Legislation has come into force, aimed at making financial firms treat their customers more fairly. Here we explain what that means and what your rights are as a consumer.

The Consumer Duty aims to end hidden charges and ensure that providers of products such as savings accounts and mortgages tell their customers if any better deals are available. Firms also need to provide support when it is needed, including shorter wait times when contacting firms.

The financial regulator says the new rules will help vulnerable people and offer fair value to savers.

Knowledge is power when it comes to your consumer rights, so it’s important to understand what they are and how to assert them. We take a closer look at your rights and how to exercise them.

In this article, we explain:

Read more: Can I get a refund on a faulty item after the 30-day returns period?

What is the Consumer Duty?

The Consumer Duty aims to ensure people get a fair service when it comes to financial products.

The Financial Conduct Authority’s own research found 7.4 million people unsuccessfully attempted to contact one or more of their financial services providers over a 12-month period, with the most vulnerable in society struggling the most.

The new duty came into force for new and existing products and services that are open for sale or renewal. It was introduced on 31 July 2023 for closed products or services.

For homeowners, the help available includes extending mortgage terms or switching to interest-only repayments temporarily.

Firms will have to provide helpful and responsive customer service, help you to make good decisions through timely communications that are straightforward to understand and provide products and services that meet your needs and work as expected.

It should be as easy to complain about or switch and cancel products or services as it is to buy them.

Firms should also be able to explain and justify their pricing decisions, including being able to show you that rates offer fair value.

But this does not mean you should not shop around. Customers should still shop around and compare products. The Consumer Duty will help arm consumers with information that could make it easier for them to shop around.

Read more: Why businesses should be banned from auto renewing contracts

What are my consumer rights for refunds?

Whenever you buy something in the UK – physical or digital, online or in store – you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This means that your goods must be:

  • Of satisfactory quality – not damaged or faulty
  • Fit for purpose – – you should be able to use them for the purpose they were supplied for
  • As described – must live up to the description the retailer gave it

If, in the first 30 days after the purchase, your goods don’t meet these criteria, then you have the right to reject them and claim a full refund from the person or business that you bought them from.

You are also legally entitled to a refund if the goods you ordered have not been delivered in a reasonable time – which could be within 30 days or on the date you agreed with the seller.

When might I not be entitled to a refund?

A retailer does not have to offer you a full refund for goods that fail the above test if you:

  • knew that there was a problem with the product when you bought it
  • can’t prove that you bought it, either with a sales receipt or other evidence such as a bank statement
  • damaged your purchase trying to fix it yourself – although you may still have the right to a repair, replacement or partial refund
  • change your mind unless you bought it without seeing it first (see below)

Is there a time limit for refunds?

If the tests above apply and you qualify for a refund, then you have the right to reject the goods and claim all your money back if you return them within 30 days of purchase.

This only applies to physical goods and not digital downloads, such as songs, films or audiobooks. You can ask for these to be repaired or replaced, or be given a price reduction if these aren’t possible.

Can I still get a refund after 30 days?

You are not legally entitled to a full refund if you wait longer than 30 days after purchase to return any unsatisfactory goods.

However, if a problem develops with your purchase within six months, then the law assumes that it was there when you bought it and it is up to the retailer to prove that it wasn’t.

As long as a repair or replacement is possible, the retailer could, at this point, choose to offer you one of these but if any of the following apply, you can then reject the goods for a price reduction or full refund:

  • an attempt at repair or replacement has failed
  • it would cause you considerable inconvenience to do this
  • the cost to repair or replace the goods is disproportionate to their value
  • it would take an unreasonably long time to fix them

You should always approach the retailer first. However, where products are covered by warranties, the retailer is likely to refer you back to the manufacturer, which may repair or replace the item depending on the circumstances.

For digital downloads, you should be given the chance to download the product again if a repair isn’t possible or appropriate.

Read more: ‘My bank is shutting my local branch – where can I do my banking now?’

Can I still get a refund after 6 months?

If six months have passed and there is no cover provided by a warranty, you still have consumer rights for faulty goods, but it’s down to you to prove that the product was faulty at the time of purchase or delivery.

Even if the item is out of warranty, it’s still worth contacting the manufacturer, which may be able to help.

If this doesn’t work then you can go to court. You have six years to bring a civil claim for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five years in Scotland.

Are my rights different if I bought items on sale?

No, you have exactly the same rights to refunds if you bought goods in a sale as if you were to buy them at full price.

Do I have to pay for postage to return faulty goods bought online?

If your goods are faulty, not of satisfactory quality or as described then you shouldn’t have to pay delivery costs to return them to the retailer.

However, you might have to pay postage if you are returning unwanted non-faulty goods, depending on the policy of the retailer.

Many businesses will offer free returns labels so you don’t have to cover the costs.

Remember to get proof of postage in case there is a dispute over whether you have returned the goods or they get lost on the post.

Am I entitled to a refund if I change my mind?

If you simply decide that you don’t want something after you have bought it, but there is nothing wrong with it, then what rights you have depend on where you made the purchase.

  • In store. As long as you return the goods within 14 days, or perhaps up to 30 – it depends on an individual retailer’s policy – then it is likely that you will get a full refund or credit note for the full amount, as long as you can provide proof of purchase and the item is unused or still in a saleable condition. However, this is not a legal right but down to the retailer’s discretion. Always check the store’s refunds policy before you buy.
  • Online, mail order or phone – you have more rights to return goods if you change your mind under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013

Read more: What are my flight refund rights?

These enhanced rights arise because when you buy remotely (known as “distance selling”), you are not able to inspect items before you buy them.

Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, retailers must give you a 14-day cooling-off period. During this time, you can return a purchase for a full refund, including a refund of standard delivery charges.

Exceptions include bespoke or customised items made specifically for you and perishable items such as food or flowers, or products that have a hygiene seal that is broken.

With digital downloads, you are also entitled to a 14-day cooling-off period. However, as soon as you start downloading, the right to cancel is lost.

Under the regulations, retailers must also give you certain information about the products that they are selling, such as:

  • a full description of the product or service
  • the total price or how the cost will be calculated
  • when you will get the goods or service
  • all delivery costs and other fees and charges, including who will pay for returning items if you change your mind
  • your rights to cancel and a form you can fill out to return the goods

What if my delivery hasn’t arrived or is broken?

If you bought something to be delivered and it arrives faulty or doesn’t arrive at all, then it is the seller that you need to contact directly and not the delivery firm or courier.

Your contract is with the retailer and so it is their responsibility to ensure the goods get to you on time and in perfect condition.

The retailer should contact the delivery firm to find out what has happened to your order.

The same applies if the parcel has been left in a place which you have not designated to be safe, such as on your doorstep or with a neighbour, and it is stolen or damaged.

Be careful in designating a safe place on the retailer’s website when making your order.

If you still want your purchase

You have the right to ask the seller for a redelivery under the Consumer Rights Act if the item wasn’t delivered either:

  • by an agreed date
  • within a reasonable time – usually within 30 days

If you want to cancel the purchase?

You can cancel the order and ask for your money back if you don’t get your purchase either:

  • within 30 days of when you bought it
  • by the date agreed with the retailer after the initial purchase – if you needed to receive it in a shorter period than 30 days, such as in time for Christmas by any agreed redelivery date

If you are buying something that needs to arrive by a certain date – a birthday present or an outfit for a wedding might also be examples – make a note when you place the order so the retailer knows that timing is important.

Do I still need to complain to the retailer if a delivery delay is caused by strikes?

Yes. As your contract of purchase is with the retailer you made it with, and not a courier, it’s them you need to make a complaint to if a delivery has not shown up.

However, if you’re purchasing from a small business in a difficult period for deliveries, such as during postal strike action, it may be struggling under a large volume of similar complaints.

If you can, waiting for normal delivery services to resume can be a more straightforward route, also helping the business you’ve purchased from. If it’s a birthday or Christmas gift, and it might not arrive in time because of strike action or other disruption, you can write the recipient an ‘IOU’ and give it to them when it arrives.

Find out more about your rights during a strike.

What are my rights when buying services?

If you want to challenge a service that you have paid for, such as a haircut, you still have consumer rights, but the criteria are different: 

  • Work must be carried out with care and skill
  • Any written or spoken information provided is binding
  • Work must be completed within a reasonable time, if a timescale isn’t agreed at the start
  • The price for the work must be reasonable, if not agreed at the outset

If these criteria are not met, you can request that either all or part of the job is redone at no extra cost and within a reasonable time. Where that is not possible, you can request a price reduction.

Even if you are fully aware of your consumer rights, exercising them can sometimes be challenging when retailers or suppliers don’t cooperate.

Before you start negotiations, amass as much evidence as you can.

  • Keep notes of the problems, with dates and times
  • Take plenty of photographs
  • Gather any paperwork, including invoices or receipts

Are you thinking of using finance to pay for an item? We explain when it’s better to use an overdraft or credit card.

What is Section 75?

For any purchases you make over £100 and under £30,000, you can boost your consumer rights by paying with a credit card.

Thanks to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, your credit card provider is jointly responsible with the retailer should there be a problem with those purchases.

So if your goods are faulty, aren’t delivered or a supplier goes bust, it means that you will get your money back.

You don’t have to have put the full value of the purchase on the card either. A part-payment or deposit of more than £100 will mean you are protected for the whole amount up to £30,000.

While it is usually easiest to request a refund from the retailer first, if that fails or isn’t possible, Section 75 provides you with a reassuring safety net.

There are some caveats, however – debit card purchases, for example, aren’t covered – so make sure you understand where Section 75 does and does not apply.

Read more: ‘I don’t want a credit refund, can I have my money back?’

Does Section 75 cover Buy Now Pay Later?

Section 75 does not cover purchases you have made using “buy now, pay later” services such as Klarna or Clearpay.

To be protected under Section 75, you must have made the purchase direct from the supplier.

Wondering about buy now pay later vs credit cards? We round up the differences between the two.

What does Section 75 cover?

  • Items you purchased for more than £100, but less than £30,000, with a credit card
  • Faulty goods – although you will need to contact the manufacturer first if it’s still under warranty
  • Goods or services that aren’t delivered to you
  • End-supplier failure – for example, if an airline goes bust before your trip

What doesn’t Section 75 cover?

  • Additional cardholder purchases (such as cards for your partner or children) unless the primary card holder has benefited from it
  • Purchases where payment was not made direct to the supplier but through an intermediary, including buy now, pay later services, travel agents, ticket agencies and PayPal (unless the supplier has a “commercial entity agreement”)
  • Cash purchases paid for with money that you withdrew using your credit card
  • Purchases made with a debit card – for this, you need chargeback (see below)

If you aren’t happy with the result of a Section 75 claim, you can exercise your consumer rights by contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Thinking of taking out a credit card? We round up the best 0% interest purchase credit cards.

What is chargeback?

If you made a purchase using your debit card or for under £100 and there was a problem, you could still get your money back.

Chargeback enables you to reverse a card transaction if there is a dispute and secure a refund. The scheme is used by Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

It is important to note that the scheme is not enshrined by law. This means that while your card provider can request refunds on your behalf, it is not guaranteed.

It applies to both debit and credit cards – but unless the purchase is for £100 or less, credit card holders should use Section 75. 

To make a claim, you need to contact your card provider – usually within 120 days.

What does chargeback cover?

  • Debit card purchases
  • Credit card purchases up to £100
  • Disputes including goods that are faulty, not as described or not delivered
  • Purchases from suppliers that cease trading

What doesn’t chargeback cover?

  • Claims after 120 days won’t normally be accepted
  • Claims where there has been no breach of contract
  • Payments made from a PayPal account – even if you loaded the account with your debit or credit card

Further consumer rights help

If you are struggling then there are plenty of further steps that you can take to get your money back.

For further information or assistance, it’s worth contacting one of the following for free:

If you have put in a complaint to a company, but cannot resolve the issue, the consumer rights ombudsman may be able to fix it on your behalf.

Read more: Should I switch to a fixed energy deal?

Important information

Some of the products promoted are from our affiliate partners from whom we receive compensation. While we aim to feature some of the best products available, we cannot review every product on the market.

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