From 1 October 2015, a new law called the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will give individual customers (“consumers”) buying goods or services from businesses in the UK (including online sales) will have far more rights than ever before. John Clement, a partner at Turbervilles Solicitors, warns why the fashion industry should be waking up to the changes and getting prepared now.
Never before have consumers in the UK had so many rights. When the law comes into effect the empowered consumer will have the right:
- to “get what they paid for”
- to reject faulty goods within 30 days of purchase;
- to have faults put right free of charge or to be provided with a replacement
- to a price reduction, or to reject the goods, if the faults have not been satisfactorily resolved within six months
Put simply, if you don’t prepare now you could be facing a loss of business and see a hike in customers demanding refunds, not to mention increased time spent in dealing with customer complaints if they feel their rights have been ignored. At the very worst, if a customer feels your business is not acting in line with the new law then you could be reported to Trading Standards who could take you to Court, which may result in your business having to pay compensation to the customer.
All matters you’d rather avoid.
Ahead of October, you would be wise to invest some time to minimize these risks.
First of all, make sure that you are providing an accurate description of the stock you are selling and that any accompanying visuals such as films or photographs could not be seen to be misrepresenting the goods. Make sure you review all of your sales and marketing literature, including your company website, social media tools, brochures and advertisements to avoid making any misleading statements;
Your sales and marketing staff should also be up to speed with the new changes in law so that anything they say to a consumer cannot be called into question, days, weeks or even months after a purchase. Consider holding a training morning in September, and make sure their elevator and sales pitches have the right messages.
Get your legal adviser to review your company’s terms and conditions to ensure they meet all the new requirement. As many lawyers will tell you ‘ the devil is in the detail’, so make sure you don’t fall at this hurdle.
You should also be transparent with the customer about any delivery charges, whether the sale takes place over the phone, face to face or online. The same goes for any cancellation rights and your complaints handling procedure.