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dealers should be prepared as consumers gain rights

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October, and dealers and other consumer-facing businesses are advised to review their customer sales contracts and check compliance.

Under the Act, consumers will have new rights in respect of faulty or incorrectly described goods and services (and digital content, if any) supplied by traders.

These rights naturally cover the supply of motorcycles dealers and associated servicing, repairs and maintenance.

Certain underlying principles – for example, whether goods supplied are of satisfactory quality – have not changed in principle but the Act enhances consumers’ rights to reject goods where, say, an attempted repair has failed to resolve a fault (where the fault is serious enough to result in the goods not conforming to the contract etc) or a further fault occurs in the six months from delivery.

“Enhanced rights of rejection will inevitably expose dealers to greater risk,” says the National Motorcycle Dealers Association (NMDA), “particularly in the context of vehicles which can depreciate rapidly. It follows that you need to be careful about how your employees categorise certain issues, and how these issues are presented to consumers as part of your customer-service response.”

Dealers are advised to ensure that consumer-facing employees have a good understanding of the new rights conferred by the Act. It may also be necessary to review complaints-handling procedures and other terms and conditions. The rights conferred by the Act operate largely independently of any manufacturer warranty.

“Further, just because a consumer is entitled to a particular remedy under the Act does not necessarily mean that you can pass on that liability to the manufacturer under the commercial terms agreed with that manufacturer,” the NMDA warns.

“You should, if possible, explore with your manufacturer(s) how it/they intend to support you in the context of any new responsibilities brought about by the Act, so that you are not unduly exposed for faulty products.

“When problems arise it is still up to dealers to control the process as much as possible, avoiding situations where the consumer elects to exercise any enhanced rights under the Act, which might expose you to significant loss.”

More details in the forthcoming issue of BDN.

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