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Consumer Rights Act comes into force

Shoppers have been given new rights when purchasing goods following the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 on 1 October.

The Act has been designed to reinforce shopper’s rights when it comes to obtaining refunds or replacements for substandard goods and services or unfair terms.

Under the Act, consumers now have 30 days to request a replacement or full refund for a faulty item, be it a physical or digital purchase, such as e-books, games, music or movies.

To assist consumers in a dispute, certified Alternative Dispute Resolution providers will now be available as a quicker and cheaper alternative to pursuing compensation through the courts.

However, for those who do opt to enter the courts, there is also the alternative of bringing a ‘class action’, making it far easier for groups of consumers to seek compensation from firms that have fixed prices.

Previously, groups of consumers or small and medium-sized businesses who wanted to take action against companies that fixed the price of goods or services had to either ‘opt in’ to the action or bring a claim in their own name, but the new rules allow them to ‘opt out’ meaning everyone affected is automatically a member of the ‘class’ which is suing.

Business Minister, Nick Boles said: "Whether it’s downloading music or buying a fridge freezer, the Consumer Rights Act makes it easier to understand your rights.

"These changes will also simplify the law for businesses so they can spend less time worrying about unclear and unwieldy regulations."

Figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show consumers experienced more than 18 million problems with goods and services in the 12 months to the middle of last year, costing them around £4.15 billion.

These new measure are predicted to boost the economy by £4 billion over the next decade by streamlining eight pieces of complicated legislation into one concise law.