A new set of rights for victims of misleading and aggressive commercial practices came into force on 1st October 2014. Whilst it has been an offence for businesses to use these kinds of tactics since 2008, there has been no recompense for consumers who feel they have been victims.
The Consumer Protection Regulations 2014 give consumers new rights to take civil actions to try and get compensation on goods or services received on or after 1st October.
A misleading commercial practice is one which contains false information, or is likely to deceive the average consumer in its overall presentation. An example might be the promise of certain benefits from buying a particular product or service that are in fact false, download speeds of an Internet provider for example.
An aggressive commercial practice is one which significantly impairs the consumer’s freedom of choice through the use of harassment, coercion or undue influence. A pushy door-to-door salesman who convinces a vulnerable person to sign up for a product or service they do not need by using unfair language and persuasive tactics is an example.
According to the Department for Business Innovation & Skills 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
Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson said:
The vast majority of businesses treat consumers fairly and provide a great service. However, a few bad apples have damaged the reputation of good business, broken the law and treated customers as a cash cow.
This is why we are providing consumers with new powers to challenge rogue businesses and giving people the confidence to take action when they have been bullied or misled.
If anyone thinks they’ve been bullied or misled into buying something the best thing to do is try and sort the issue out directly with the company and if that doesn’t work then contact Citizens Advice on 08444 111 444. They are an excellent source of advice and guidance.
For more information or to speak to a civil litigation solicitor please call us on 0161 785 3534.
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