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Consumers given new weapon in fight against rogue traders

From 1st October 2014 consumers who are bullied or misled into buying services or goods they neither need nor want, will now have a period of up to 90 days to take legal action under the Consumer Protection Regulations 2014.

Examples could include those who are harassed into home improvements by a door-to-door salesman when they really don’t need it or somebody who is misled into purchasing a mobile phone by false promises on download speeds and network coverage.

This could also extend to when a young person is stopped in the street and misled into parting with hundreds of pounds by promises of a modelling career, or to an elderly person being bullied into paying thousands of pounds for goods they really can’t afford.

The new rights will introduce:

  • a new 90 day period for victims to get out of a contract. Beyond this period consumers will still be able to get a discount on the price paid, as much as 100% depending on the actions of the trader. At present there is no right to a discount. Consumers can currently seek damages in the civil courts but it is extremely complex

  • a right to damages for any additional losses or stress suffered as a result of the actions of the trader

  • a brand new right to take personal action through the civil court for misleading or aggressive demands for payment, for example aggressive or misleading debt collection. At present there is no legislative right for consumers to do this

An example of a case where the new rights could be used is where an elderly person with mobility issues is approached by a company offering to make adaptions to their bathroom.

A company salesman uses high pressure selling techniques to convince the consumer that they need more than just a new shower, and offer other products including a new toilet and sink. The consumer signs up for a loan agreement but is not given a proper explanation about what it involves.

Work on the bathroom is carried out and is completed to a very poor standard and the consumer is left facing a huge debt totalling thousands of pounds.

This is great news for for consumers – although such practices may have fallen under the Consumer Protection Regulations, these only meant that the company could be convicted for aggressive sales practices, but consumers had no right of redress.

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