Toughening up the rights of digital consumers

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For consumers the digital world has just got a little less risky.

The new Consumer Rights Act came into force on October 1 2015. In the main it is a consolidation of existing legislation, bringing together under one roof rights for consumers when buying goods and services which already exist elsewhere.

Gary Rycroft.

Gary Rycroft.

However, one significant reform is that, like many other aspects of our lives, the law has had to move with the digital times.

So the concepts of goods being “fit for purpose” and “of satisfactory quality” and “as described” previously set out in older legislation now apply under the new Act of Parliament to our virtual shopping habits, as well as in the real world.

Likewise, just as has long been the case in the non-virtual world, from now on when buying digital services consumers have a right to expect “reasonable care and skill”

Imagine you download a TV Series and pay for all the episodes but one is missing. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you would be entitled to a remedy being a repair or replacement to bring the digital content purchased in line with the description. The trader must offer one or the other.

Or maybe you buy an app for storing and organising photos which ends up deleting your pictures because it has a bug.

If you can evidence that the damage was caused by the app, the trader whom you bought the app from would have to either repair the damage or compensate you.

Remember your contract as a consumer is usually with the trader (often a shop) rather than the manufacturer of the goods. So as a consumer you may usually only claim against the trader.

The trader may then claim against their supplier, but that is not necessarily your concern.

It is good news for consumers that, from October 1, they will have more rights. But as someone offering legal services in the real world, as opposed to the virtual one, I hope some consumers retain their desire to transact certain kinds of business face-to-face because I certainly prefer seeing my clients in real life rather than digitally.