The advice sheets below have the lastest information on problems with services. If you need more advice, please call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
In the guide
This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you important rights when you make a contract with a trader for the supply of goods, services and digital content. It sets out what you are entitled to expect from the goods, services and digital content and gives you clear remedies if they fail to meet your expectations - for example, the goods or digital content may be faulty or the service below standard.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights of redress if a trader misleads you or engages in an aggressive commercial practice, and the Consumer Credit Act 1974 allows you to hold a finance provider as equally responsible as a trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation.
There are other laws that give you equally important rights and remedies.
This guide gives an overview of the rights and remedies available to you.
See the guide 'Sale & supply of goods: your consumer rights' for more information.
The 'Supply of digital content: your consumer rights' guide gives more information.
See 'Supply of services: your consumer rights' for more information.
Rights of redress: what can I claim?
If you enter a contract because a trader misled you - for example, they claimed goods on sale were antique and they were not or because they used an aggressive commercial practice, such as pressurizing you into entering a contract - the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 give you rights of redress: the right to unwind the contract, the right to a discount and the right to damages. These rights are in addition to the rights you have under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.
The 'Misleading & aggressive practices: rights of redress' guide gives more information.
On-premises / off-premises / distance sales: what am I entitled to?
When a trader sells goods, services and digital content:
... they must comply with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
What if you decide to cancel the contract? You have the right to cancel most distance and off-premises contracts and the cancellation period is 14 days. The right to cancel does not apply to on-premises contracts. Traders must give you certain information before they make a contract with you. They must get your clear agreement if they want to charge you for 'extras'.
There are clear rules on delivery and the point at which you become responsible for the goods. If the trader sends you 'unsolicited' goods (goods that you have not ordered) you can keep them and you do not have to pay for them.
If the trader provides a telephone helpline for you to contact them about the goods you have bought, it cannot be charged at more than the basic rate.
The 'Buying from business premises: on-premises contracts explained', 'Buying at home: off-premises contracts explained' and 'Buying by internet, phone & mail order: distance contracts explained' guides give more information and explain which contracts are not covered by the Regulations and when the right to cancel does not apply.
What remedies do I have if I pay on finance or with a credit / debit card?
If you paid for the goods, service or digital content on finance arranged by a trader or if you paid using your credit card and they cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, you have rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Section 75 of the Act makes the finance / card provider as responsible as the trader for a breach of contract or misrepresentation - for example, supplying faulty goods or making a misleading claim about a service. You are entitled to take action against the trader, the finance / card provider or both.
If the cost exceeds £30,000 and is less than £60,260, and the finance was arranged specifically to buy the goods, service or digital content, you may be able to claim against the finance company under section 75A of the Consumer Credit Act 1974.
If you are unhappy with the finance provider's response, seek the advice of the Financial Ombudsman Service.
If you use a debit card to make the purchase or if you use a credit card and the price of the goods, service or digital content is less than £100 (your rights under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 would not apply), you may be able to take advantage of the chargeback scheme. Chargeback is the term used by card providers for reclaiming a card payment from the trader's bank. If you can evidence a breach of contract - for example, the goods supplied are faulty - you can ask your card provider to attempt to recover the payment. Check with your card provider as to how the scheme rules apply to your card, whether internet transactions are covered and what the time limit is for making a claim.
Under the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012, which were amended by the Payment Services Regulations 2017, traders are banned from imposing surcharges on consumers for using the following payment methods:
Traders can impose a surcharge for other methods of payment, but the amount must not be excessive; it must reflect the actual cost to the trader of processing the payment. The Regulations apply to most sales and service contracts.
The Regulations give you rights of redress. Any requirement to pay a banned surcharge, or the part of a surcharge that is excessive, is unenforceable by the trader. This means you do not have to pay. If you have already paid the surcharge or the excess, you are entitled to a refund.
If you have a complaint about surcharges, report it to the Citizens Advice consumer service.
How long do my consumer rights last for?
In England and Wales you have a limit of six years from the date of the breach of contract (for example, the supply of faulty goods or digital content, or a poor service) in which to make a claim against the trader. This works a little differently in Scotland where you have a limit of five years to make a claim, starting from the time you became aware there was a problem.
This does not mean that the goods, digital content or service has to last the five or six years; it depends on what is reasonable.
Do I have any remedies under a guarantee or warranty?
Yes, but there are rules, set out in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, that apply when a trader or a manufacturer offers a free guarantee with goods, services and digital content.
So, what is a guarantee? This is a statement given by a trader or a manufacturer that the goods, services or digital content will meet certain standards and if they do not, you will be entitled to claim a refund, replacement or repair. There is no obligation on a trader or a manufacturer to offer a guarantee but if they do so, it is legally binding. For example, if a trader refuses to repair the goods when the guarantee states that they will, the trader will be in breach of contract and you can make a claim. This might be for the cost of getting the goods repaired elsewhere.
A warranty (or extended warranty) is a form of insurance policy, which provides cover for the unexpected failure or breakdown of goods, usually after the trader or manufacturer's guarantee has run out, but it can cover the same time period as a guarantee because it may offer additional cover. Check the terms and conditions to find out what you are covered for.
A guarantee or warranty is additional to the legal rights you have as a consumer and must not affect those rights in any way.
The 'Guarantees & warranties' guide gives more information on these rules.
The trader is refusing to help me: what should I do?
If the trader refuses to deal with your complaint or tells you to contact the manufacturer, distributor or importer, you should inform them that they are responsible and that you are entitled to expect that they deal with your complaint and arrange a suitable remedy. In some instances, the trader may wish to consult with their supplier, especially if the nature of the fault is in dispute, but this does not affect your claim against the trader.
See the guide 'Is the trader right?' for more information.
Last reviewed / updated: August 2018
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.
For further information please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Citizens Advice website or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.