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The new Consumer Rights Act — which came into effect yesterday — fundamentally affects the furniture retail sector’s relationship with its customers.


Judith Turner, senior ombudsman at the Stevenage based alternative dispute resolution provider the Furniture Ombudsman, said that while most of the provisions relating to when a product breaches a contract — such as fitness for purpose and satisfactory quality — remain the same, there have been some subtle changes to language.


Below is a summary of key changes affecting furniture retailers.


Early Right to Rejection


If a fault is discovered within 30 days of receipt of the goods, the consumer may reject the goods and seek a full refund. This is a significant departure from the previous position whereby a product was accepted after an undefined reasonable period of time.


If a fault is discovered within the rejection period the consumer can opt to have a repair or a replacement.  If a consumer opts for having a repair or a replacement, the 30-day rejection period stops temporarily from when the fault is raised until the consumer has a satisfactory product.  The consumer then has 7 days, or the remainder of the rejection period, to assess whether the repair has been successful. For example, a consumer receives a product and discovers a fault on day 10 of them having the product and selects to have a repair, the consumer’s rejection period stops until the repair is carried out.  The repair is carried out on day 15, a wait of 5 days; the consumer now has until the remainder of the rejection period to assess the success of the repair, this being 20 days. The consumer’s rejection period would then end on day 35.


One Shot


If a fault is discovered after the rejection period the consumer has a right to a repair or a replacement.  The consumer cannot require the retailer to carry out the remedy if it is not proportional or it is impossible.

If a subsequent fault appears following either a repair or a replacement then the consumer can seek a full or partial refund depending on the length of time they have had the product.  The retailer now only has one attempt after the rejection period to give the consumer a product that is both fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality after a fault has been discovered, before they can seek to cancel the contract.  Therefore, the retailer will have to ascertain and be sure that any proposed repairs will be fit and lasting before they are carried out.


Delivery


Unless it is agreed to the contrary, the goods must be delivered without undue delay or not more than 30 days after the date of the contract.

The consumer can give a written delivery deadline after the estimated date has passed and if this is not met the consumer has the right to cancel.

Installation Remedy

If the installation is defective the remedies are in line with those in goods contracts – repair, replacement and refund in full or part - however rectification is desirable.  


For more information, visit the Furniture Ombudsman’s website

www.thefurnitureombudsman.org



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