If you’re wondering what to do about a problem with a car, an electrical appliance, a package holiday or another product or service, we’re here to help.
Know your rights
In 2015 the Consumer Rights Act came into force providing greater protection if goods or services are faulty. Within 30 days of purchase you can reject most products if they are not “as described, of satisfactory quality and fit for the consumer’s particular purpose”. This excludes perishable goods, digital content and purchases from non-business sellers.
For most products, if a fault occurs in the first 6 months the presumption is that it has been there since purchase. Unless the retailer can prove it wasn’t, they need to replace or repair the item – and if a repair isn’t satisfactory you can insist on a refund (or a discount if you’d prefer to keep it, or if it’s a motor vehicle).
After 6 months it is up to you to prove the product was faulty when you bought it – but if necessary you have up to 6 years to make a claim in court. Manufacturer warranties and guarantees add to your rights under the Act. Each one is different, but they tend to be useful if something’s gone wrong after the first 6 months and you want a repair or replacement – it’s tricky to do this as you may have to prove you didn’t cause the problem
Services must be performed with “reasonable care and skill” and “within a reasonable time”. Any statement a trader makes while a consumer is deciding to enter into the contract (or making a later decision about the service) is now legally binding.
Can you make a claim?
You can find out if you’re entitled to make a claim by using our national website – go to citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer where you can find tools to help if you have faulty goods or have a problem with a service or a motor vehicle. In this section you can get information about how to complain and also find lots of “template” letters which will help you complain in writing about products and services.
Get more help
If you don’t get anywhere with your initial approach, the “Get more help” link in the same section provides information about Trading Standards, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and other things you can do.
You can make a claim in court, but this can be stressful and time consuming – it’s probably only worth doing this if the item was expensive – and the judge will probably ask if you have tried ADR. Many sellers are now part of ADR schemes which offer a range of mediation, arbitration and ombudsman arrangements.
Help on the phone
Around half a million people phone the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline each year and around 98% say they are satisfied with the help they receive. You can contact the helpline free between 9am and 5pm on weekdays on 0808 223 1133.