The Consumer Rights Act (the Act) 2015 will come into force on 1 October this year. Its provisions will probably have a significant effect on those engaged in email marketing, especially with regards to contracts. For some, notably those selling digital content or using it in promotions, it will give rise to training requirements.
The Act consolidates a lot of existing regulations and to have one source for most requirements, limiting research time, will be a relief to many small businesses. Elsewhere, the Act has some cost implications.
If you deal in digital content, defined as anything supplied in digital form, then the Act needs to be studied with care. In short, it describes digital content as including material paid for outright, on subscription or given away free with a product that is paid for, such as, for instance, anti-virus software with a computer.
It establishes a statutory right to a repair or replacement when the digital content is of unsatisfactory quality, is unfit for purpose or does not match its description.
The Act also modifies the time a purchaser can reject an item as unsuitable inside a 30-day period, which can, in certain circumstances, be extended. There are obvious implications for returns policies.
There are changes with regards verbal and written statements about services and many might feel that sales staff and others who speak with customers should be updated as to what they may say. This includes written material as well. Many telephone conversations are recorded at both ends nowadays and a throw-away line might well come back to bite.
The list of unfair contract terms is increased, although the additions to the ‘Grey List’ would not come as a surprise to many. Companies wishing to build a relationship with customers will feel relieved that competitors might now have to be more honest.
The Act is not revolutionary but it does require companies to review their contract terms, their returns policies and advertisements. The training implication has to be costed.
All in all, the Act is not particularly restrictive and has many positive points. It is a shame, though, that, Stephan Hawking-like, a unified act containing all consumer legislation has failed to appear.