The Consumer Rights Bill has got the go-ahead for publication and will consolidate and modernise consumer law and give new protections for digital goods and services.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said the new law is good for consumers and good for business.
Most businesses are responsible and treat their customers fairly when things go wrong, he continued, but those that don’t have an unfair advantage over their competitors.
Consumer rights will now extend to anything streamed or downloaded, and cloud products, and there will be a crackdown on aggressive commercial practices, such as a company leaving fake reviews on its own or competitor’s services.
New digital rights include:
- Right to full refund, exchange or repair when goods or services are not as described or not fit for purpose,
- Consumers will be entitled to any upgrades to the product or service that are needed to ensure the goods continue to work as expected and agreed, free of charge,
- ‘Black-listed’ contract terms and conditions which are automatically regarded as unfair will be prohibited, such as any condition which allows a trader to unilaterally change the terms of a contract, or any provision which would indemnify a trader from harm caused by a product or service.
Businesses will also be required to set out clearly a description of the goods or services being provided, the total price of the item and the cost of delivery before entering a contract with a consumer.
Crack-down on dishonest practices
Companies that engage in misleading and aggressive commercial practices, such as fake reviews, could be subject to court fines following CCPC enforcement action.
Instead of just an exchange, refund or repair, customers will also be entitled to agree a price reduction on faulty goods, if that suits them better.
They will also be entitled to withhold payment for goods partially paid for if they are not satisfied with the quality of the item received.
Any form of redress must be free of charge and must be carried out as soon as possible.
Welcoming the publication of the bill, Minister of State with responsibility for Consumer Protection legislation, Robert Troy said: “This bill represents the biggest overhaul of consumer rights law in 40 years.
“The proposed legislation modernises and consolidates existing consumer protection law and significantly strengthens the enforcement powers of our agencies responsible for ensuring consumer rights such as the CCPC and ComReg.
The bill will be published shortly and will then make its way through all stages in the Oireachtas.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment has completed pre-legislative scrutiny on the bill.