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Consumer Law Q&A: Goods Purchased In-store

The first instalment of our Consumer Law Q&A series looks at common queries surrounding consumer rights and remedies relevant to goods purchased in store, following the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA”).

What does “goods” mean?
“Goods” is widely defined in the CRA and includes most tangible, moveable items including “created goods” such as a bespoke suit.

Who is a “consumer”?
An individual acting for purposes which are wholly or mainly outside of that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession. 

Who is a “trader”?
A person acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person.

Do consumers have a right to return goods purchased in-store which are fault free?
No. In such circumstances a trader has discretion to accept the goods for a return or refund, subject to any pre-agreed terms and conditions such as the store returns policy or the terms and conditions detailed on the till receipt.

What about where there are defects or faults with the goods?
Where a defect is notified to the trader within 30 days from the date of purchase, the consumer has a right to reject the goods and obtain a refund. If the customer will not return the goods to the store in person, the trader is obliged to pay for the goods to be posted back to the store, or for the goods to be collected from the customer.

Does the consumer have to prove the goods were faulty at the date of purchase?
Not in the first 6 months following purchase as there is a presumption that the defect was present at the date of purchase. After 6 months, the onus of proof shifts and the consumer will now have to prove the goods were defective at the time they were purchased.

What if the consumer does not want a refund?
If the consumer does not want to reject the goods and obtain a refund, they can request to have the goods repaired or replaced instead. The trader will be provided a reasonable time frame to repair or replace the goods.  What is reasonable will vary from product to product. If the problem is not fixed, repair/replacement is not possible or another fault appears in the goods, the consumer has a further right to reject the goods and claim a refund. Alternatively, the customer can keep the goods and obtain a price reduction of an appropriate amount, which could be up to the full amount depending on the circumstances.

What happens after 30 days from the date of purchase?
If a consumer notifies a trader of a defect between 30 days and 6 years from the date of purchase, the consumer will no longer be entitled to immediately reject the goods, but will still have a right to request the goods are repaired or replaced. If the problem is not fixed, repair/replacement is not possible or another fault appears, the consumer has a right to reject the goods and obtain a refund or keep the goods with a price reduction.

Can refunds be reduced due to use of the goods?
No reduction in refund can be made for use within the first six months of purchase. If a refund is given after 6 months from the date of purchase, the trader can reduce the refund to take into account the use of the goods by the consumer in this time period based on the circumstances and use of the goods since the date of purchase.

Annabelle Harrison, Associate
Nicola Broadhurst, Partner

If you require further advice on how the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will impact on your business, please contact Annabelle Harrison, Nicola Broadhurst or another member of the Stevens & Bolton consumer team.

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