The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came in to force on October 1, replacing existing consumer legislation including the Sale of Goods Act.
The shake-up marks the biggest change in consumer rights in almost 40 years, with consumer watchdogs concerned that many businesses will not be aware of the changes.
Middlesbrough Trading Standards chiefs are now urging local firms to implemented staff training to ensure they keep on the right side of the law.
The new Act outlines a clearer route for consumers to understand their rights and remedies when goods they have bought are faulty.
The legislation also provides redress over poor quality services and problems with digital content, with new provisions covering unfair terms in consumer contracts.
The most important changes come in respect of the clarification of the periods for repair, replacement and rejection of goods by consumers, with now having an entirely new ‘tiered’ system of remedies.
Within 30 days of purchase the consumer has a right to reject goods that are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose, not as described, not matching any sample or not in accordance with information provided before the contract was agreed.
After 30 days the seller then has one opportunity to repair or replace the goods, but if the repair or replacement is impossible, or the first attempt fails (or the replacement is also defective), the consumer then has a ‘final right to reject’ and get their money back or a price reduction.
Adam Hillier of Hillier Jewellers in Linthorpe Road said: “Ensuring our customers’ rights are protected is very important to us.
“Customers expect a good service when choosing their goods and after-sales care is just as important.
“This is why we fully support the introduction of better consumer rights laws.”
Jim McCluskey, Principal Trading Standards Officer at Middlesbrough Council, said: “These are very important changes for both consumers and businesses.
“We want to work with all traders in Middlesbrough to help them understand the new rules – Middlesbrough is an important shopping venue and knowing that businesses are following the new rules will increase consumer confidence in our retailers.”