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Faulty download? You’re now entitled to a replacement

Starting from today, UK consumers are entitled to a replacement for faulty digital goods.

That’s because the Consumer Rights Act 2015 became official legislation in the UK today. As well as physical goods, it covers digital products like downloads of films, TV shows, games and music.

If your download isn’t “of satisfactory quality”, “fit for particular purpose” and “as described”, you’re entitled to a replacement, but not your money back. However, for physical goods, you can get your money back, a repair or a replacement.

It’ll be interesting to see how this works with regards to digital purchases. New software inevitably comes with some bugs, though thankfully mobile operating systems are free and hence exempt. But if the multiplayer mode doesn’t work in the game you just downloaded, or a streaming service’s servers go down and you’re unable to watch the film you just bought, you’re now covered.

If a download infects your computer with a virus, the person selling it may have to pay compensation for removing said virus.

The act also gives a mandatory 30-day period in which sellers have to fully refund customers on the receiving end of faulty goods. Previously, us punters were only entitled to refunds for a “reasonable time”, which was at the seller’s discretion. Most gadget makers and sellers offer some form of guarantee, but nonetheless, it’s reassuring to have it enshrined in law.

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The act also covers second-hand goods sold by retailers.

If you do have a dispute, you can take your complaint to certified Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers like the Consumer Ombudsman, which will be cheaper than going through the courts. (The Consumer Ombudsman is free.) But hopefully you won’t have to resort to that.

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