Archive for the ‘Consumer Rights’ Category

New Consumer Credit Rules

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

The Government today laid new rules in Parliament to protect borrowers.

These rules implement the European Consumer Credit Directive and will come into effect from 1st February 2011.
They will work in conjunction with the Office of Fair Trading’s irresponsible lending guidance for lenders which will be published shortly.

The new rules for unsecured credit agreements include:

  • * a 14-day window for consumers to cancel credit agreements without penalty;
  • * lenders will have to assess consumers creditworthiness before providing a loan;
  • * lenders will have to clearly explain their products to help consumers make the right choices;
  • * a right for consumers to make partial early repayment (this is in addition to the existing right to repay early in full); and * a standardised information form setting out important information details for consumers before they sign a credit agreement.

Consumer Minister Kevin Brennan said:
“These new rules will further strengthen a culture of responsible lending and borrowing whilst helping put consumers back in the driving seat with their finances.”

“The balance of power needs to shift back to consumers and these new rules will help them make better informed decisions before committing to any credit agreement.”


  1. Details of the new rules will be available from Office for Public Sector Information (OPSI) towards the end of w/c 5 April
  2. The ECCD rules will apply to unsecured credit agreements up to £60,260. The ECCD regulations will come into force in the UK as of 1 February 2011.
  3. Lenders will have from 30 April 2010 until 31 January 2011 to comply with the new provisions, but are encouraged to offer consumers the new rights as early as possible.


    Safe Shopping on the Internet

    Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

    This article is intended to offer consumers practical guidance when shopping on the internet. We also hope it will clear up some misconceptions and ease your worries about purchasing goods online.

    So what stops some people from purchasing goods online ?

    Not recognising the security features used by sites or not trusting them.
    Answer: Finish reading this article.

    The site concerned is not a well known high street name or brand.
    Answer: The sites that only exist on the Internet can undercut many of the largest retailers. It therefore pays to shop around on the internet.

    Worries about customer service, such as delivery of the goods or refunds.
    Answer: Read their terms & conditions and details of their delivery service. Or better still send them an email asking for further information and see how long they take to reply, this can frequently be a good indicator of their customer service.

    Stories about credit card numbers being used online without the knowledge of their true owners.
    Answer: Ironically, in virtually all the cases of online credit card fraud the actual card numbers were obtained offline. Organised gangs recruit shop assistants and waiting staff to write down card numbers or using small machines create electronic copies of credit cards while they have them to process your transaction. Safe Shopping Tips

    1. Do not send your credit card details by ordinary insecure email or using an ordinary un-encrypted / insecure web page form.

    2. When entering your credit card details make sure that the page where you enter your details is secure. To check this look for one of the following:

    Look for a locked padlock symbol at the bottom or top of the browser window.

    Check that the website address on the credit card payment page contains “https://”, the “s” stands for secure.

    3.Check to see if the site has a digital certificate. Look for a logo stating that the site has a digital certificate, this can usually be found on the homepage or on a page dedicated to shopping security. If you click on the logo it will take you to the actual digital certificate. Digital certificates verify the identity of the site you are buying from so that you can be confident that they are who they say they are.

    Sometimes the digital certificate will belong to the company hosting the web site. This tells you that the site is hosted on the hosting company’s servers and that the hosting company has all the necessary contact details relating to the site.

    One of the main providers of digital certificates is Thawte, they will only issue a digital certificate once the company applying has verified their legal details, such as their date of incorporation & company registration number and registered office address.

    4.If you are required to create a password to complete your purchase use, (where possible) a combination of numbers and letters, rather than recognisable names or words that may be guessed by others.

    5.Where possible print out a copy of the transaction order so that you have a record of the order for future reference and keep any emails that confirm your purchase.

    6. Always look for the site’s contact details a link to these is normally placed on the homepage of the site.

    7. Never post your credit card details on a bulletin board or in a chat room.

    Why Shop Online ?

    1. Price
    Goods bought online are frequently cheaper, even when allowing for delivery charges and VAT. This is particularly true of goods bought direct from the US, the savings can be up to 50%.

    2. Convenience
    No sitting in traffic using your fuel, paying for parking or struggling on public transport. Instant service without having to stand in shop queues.

    3. Security
    If a site uses all the security measures detailed above you should be able to shop in confidence. In fact it is safer to use secure online shopping than give your credit card details over the telephone or send them by fax, simply because secure online shopping is the only method that actually encrypts your details before they are sent.


    Motor Vehicle Ownership

    Thursday, December 10th, 2009

    A common area where disputes about ownership arise is where the owner of a motor vehicle discovers that it is still under hire purchase agreement and the seller therefore has no right to sell the car in the first place.

    The buyer may face demands from the finance company for return of the vehicle. Does the buyer in these circumstances have any right to keep the car?

    Under the Hire Purchase Act 1964 a buyer will get good title to a car which is sold when it is still under hire purchase if:
    1.The buyer did not know the car was under hire purchase and therefore bought the car in good faith believing the seller had the right to sell it.
    2. The buyer is a private buyer and not a dealer or finance company.


    Holidays – What are my rights?

    Friday, November 27th, 2009

    When you book a holiday a contract exists between yourself and the Tour Operator. The Booking Agents act on behalf of the Tour Operator.

    The Terms will be set out in the Tour Operators’ brochures. The Tour Operator is also liable for the services provided to you by hotels and airlines if it is part of
    the Tour Operator’s package.

    The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has issued two Codes of Conduct to protect holidaymakers, namely, the Tour Operators’ Code and the Travel Agents’ Code.

    The Tour Operators’ Code provides that Tour Operators must include information in their brochures regarding the following:

    a. Liability – For foreign inclusive holidays the contract must include a term “accepting responsibility for acts and/or omissions of their employees, agents,
    sub-contractors and suppliers.” However they can limit liability for acts and omissions which occur during the actual transportation, e.g. by air, rail or sea, if this
    complies with international conventions.

    b. Cancellation – The cancellation must not be made after the dates the balance of the price becomes due otherwise the Tour Operator must pay compensation on a scale.
    The nearer to departure cancellation occurs the higher the compensation will be. If cancellation occurs before the balance of the price is paid then the customer must
    be told as soon as possible and offered either a full refund or an alternative, comparable holiday.

    c. Over Booking – If a holiday is cancelled or altered due to over-booking of hotels and the Tour Operator is aware over-booking has occurred they must immediately
    inform the customer and offer an alternative, comparable holiday or full refund. If over-booking is only discovered on arrival by the customer then they must be
    offered alternative accommodation and if the location or facilities are inferior, they must be offered compensation.

    d. Surcharges – These must not be made less than 30 days before departure or they will not be recoverable. Also Tour Operators are expected to bear up to 2% of the
    increased cost of the holiday price. If surcharges exceed 10% then the customer may cancel the holiday and seek a refund.

    e. Building Works – The Tour Operator must notify customers if they become aware that building works exist at a resort and it is likely to affect the enjoyment of the holiday. They must offer the customer an alternative resort or their money back.


    Know Your Rights : Want to see your exam records?

    Saturday, September 12th, 2009

    The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published a good practice note explaining the right to access examination records under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998) . The Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA 2000 ) also gives individuals the right to access other (non-personal) information held by public authorities.

    The ICO notes that most of the information colleges and universities have relating to students’ examinations will be personal data. Universities and colleges need to deal with requests from students for information about their exam performance within 40 days. They will also have to deal with requests for general information made under the FOIA 2000 within 20 working days .

    Examination marks, scripts, comments and minutes of appeals can be obtained by making a subject access request, under the DPA 1998, to the appropriate school, college or university. More general information, such as college or university policies or procedures, can be requested using the FOIA 2000

    Students receiving exam results this summer can find out more about their grades by using their rights under the Data Protection Act. Guidance produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) explains how students can access personal exam records.

    Examination marks, comments and minutes of appeals can be obtained by making a subject access request, under the Data Protection Act, to the appropriate school, college or university. More general information, such as college or university policies or procedures, can be requested using the Freedom of Information Act.

    David Smith, Deputy Commissioner at the ICO said:

    “A cornerstone of the Data Protection Act is that individuals have a right to access personal information held about them. At this time of year many students are focusing on their exam results and may want to access further information about their performance. Our guidance aims to help students understand their rights and ensure that schools, colleges and universities meet their obligations.”

    If you need more information, please contact the Information Commissioner’s press office on 0207 025 7580 or visit the website at: