5-minute guide to your new consumer rights

On October 1st, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force. It's the biggest overhaul of consumer law in several decades. Amongst other acts, this replaces the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

"Many of the rights stay the same but you will have some improved rights," says Helen Dewdney author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! Helen gives us some tips on using the Act for purchases and services.

1.  Items must be of satisfactory quality. This includes fit for purpose, free from any defects, safe, durable and of good quality appearance and finish. Goods must fit the description and be installed correctly where appropriate.

2. Items once had to be returned within a reasonable period of time. You now can reject the goods and get a full refund within 30 days. You can accept repair or replacement in this time too. Up to six months the onus is on the retailer to prove that the fault wasn't there at the point of purchase or otherwise provide redress. After six months you will need to prove that the fault was there at point of purchase and you have up to six years to claim if the item could reasonably be expected to last this length of time.

3.This new Act now covers digital content. As well as the physically touchable format, downloads, online movies, e-books, games and music downloads are now covered. If it is faulty your rights are the same as other goods. Digital content in physical form such as DVDs is subject to the 30-day rule but downloads are not. For example, if you download an e-book that doesn’t work a repair or replacement has to be tried first and if this doesn’t work a partial or full refund. There is much more about digital content and some of it complicated!

4. Services must be carried out with reasonable skill and care, carried out with information given verbally or in writing to you which is binding where you rely on it, must be done for a reasonable price (if no fixed price in advance) and must be carried out within a reasonable length of time (if no specific time was agreed). So for example, if you book a trader to fit your kitchen and they put the cupboards in upside down you have call for redress as it is a breach of contract, just as it would be if the trader took two months to fit half a dozen cupboards.

5. When complaining ensure that you quote the Act. Quoting the law always shows you mean business and retailers are far less likely to fob you off and quoting a very new one will show it even more so! Be assertive and not rude.