Consumer Legislation

Following is some useful UK and EU consumer legislation, much of which I have had to use when something goes wrong. This information is not legal advice but a list of useful legislation with brief examples of its potential relevance. Before relying on the information below, you should seek professional legal advice, for example from Which Legal Service.


Section 9(3)(e) of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for goods purchased from 1st October 2015)
Section 14(2B)(e) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for goods purchased until 30th September 2015)
A UK retailer who sells you goods is responsible for ensuring that the goods are durable. A manufacturer's warranty is a contractual right that is in addition to, and does not replace, your statutory rights. In many cases, it is reasonable to expect goods to last for longer than any manufacturer's warranty period. This will depend on the price paid and a reasonable expectation of the typical lifespan of the goods. If the goods do not last a reasonable time, you have a right to request the seller to repair or replace the goods free of charge under Section 23 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 or Section 48B of the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

Section 5 of the Limitation Act 1980
In England and Wales, you have up to six years to bring an action against a supplier for breach of contract (five years in Scotland). A manufacturer's warranty with a shorter period does not override this. Article 5(1) of Directive 1999/44/EC, which is often misquoted as a mandatory European two-year warranty, merely states that the limitation period may not be less than two years from the date of delivery. Given that UK legislation already allows more than two years, the article has no effect upon UK legislation.

Regulation 5(4)(k) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
If a retailer misleads you that you have no rights after the expiry of a manufacturer's warranty with the intention that you pay for repairs for which it is potentially liable, then the retailer is committing an offence under Regulation 9 punishable under Regulation 13 by a fine and/or up to two years' imprisonment.

Article 8 of the Supply of Extended Warranties on Domestic Electrical Goods Order 2005
Most extended warranties expire before the retailer's obligations end under Section 23 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015, and are therefore unnecessary. If a retailer sells you an extended warranty (for example as a condition of a discount on the price of the goods), you can cancel the extended warranty within 45 days.

Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974
If you pay for goods or services on a UK-issued credit card costing between £100 and £30,000, your card issuer is jointly liable with the supplier for any breach of contract, e.g. defective goods or if the supplier goes out of business. This does not apply to transactions on debit cards or charge cards, neither of which is a means of credit. Your card issuer is jointly liable for the full amount of the purchase even if you pay only a small amount (e.g. £1) on the credit card. This is particularly useful when paying a deposit for a brand new car, provided that the total price of the car is not more than £30,000. Similarly you are protected if, when booking an expensive holiday with an airline or tour operator which surcharges for payments by credit card, you pay £1 by credit card and the rest by debit card.

Section 13(1) of the Equality Act 2010
A business may not charge a higher price (e.g. for nightclub entry, dating web site membership) to men than to women (or vice-versa).

Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for contracts entered into from 1st October 2015)
The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (for contracts entered into until 30th September 2015)
If terms and conditions in a standard contract are unfair to the consumer with a significant imbalance between the parties' rights, they cannot be enforced.

Article 20 of Directive 2006/123/EC
A business located anywhere in the European Union may not discriminate between customers based on their nationality or place of residence. Therefore if a multinational business sells services at different prices in each member state, it may not impede cross-border purchases of those services in order to force consumers to pay higher prices in some countries.


Articles 5(1)(c) and 6(1)(e) of Directive 2011/83/EU (Consumer Rights Directive), enacted in the UK under Regulation 9(1), Schedule 1(c), Regultion 10(1) and Schedule 2(f) of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and in Italy under Article 49(1)(e) of Decreto Legislativo 21 febbraio 2014, n.21
Businesses throughout the European Economic Area must quote to consumers "the total price of the goods or services inclusive of taxes". The directive is enacted into national law in each EEA member state. For example, hotels and hotel booking web sites in the EEA are not allowed to quote a total price that excludes local tax or city tax and then ask guests to pay the omitted tax locally when checking in or checking out. Hotels must fund any local or city taxes out of the total price that you have paid or agreed.

Regulation 5(4)(g) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
A retailer must not give a misleading indication of the price of goods or services, for example by excluding compulsory additional charges in order to make a price look cheaper than it really is.

Regulation 6(4)(d) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, Articles 1 and 4 of the Price Marking Order 2004 and Schedule 1(c) of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
VAT must be included on prices of products (goods and services) intended for consumers. Prices intended primarily for business customers do not have to include VAT.

Regulation 14(1)(k) of the Value Added Tax Regulations 1995
When a retailer gives you a VAT invoice for an amount over £100, it must show the amount of VAT charged.

Schedule 1 Paragraph 20 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
A retailer may not describe a product as "free" if you have to pay for it or it is conditional upon paying for something else.

Article 7(5) of the Price Marking (Food and Drink Services) Order 2003
On a restaurant's menu, any compulsory additional service charge must be displayed at least as prominently as the price of the food to which it relates. For example, a mention of the service charge in small print on the last page is not sufficient.

Schedule 1 Paragraph 7 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
A double glazing saleman may not induce you to make a quick purchase decision by falsely informing you that the quoted price will not be available after the current day. Similarly an airline may not induce you to buy flights during a promotional period and then decrease the price of the same flights immediately after the promotional period.

Section 51 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015
If a business doesn't tell you the price of a service before you consume it, then any price that the business charges afterwards must be reasonable. For example, some restaurants deliberately omit their unusually high price for beer from their menus, keeping the price a secret until the bill comes. Any charges in such a scenario must be reasonable, for example by being comparable to prices of similar establishments in the same area.

Buying online

Part 3 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
If you buy non-perishible goods online from a UK web site, you can cancel the purchase and return the goods for a full refund (including the original delivery fee) up to 14 days after you receive the goods. In accordance with Regulation 10(4), if the web site failed to inform you that you are responsible for the cost of returning a cancelled purchase, then the web site must also bear the cost of returning the goods.

Regulation 6(1)(c) of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002
Any UK web site, through which goods or services can be bought, must publish an e-mail address through which it can be contacted. A contact form on a web page is not an e-mail address.

Regulation 7 of the Companies (Trading Disclosures) Regulations 2008
A UK company must display its company name, company number and registered office address on its website and on correspondence.

Regulation 27A of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
If a UK business deliberately sends you goods that you did not ask for, you can keep them or throw them away. You cannot be charged for them, nor do you have to return them at your cost.

Regulation 22 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003
An organisation may not send you unsolicited marketing e-mails unless you have chosen to be a customer or prospective customer of the organisation and the marketing is of similar products or services.

Regulation 40 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013
A web site cannot add additional products by default to your order that you did not explicitly choose to buy. For example, an airline may not include travel insurance by default with the onus on the customer to untick a box.


Article 19 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights, enacted in the UK under the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012
Businesses may not charge consumers additional fees to use particular credit or debit cards if those fees exceed the additional cost borne by the business. For example, when it costs an airline 20p to process a single debit card payment covering multiple flight segments for multiple passengers, the airline cannot make a surcharge of £6 per flight segment per passenger.

Article 62(4) of Directive (EU) 2015/2366 on payment services in the internal market, enacted in the UK under Regulation 6A(1) of the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012
With effect from 13th January 2018, businesses may not charge consumers additional fees to pay by credit or debit card. The advertised price of the purchased goods or services must include the business's costs of accepting card payments. This legislation applies to all card types in the UK, but not necessarily in other EEA member states.

The Credit Cards (Price Discrimination) Order 1990
UK credit card companies cannot force retailers to charge consumers the same for credit card purchases as for cash purchases. This legislation is no longer relevant.

Regulation 86(1) of the Payment Services Regulations 2017
Outgoing bank transfers must reach the payee's account by the next business day after the instructed valid payment date.

Regulation 89(1)&(3) of the Payment Services Regulations 2017
Incoming bank transfers must be immediately credited to your bank account or credit card account upon receipt by your bank or card issuer. Your bank or card issuer cannot, for example, post-date the transaction until the next day or wait until the next day to make the funds or increased credit available to you.

Regulation 91(2)&(3) of the Payment Services Regulations 2017
If you instruct your bank (or similar payment service provider) to make a payment to another bank account and the payee does not receive the payment, then the onus is on the sending bank (or payment service provider) either to prove that the payee's bank received the payment or otherwise refund the amount of the payment to you.

Article 3(1) of Regulation (EC) No 924/2009, enacted in the UK under the Payments in Euro (Credit Transfers and Direct Debits) Regulations 2012
For making or receiving electronic payments in euro to or from other European countries, a bank located anywhere in the EU must charge the same as it does for making or receiving payments in euro within the same country. In other words, international payments in euro must cost the same as domestic payments in euro.

Article 9 of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012
For payments in euro, the payer cannot require the payee's bank account to be in a specific EU or EEA member state, and the payee cannot require the payer's bank account to be in a specific EU or EEA member state.


Article 9(3)(a) of Sixth Council Directive 77/388/EEC, enacted in the UK under Article 19 of the Value Added Tax (Place of Supply of Services) Order 1992
You cannot be charged VAT when roaming with a UK SIM card outside the European Union's VAT area. The EU VAT area includes some non-EU territories such as the Isle of Man and Monaco, but excludes some EU territories such as Gibraltar, the Canary Islands and French overseas departments.

Regulation (EU) No 531/2012, amended by Regulation (EU) 2015/2120 and enacted in the UK under the Mobile Roaming (European Communities) Regulations 2007 and the Mobile Roaming (European Communities) (Amendment) Regulations 2013
Since 15th June 2017, mobile networks cannot charge you more than the domestic price when you visit other European Economic Area countries and territories. For instance, if you pay for a monthly volume of minutes, SMS and data to use in the UK, then any voice call, SMS and data session you make while travelling abroad in the EEA will be deducted from that volume as if you were in the UK. The regulations do not apply to EEA SIM cards used outside the EEA or to non-EEA SIM cards used inside the EEA.

Regulation 11 of the Telecommunications (Data Protection and Privacy) Regulations 1999
All UK phone companies must allow their customers to withhold their telephone numbers when making outgoing calls, for example by prefixing the dialled number with 141.

Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights, enacted in the UK under Regulation 41 of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013
Customer service telephone lines may not operate on prefixes that cost more than a normal phone call to a geographic or mobile number. For example expensive surcharged prefixes starting 084, 087 and 09 are not allowed. If you have to call a business's customer service line on a surcharged prefix, you can claim back any surcharge from the business; if you have a fixed price package for unlimited calls to normal rate numbers, you can claim the full cost of the call.


Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004
If you are delayed by an EU airline or are delayed when flying from an EU airport, you may be entitled to statutory compensation from the airline, as well as certain out-of-pocket expenses.

Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008
Airlines must in all stages of the booking process indicate the total final fare to be paid including all unavoidable taxes and charges, and must additionally give a breakdown of certain taxes and charges.

Article 3(2) of First Council Directive 72/166/EEC
A motor insurance policy issued in an EU member state must provide the minimum legal cover required by national laws when the vehicle is taken to other EU member states. Insurers do not have to provide the same cover when abroad as in the home country, although most do; uniquely some UK insurers do not.

Section 54 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
It is illegal to wheel clamp or tow away vehicles on private land. However, land owners may now impose charges akin to penalties or fines for breaching any advertised terms and conditions for parking.

Article 5(2) of Directive 2004/38/EC
Non-EU spouses of EU citizens who are legally resident in an EU member state must be given visas quickly free of charge by any other EU member state. For example, a UK-resident non-EU wife of a British citizen must be given a Schengen visa free of charge by any Schengen country. Mandatory use of a chargeable visa agency breaches this requirement.

Article 3(3) of the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic 1968
If a vehicle is legal for use in its country of registration, then it is legal for use in any other signatory country. This allows you to take your car temporarily to other countries without having to modify it to comply with another country's laws.

Article 9(1) of the Geneva Convention on Road Traffic 1949
In any country on all two-way roads, traffic must drive always on the left or always on the right. Countries are not allowed to have a mixture of roads where traffic drives on different sides, such as Savoy Court in London or Hong Kong in China.