Consumer Complaints Services

County Legal Support Services (CLSS) offers to act on behalf of any individual who wishes to complain about any goods or services they have received and about which they are not happy.  The following are typical examples of consumer complaint:

  • Faulty goods
  • Faulty appliances
  • Goods not as advertised or requested
  • Unpaid wages
  • Landlord and tenant disputes
  • Problems with holidays

  • Faulty Equipment
  • Goods not fit for purpose
  • Disputes with builders or tradesmen
  • Garage repair services
  • Products or services with digital content
  • Problems with professional services - e.g. veterinary services

This service is separate from the McKenzie Friend service.  With consumer complaints, CLSS may act as the agent of the client and take up the complaint on their behalf.  This can include talking to the provider of the goods or services in order to try and reach an amicable settlement and writing letters on behalf of the client.  The final decision as to whether or not to agree the settlement of a complaint rests with the client.


Should it not prove possible to reach an agreement with the provider of the goods or services that is acceptable to the client, then the only recourse may be to take the matter to court.  Such a decision rests with the client.  Should a civil action be decided upon, then CLSS may continue to assist the client in the role of McKenzie Friend, along the lines set out on the McKenzie Friend Page .  Alternatively, the client may decide to put the matter in the hands of a solicitor or to pursue the case themselves, in which case CLSS would withdraw from the process.

Your Rights Explained

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on the 1st of October 2015 and it has been designed to replace three important pieces of consumer legislation:

  • The Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
  • The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 

The Rights

For the first time your rights as a consumer of goods and services are clearly set out in one place and in a way that is much easier to understand.  Your consumer rights include:


  • A Refund within 30 Days: Instead of the previous "reasonable period", you can now reject a faulty item within 30 days and obtain a full refund

  • Effective System for Remedy: Your rights to obtaining a refund are more clearly defined for faulty goods, services and digital content.  Your entitlement to a refund depends on how long you have had the product.

  • Failed Repairs: If the first attempt at a repair or replacement of the faulty item fails, then you are entitled to ask the retailer for a refund or a price reduction.

  • Second Repair: If you do not want a refund or a reduction in the price you originally paid for the item, then you have the right to ask the retailer for a second repair or a replacement.  The retailer cannot charge you for such a service.

  • Digital Content: This new legislation gives you rights in relation to digital content that is:

    • Online digital content that you have paid for.
    • Digital content that has been supplied free with items you have paid for.
    • Digital content that has been supplied on physical media such as a DVD or a CD

    • Unfair Contract Terms: The new Act now introduces a test of "fairness" around key terms in a contract including the price, excessive early termination charges, clauses that limit your legal rights and disproportionate default charges. It makes it easier to object to hidden fees and charges, which are often buried in "the small print".  Under the Act a term may only be excluded from an assessment for fairness where it is both transparent and prominent.  A term is considered to be transparent where it is written or otherwise expressed in plain language which is legible.

    • Pre-Contract Information: If a retailer provides pre-contract information in relation to a service and you take this information into account, the service must comply with that information.

    Product Quality

    The Consumer Rights Act repeats the original criteria set out in the Sale of Goods Act 1979.  All products must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose and must be as described.  This also includes digital content in physical or in digital form:

      • Satisfactory Quality: The goods purchased must not be faulty or damaged when received.
      • Fit for Purpose: The goods must be fit for the purpose they were supplied for.
      • As Described: The goods must match any description provided by the retailer at the time of purchase.

      Claims

      If your purchased product does not conform to any one of the above criteria then you may have a claim under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.  However, any claim you may wish to bring will be against the retailer and not the manufacturer of the product. What you are able to claim against the retailer very much depends upon the amount of time which has elapsed since you first purchased the product as follows:


      • The 30 Day Rule: You have a right to reject any goods that are not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described and obtain a full refund.  But you must not delay because your right is limited to only 30 days from the date of purchase.  After 30 days you have no legal entitlement to a full refund if your product develops a fault.  The right to a refund does not extend to digital products such as apps, music and games which you have downloaded.  But you can ask for such a product to be repaired or replaced if it develops a fault.

      • Repair or Replace:  If your complaint falls outside the 30 day rule then you must give the retailer one opportunity to repair or replace the item or digital content which is not of satisfactory quality, unfit for purpose or not as described.  Although you have the right to ask the retailer to repair or replace the item, the retailer can choose to do whatever is the cheapest.  If the repair or replacement is not successful then you have the right to claim a refund or a reduction in the price you paid if you want to keep the item.  However you are only entitled to a full or partial refund instead of repair or replacement if any of the following criteria are satisfied:

      • The cost of repair or replacement is disproportionate to the value of the item or the digital content.
      • A repair or replacement is not possible.
      • A repair or replacement would be significantly inconvenient.
      • The repair would take an unreasonably long time.
      • The repair has been unsuccessful.

      You can of course ask the retailer to make further attempts at repair or replacement if you do not want a refund.


      • The 6 Months Rule: If you discover within the first six months of your purchase that the product has a fault then the law makes a presumption that the fault existed since the time of purchase.  You do not have to prove that the fault was there all along.  It is the responsibility of the retailer to prove that the fault did not exist at the time of purchase.  If for some reason any attempt at a repair or a replacement is not successful, then you have the right to reject the product and obtain a full refund.  However if you want to keep the product you have the right to a reduction on the price you paid for it.

      • The Plus 6 Months Rule: If after 6 months you discover a fault with your purchased product then the burden is on you to prove that the product was faulty at the time you purchased it.  In practical terms it is highly likely that you would need to obtain some kind of expert evidence or opinion which tends to indicate that other consumers have experienced similar problems across that product range.

      • Time Limits: If the retailer refuses to repair or replace your faulty product, then you have up to six years to make a claim in the Small Claims Court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  If you live in Scotland then the time limit is five years.

      • Delivery Problems: The retailer is responsible for your product until it has been physically delivered into your possession or into the possession of another person nominated by you to receive your goods.  The actual delivery agent is not liable for late delivery, which means that the retailer is responsible for the service provided by the delivery agent that they use.  Retailers must deliver your goods within 30 days, unless you have agreed to a longer delivery period.  If after 30 days or other arranged period, your goods still have not arrived then you have the following rights:

      • If it was essential that the product had to be delivered on time, e.g. in time for a birthday, then you have the right to cancel the purchase and demand a full refund.


      • If the delivery was not time-bound and you cannot agree any other reasonable delivery time with the retailer, then you are also entitled to cancel the order and demand a full refund.

      Supply of a Service

      • Meaning: A service is work performed by someone else for your benefit in exchange for payment.  In practice this generally means that in order to obtain the service, you will have to enter into some form of contract with the supplier of the service.  A service may be provided with or without goods, for example fitting a garden fence where the service supplier also provides the fence panels and posts.

      • Examples of a Service: The following are all examples of providers of, and types of service:

      • Solicitors, Architects, Estate Agents, Vets and Accountants


      • Repair services such as car repairs or electrical repairs


      • Building work such as a home extension or drive installation


      • Double glazing, fitted kitchens or bathrooms 

      • Quality of Service: Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 all contracts must deliver the following quality:

      • The provider must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.


      • The service must be provided for a reasonable price whenever a price for the service has not been agreed beforehand.


      • The service must be carried out in a reasonable time.


      • Information which is written or spoken is binding where you rely on it.

      • When Things go Wrong: If the service that you have been provided with does not conform to the above criteria then you are entitled to the following remedies:

      • The supplier should rework that part of the service which was unsatisfactory or perform the whole service again without charge and within a reasonable time.  The reworking of the service should not cause you undue inconvenience.


      • Where it is impossible to perform the service again or where it cannot be carried out in a reasonable time or without causing significant inconvenience, you have the right to claim a price reduction.  The reduction could be up to 100% of the cost depending upon how severe the unsatisfactory service was.

      Unfair Contract Terms

      Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it is easier to challenge hidden fees and charges, often buried in "the small print".  The key terms of a contract can now be assessed for fairness unless the terms in dispute are prominent and transparent.  Examples of unfair contract terms could be:

      • Fees and charges hidden in "the small print".


      • Excessive fees or charges for early termination.


      • Default charges or "fines" which are disproportionate.


      • Something that limits your statutory rights as a consumer.

      When Things Go Wrong: If you think that a contract term is unfair for any of the reasons stated above then you should make a complaint to the service provider.  If the service provider refuses to consider your complaint or does not agree with it you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.  You should not break the terms of your contract before doing so.  You may wish to take the service provider to court in order to allow the court to determine whether the disputed contract term is unfair but you should only do this as a last resort when all other forms of negotiation have been exhausted.  If the court's judgement is that the disputed term is unfair then you may be able to ignore the term or cancel the whole contract without penalty.

      To learn more about how we can help you with your consumer rights contact us today or complete the form on the Contact Us page