There are many laws protecting consumers from unfair practices in the United Kingdom. Some of these are preventative in nature. In other words, they try to protect consumers by not allowing unsafe products from being sold.
Other laws seek to give consumers a chance for retribution if they feel they have been treated unfairly.
These consumer laws cover situations such as:
- You’ve bought faulty merchandise
- You’ve been treated unfairly or did not receive what you paid for
- The goods you purchased were counterfeit
- Fraudulent or unfair charges have been placed on your credit cards
- A contract was not fulfilled
- Problems with builders
Consumers can consult with the Citizens Advice Bureau if they have problems or concerns. There are 316 offices across the U.K. and they are available to help citizens with financial and legal advice. Their main goal is try and prevent problems from arising by helping citizens make informed choices.
The government also works to support free trade and a competitive market place. Laws are passed to prevent monopolies or cartels from taking over the free market and fixing unfair prices.
These consumer laws are enforced by Acts of Parliament, government actions and statutory laws, and contract laws. Private groups and agencies are place to work in behalf of consumers who are treated unfairly.
The Enterprise Act of 2002 gave consumer agencies, that are approved by the Secretary for State and Trade, the right to act on behalf of consumers as “super complainers”. Their purpose is to give consumers a stronger voice in the marketplace. Eight of these groups had been formed by 2007.
Specific Laws that protect Consumers:
Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act protects buyers who have purchased items using a credit card.
Sale of Goods Act states that:”Goods are of satisfactory quality if they reach the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price and any description.”
Supply of Good and Services Act: This works the same as the Sale of Goods Act but refers to services purchased. For instance if you hire someone to fix your washing machine or paint your house and they never provide the agreed upon service.
Denied Boarding Regulations: This covers situation where you have purchased an airline ticket and the flight is cancelled and you are not offered a refund or another flight.
Distance Selling Regulations: This works to protect consumers who purchase from the internet. It gives consumers seven days after delivery of a good purchased to return the item if not satisfied.
If you feel you have been treated unfairly your first stop should be seeking counsel from your local Citizen Bureau. If that does not prove helpful you can try a consumer advocate group.
Small claims court is also an option. You can file a claim and take it to court without the need for a solicitor.
A final option is to hire a private solicitor who specializes in consumer law. This can prove to be an expensive option but may be worth the cost if your problem has resulted in a large monetary loss.