Digital purchases now protected in new UK consumer rights law

New laws in the UK now offer consumers protections against faulty digital goods and services but they may not go as far as many would hope.

Starting today, if a user finds an app, music or any other digital download or stream is faulty, they will be entitled to a replacement, repair or partial refund. Whereas if a product is physically bought, consumers additionally have the right to a full refund within 30-days of purchase. Despite this setback, the new laws are a welcome change from the old laws which had no explicit protections for digital purchases.

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Perhaps the biggest improvement to the laws are how faults for all purchases are defined. UK buyers have the right for their purchases to be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. Each of these rights are designed to offer consumers more confidence that the product or service they are buying, acts they way they expected it to perform.

Richard Lloyd of the digital consumer group 'Which?' agrees that the new laws offer consumers more clarity:

"Consumer law was crying out to be brought up to date to cope with the requirements and demands of today’s shoppers. Getting a refund or repair, dealing with issues with faulty digital downloads and understanding contracts should now all be much simpler."

The Act also allows U.S.-style class action lawsuits in the UK for the first time – including opt-out actions where individuals are automatically members of a 'class'. However the courts aren't expected to be filled with new cases. The class-action lawsuits must initially be considered by the Competition Appeal Tribunal which will first decide whether a new large-scale claim has merit.

You can read the specific laws regarding digital purchase protections, found in Chapter 3 of the UK Consumer Rights Act.

Source: UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills via BBC (1) (2) & The Guardian | Flag image via The Next Women

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