Consumer rights - services

We will all find ourselves relying on a service at a point in time, which can occasionally let us down. In such situations, it is important that consumers are aware of their rights.

 

Chapter 4 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is the law, which protects consumers when purchasing services after 1st October 2015, applicable in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

What is a service?

Legislation defines a service as 'a contract for a trader to supply a service to a consumer'. This section is deliberately vague because 'services' cover many different areas, for example:

  • Building work and renovations
  • Visits to the hairdressers
  • Educational courses
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Professional cleaning services

 

Services can also be attached to the provision of goods, such as a bathroom fitting company who will provide the bathroom appliances (goods) and install this into a home (service).

 

A ‘trader’ is defined under Section 2(2) of the Act, as ‘a person who is acting for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession, whether acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name on the trader’s behalf.’

 

Creating a contract

A legally binding contract can be created either in writing, or through a verbal conversation, subject to the consumer relying upon the agreement made. An example of this is where a consumer had verbally agreed an installation date with a trader, and subsequently booked annual leave to enable the installation to take place. In this situation, a consumer could clearly show that they had relied upon the date agreed in the verbal conversation.

 

Top tip:

Contracts are important documents, which will likely be relied upon if things go wrong; therefore always try to ensure any agreement relating to a service is made in writing. This can be something as simple as confirming the order via email, though it is often best if the document is a mutual agreement including specific terms regarding the service itself.

 

If a time frame to complete the work and price has not been explicitly agreed, the work should be completed within a ‘reasonable time’ and at a ‘reasonable cost’. The word ‘reasonable’ is not clearly defined within legislation as this can vary significantly dependent upon circumstances.

 

In addition, the trader must complete the work with ‘reasonable care and skill’, in accordance with section 49(1) of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If there has been a breach in the standard of service, a consumer may seek remedy in accordance with any remedies incorporated into the contract, or can seek remedy under the Act.

 

In the first instance, concerns should be communicated clearly to the trader directly, requesting them to carry out the service again at their own expense. This should be completed within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer.

 

If the trader refuses to redo the work, or has attempted to re-perform the work and it is still not satisfactory, the consumer may request a price reduction (up to a full refund).

 

If no agreement can be reached, other steps can be taken including alternative dispute resolution, and court action. For further information and guidance on these options, contact Health Assured’s legal team.

 

Republic of Ireland

In Ireland, consumers are protected under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980. This act states that suppliers must have the necessary skills, take proper care and diligence and finally use materials, which are of merchantable quality; which means quality that reflects the purchase price.

 

 

If you would like to find out more information on any of the topics mentioned in this article, please contact Health Assured on:

UK: 0800 030 5182

ROI: 1800 936 071

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