can seek a refund.

These rights are in place to protect consumers from being stuck with sub-par products or services.

However, while you can make a request for a refund, you don’t have an automatic right to one. If you bought the item in a shop, you would need to check the retailer’s policy.

If you bought it online, the rules are slightly different. For example, you have the right to cancel your order within 14 days, according to the Consumer Contracts Regulations. This is because when buying online, it’s reasonable to presume that some customers may receive goods that aren’t what you were expecting.

Addressing unfair treatment

When you feel you’ve suffered unfair treatment as a consumer, there are various avenues to explore. Start by making a complaint to the seller or service provider. They may offer a resolution, such as a refund or a replacement. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you can turn to consumer protection agencies, such as Citizens Advice, which can provide guidance and help with disputes.

Additionally, ombudsman services are available for specific industries, such as energy, finance, and telecommunications. They act as independent bodies to investigate and resolve consumer complaints. In more complex cases, the small claims court can be an option for seeking compensation or resolving disputes.

Protections offered by credit cards

Credit cards can provide an extra layer of protection for consumers through section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. This provision holds the credit card company jointly liable with the seller or service provider in case of a breach of contract or misrepresentation. This means that if you make a purchase between £100 and £30,000 with your credit card, and the product is faulty or the service isn’t as promised, you can potentially claim a refund from your credit card provider.

When to use a credit card

Using a credit card can be useful in various situations. For high-value purchases like electronics or appliances, the added protection of Section 75 could be a valuable safety net. According to Section 75, you can put your claim to the credit card company if you’re having difficulty getting your money back from the retailer. You can’t recover your losses from both, but this is a particularly useful protection if the business you bought from has ceased trading.

Similarly, when booking flights or accommodation for a holiday, credit cards offer protection if the company goes bankrupt or the services aren’t provided as agreed.

However, it’s essential to use credit cards responsibly. Avoid accumulating excessive debt and always make at least the minimum monthly payments. Understanding your credit card terms and conditions is vital to ensure you can enjoy the benefits without falling into financial trouble.

Being a well-informed consumer is the first step towards protecting your rights and interests when purchasing goods in the UK.


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