New laws which came into force yesterday have given consumers better recompense if they buy shoddy goods.
Under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 Act, consumers demanding compensation for faulty goods will no longer have to prove the items were faulty at the time of purchase, as was previously the case.
The new legislation states that, within six months of purchase, any fault that arises will be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery. This shifts the burden of proof to the retailer in any dispute.
In addition, any guarantees offered by the manufacturer or retailer will be legally binding, and must be written in plain language with clear details on how to make a claim.
Consumers will also have the right to request a repair or replacement if goods are faulty. Although this is the usual compensation offered by companies, it has not until now been enshrined in law.
Because the legislation is part of a European Union (EU) directive, UK shoppers can be confident of similar protection in other EU countries. Previously the level of protection would have depended on the strength of the consumer protection laws of the country concerned.
Melanie Johnson, minister for Competition, Consumers and Markets, said in a statement: "UK consumer protection legislation already leads the field in Europe. These new rules will strengthen our laws and offer further protection for shoppers if a product they buy is faulty.
"The changes coming into force today will also ensure that consumers have the confidence to shop across borders in Europe knowing they will be protected. It will set a minimum baseline for consumers' rights across European Member States."
The Regulations are available to view here.
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