What is the new Consumer Rights Act and what does it mean for me?

November 28, 2022

The new Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2022 comes into force at midnight tonight. This new legislation will bring about a number of positive changes for consumers, including stronger consumer rights, protections and remedies across a number of key areas.

To help clarify what these changes will bring, we have put together a summary to explain the CRA and what will mean for you as a consumer.

What is the Consumer Rights Act 2022?

The CRA is comprehensive new legislation which consolidates, updates, and in some cases replaces existing consumer law in Ireland. Its purpose is to modernise and strengthen consumer rights and remedies for Irish consumers.   

What does it mean for me as a consumer?

The introduction of the CRA will mean you will have stronger and clearer consumer rights and remedies when buying goods and services, including digital content and online services. The CRA builds on your existing consumer rights and offers you additional protections that are enforceable by law.

This is especially important when something goes wrong after you buy goods or services. The new legislation gives you stronger consumer rights when it comes to how issues are resolved and identifies what options are available to you.

What are the key changes I should know about?

Stronger redress rights:

The new Consumer Rights Act expands your right to redress if something goes wrong with an item you purchased, e.g. if the item turns out to be faulty, if it’s not as described, or if it’s not fit for its intended use. This means you have extra protections when you buy goods and more definitive options in terms of how you are legally entitled to resolve such issues.

Key examples of new rights within the CRA that will strengthen your consumer powers:

  • A stronger 30-day right to cancel your order and receive a full refund if your goods are faulty or not as described. This provides a clear-cut right to get your money back if you receive goods that aren’t what you paid for.
  • More redress options will be available to you as a consumer – for example, if the business can’t or won’t provide a repair or replacement for a faulty good or service, you now have the right to seek a reduction in price, to withhold payment for goods or services which have not been fully paid for, or to cancel your contract and receive a full refund from the business.
  • Redress must be free of charge to the consumer, which means that any repairs or product replacements must be at no cost to you. They must also be carried out as soon as possible and without inconvenience to you, the consumer.
  • A business must offer solutions: If a business refuses or fails to provide a remedy for goods, services, digital content or digital services that don’t match the description of what you paid for, it is a potential breach of consumer protection legislation. Where the CCPC believes that a business is in breach of the legislation, we can take enforcement action.
  • Delivery rights: Under the new law, you continue to have strong rights when it comes to the delivery of goods. Businesses must deliver your goods to you within 30 days of when you place your order (unless a different delivery timeframe is pre-agreed or clearly communicated to you before you buy). It’s also the business’s responsibility to make sure the goods are delivered to you safely and on time.

New consumer rights for digital goods and services:

The CRA also introduces brand new rights and remedies for consumers who buy digital goods and services.

This means that if you are buying digital goods, e.g. a downloadable game or movie, or a digital service like a subscription to Netflix or Dropbox, you now have strong protections when it comes to resolving any issues.

In addition, businesses are now required to provide you with information on how any digital updates will be provided and over what time period.

Stronger rights and remedies for service contracts:

Consumers now have stronger rights when it comes to services. From home maintenance and healthcare to bouncy castle hire and driving lessons, contracts for services are part of everyday life. The CRA sets out your rights and redress options where the service you receive does not match up with how it was described to you or falls short of what was agreed when you made your purchase.

Redress options like repair, replacement, price reduction and additional remedies such as cancelling your contract and receiving a full refund are all covered under the CRA, which means you will have new consumer powers which are enforceable by law.

Consumer contract rights:

The CRA also introduces very clear rights and entitlements when it comes to the information you should be given before you enter a contract with a business, as well as instances where you have the right to cancel after the contract is agreed.

This means that businesses must provide you with essential information before you agree to sign up to a contract. For example:

  • a full description of the goods or services being provided
  • the total price you will be expected to pay or how it is calculated
  • any additional costs for delivery or postage

When you shop online or buy from a salesperson at your door, you will also be entitled to:

  • information on any terms and conditions that apply to deposits
  • details of the circumstances in which you have the right to cancel and any conditions or time limits that may apply

Any contract information you receive from a business must, by law, be in clear and concise language to ensure you can easily read and understand it. If not, it could be seen as a potential breach of the new legislation and enforcement action could be taken.

Unfair contract terms:

The new CRA also prohibits certain terms from being included in the terms and conditions (T&Cs) of consumer contracts. It contains a blacklist of unfair contract terms and conditions that businesses are never allowed to use and which a consumer will never have to comply with. It also contains a ‘greylist’ of terms that will generally be regarded as unfair and which should be used with caution by traders.

Ultimately, terms and conditions must be fair and balanced, and T&Cs can’t be used as a way to unfairly favour the business’s own interests at the consumer’s expense.

Fake reviews

Businesses are now prohibited from posting or paying someone to post fake reviews. Additionally, before claiming that reviews have been posted by consumers, businesses must take reasonable steps to verify that reviews come from people who have actually purchased or used their product.

New CCPC enforcement powers

The Consumer Rights Act includes new enforcement powers for the CCPC. For instance, if a business refuses or fails to provide a repair, replacement or refund for faulty goods, the CCPC can take action against them.

Where can I find out more?

Click through to read more about your rights when buying goods, your rights regarding contracts and services, and how to complain when your rights are breached.

When will the CRA come into effect?

The Consumer Rights Act 2022 will apply from tomorrow (November 29th 2022).

You can read the full Act on the Oireachtas website.

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