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 14(2B)(e) of the Sale of Goods Act 1979
A UK retailer who sells you goods is responsible for ensuring that the goods are durable. A manufacturer's warranty 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 48B.

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 tells 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 48B of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, 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 failure, 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 a travel agent 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).

The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999
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.


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 Regulation 7(1)(a)(iii) of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
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 Regulation 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 Regulation 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.

Buying online

Regulation 11 of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
If you buy 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 7 working days following the day after which you receive the goods. 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 7(1)(a)(iv) of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and Regulation 6(4)(e) of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008
A web site cannot hide a delivery charge until the payment stage or until after you have created a user account with the web site.

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 24 of the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000
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.

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.

Regulation 70(1) of the Payment Services Regulations 2009
Outgoing bank transfers must reach the payee's account by the next business day after the instructed valid payment date.

Regulation 73(1)&(2) of the Payment Services Regulations 2009
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 limit available to you.

Article 3(1) of Regulation (EC) No 924/2009 on cross-border payments in the Community, 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.


Section 18(3)(e) of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982
If a UK mobile phone network supplies you with a phone intended for use with its services (even with little or no up-front charge for the phone), the phone must be sufficiently durable to last for the minimum contract period of the services. Therefore if the phone develops a fault before the contract has finished (and in many cases for a long time afterwards), the mobile network is responsible for repairing or replacing the phone under Section 11N.

Article 9(3)(a) of Council Directive 77/388 (“the Sixth VAT Directive”), 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 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 June 2012 on roaming on public mobile communications networks within the Union, enacted in the UK under the Mobile Roaming (European Communities) Regulations 2007
Limits are imposed on charges for using your mobile phone in other European Economic Area countries and territories. Price limits are defined in euro which are typically reduced on 1st July each year. You must be billed in per-second increments for outgoing calls after the first 30 seconds and for incoming calls from the beginning. You cannot be charged to receive text messages. The regulations do not apply to EEA SIM cards used outside the EEA or on their home network, 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 Payments) Regulations 2013
Customer service telephone lines are no longer allowed to 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 will not be 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, this will be the full cost of the call.


Article 7 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91
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 of 24 September 2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community
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 of 24 April 1972 on the approximation of the laws of Member States relating to insurance against civil liability in respect of the use of motor vehicles, and to the enforcement of the obligation to insure against such liability
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 of 29 April 2004
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 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.