A new law strengthening consumer rights has been approved by the Government.
The Consumer Rights Bill will provide protections over digital goods and services, meaning people will have the same rights over anything they stream or download as they do over a product or service they would buy in a shop.
The legislation also cracks down on aggressive commercial practices like a company leaving fake reviews of its own or a competitor’s services.
The law will cover digital content and digital services such as streaming, downloads and cloud products and the new digital rights will include a right to full refund, exchange or repair when a good or service is not as described or not fit for purpose.
Consumers will be entitled to any upgrades to a product or service that are needed to ensure the goods continue to work as expected and agreed, free of charge.
Instead of just exchange, refund or repair, customers will also be entitled to agree a price reduction on faulty goods, if that suits them better.
Companies who engage in misleading and aggressive commercial practices, such as fake reviews, could be subject to fines imposed by the courts following enforcement action taken by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
The legislation identifies prohibited, “black-listed” terms and conditions which are automatically regarded as unfair when put in a contract.
Examples include 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 into a contract with a consumer.
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar today received Government approval to publish the Consumer Rights Bill 2022.
“Most businesses are responsible and treat their customers fairly when things go wrong. For those that don’t, it can give them an unfair advantage over their competitors,” Mr Varadkar said.
“This new law consolidates a lot of existing legislation and updates it, to make it fit for the modern, digital age,” he added.
The bill will be published shortly and will then make its way through all stages in the Oireachtas.