What does the new Consumer Rights Act mean for Ecommerce?

8th October 2015

As a Magento agency, we’re not only creating online shopping experiences, we’re also keeping abreast of everything related to ecommerce. As of the 1st of October 2015 a new Consumer Rights Act became official legislation in the UK. It is “the biggest overhaul of consumer rights in a generation“.

The new Consumer Rights Act gives the consumer much greater protection compared to the previous act. It is, in many ways, an update and clarification of existing acts, now brought together into one Act.

How will the new Consumer Rights Act affect you?

The new Act deals with unfair contracts, anti-competitive shenanigans and faulty goods. There are some interesting changes to consumer rights in regards to products. The consumer now has a 30-day time period to return faulty goods. If you bought them from a UK-based retailer, you are entitled to ask for the goods to be repaired, or to get a full refund. The Act says you can now get that refund up to 30 days from purchase. The money must be returned to you within 14 days. Even if you bought the product more than 30 days ago, you are still entitled to a repair or a replacement. The retailer has one chance to make the repair. If you are still unhappy, you have a right to a refund. This right extends to 6 months after the purchase.

How will the new Consumer Rights Act impact ecommerce?

“Consumers will now be much better informed and protected when buying goods or services on the internet. They will now be entitled to get for the first time a free repair or replacement for any faulty digital content.” Vince Cable.

The big question for us ecommerce fanatics; does the new Consumer Rights Act impact ecommece? Yes, it does. The Act has been partly updated to ensure that sellers and consumers alike have the confidence to operate online. It is fair to say that legislation around consumer rights has not kept up with the extreme pace that ecommerce is moving at… Until now that is! As well as the increased consumer protection mentioned above, the Act now covers digital content too.

First of all there is already Online and Distance Selling Regulations in place for ecommerce, which provides protection over and above the new Consumer Rights Act. But with the new protection digital goods like downloaded films, games, music and ebooks are covered as well. It can however be difficult to prove that downloads are faulty and / or not working.

Therefore a replacement will be more likely than a refund. If a download damages your computer with a virus, you will be entitled to a compensation depending on the download. Computer games, for example, can sometime carry viruses and therefore might be harder to gain compensation for.

Any retailer, ecommerce or not, must also make sure that their goods are fit for purpose, match the product description and have clear labelling. The new Act also covers second-hand items bought off auction sites such as eBay or Amazon however this only applies when the goods are bought from a retailer and not an individual.


The new Consumer Rights Act covers businesses selling to consumers, and not B2B transactions. If a purchase is made that could possibly be both for business and personal purpose, the purchase could fall under the new regulations.

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