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Consultation launched on ‘bill of rights’ aimed at meeting needs of customers in a digital age

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Consultation on a new UK consumer bill of rights that is intended to meet the changing needs of customers in a digital age has been launched today by the Government.

Measures put forward by Norman Lamb, minister for consumer affairs, are aimed at simplifying existing consumer law, updating it for a new generation of digital consumers. The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said that since most consumer law is now around 30 years old, it does not clearly cover digital content such as music, games and software. Today’s move, it said, would give consumers more confidence in their purchases, strengthening rights in relation to faulty services, and laying out a framework for the sale of digital content.

Subjects included in the consultation include extending the time in which consumers can return goods for a refund or repair to 30 days, plus a seven day period for the consumer to assess any repairs. Proposed rights on digital content include ensuring the quality of content, that copyright is respected and that content meets the description given.

“The Consumer Bill of Rights will deliver greater clarity for consumers and save time and money for businesses so boosting confidence for consumers and businesses alike,” said Lamb. 

“The UK’s consumer law is complex and difficult for consumers and businesses to understand. We want consumers to feel confident about their rights so they can challenge businesses when they buy poor quality goods, services or digital content such as music or games. These new measures aim to do just that. 


Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer body Which?, welcomed the move. “This should help people know what they’re entitled to and what they can do when things go wrong, which is good for consumers, better for businesses and benefits the economy,” he said. “To catch up with the 21st century the legislation will also need to make clear the rights of consumers when they’re buying services or shopping in the digital world.”

And the British Independent Retailers Association said it was important that all take part. “The Consumer Bill of Rights will redraw the legal landscape both for buyers and sellers,” said a spokesperson. “This consultation is crucially important: it must be got right first time and it must avoid unforeseen consequences. It is vital that as many brains as possible are brought to bear on it. Everyone should take part.”

Click here to find out more and take part in the consultation, which will run until October 5.

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