The Consumer Protection Act and law

The Consumer Protection Act is legislation developed to facilitate better relations between traders and consumers. The development of the Act is the understanding that technicalities of sales process at times make consumers vulnerable to losses. On the other hand, it is equally necessary for a trader to get protection. In this respect, the Consumer Protection Act ensures that an amicable relation is developed during a sales event. In addition, Sale of Goods Act principles complement the consumer law. The consumer law ensures that goods offered to customers are of a satisfying quality as described by the traders, as well as fitting the intended purpose. It is, therefore, the responsibility of a consumer to assess the performance of a product to guarantee that if it develops a fault, such product is rejected and money claimed back[1]. Consumer law outlines that for every transaction, measures are put in place to make sure that there is a precise procedure for recalling a defective product.

The consumer law exists to protect consumers from predatory businessmen intending to defraud unsuspecting consumers. Although the society consists of many rogue traders, the consumer law was legislated to control their criminal activities and protect the customers’ rights. Although all consumers are interested in ending the vices, each of them raises complaints to obtain personal solutions. The objective of the paper is to analyse various circumstances in which consumers and traders were engaged in sales agreement and determine the prevailing circumstances.

Consumer rights policy is a directive that identifies the quality and fitness of goods in a sales contract. In a sales contract, goods sold to a consumer should always fit the intended purpose. What is more, a consumer has a right to safety while using a particular product. A damage that is caused by a defect in a product should be liable for the damages that such defective goods have caused.

Although Tracy bought the product for intended use by her mother, the item was defective, which led to compromised safety of her mother. Consumer protection in this circumstance seeks to protect Tracy from unfair terms[2]. In fact, the hot casing of the luxury coffee machine became so hot that it burnt her arm badly. The implication is that this luxury coffee machine was hazardous. The product does not fit the description of a luxurious coffee machine. It is unfortunate that the burn resulted in a scar, and occasionally the scar hurts. Tracy’s mother should sue for damages. The reliance on a label of “Sale items cannot be returned” is not excusable for damages of bodily harm on Tracy’s mother; hence, it cannot be the reason for not issuing the refund or exchange for another coffee machine. Consumers also possess a right to information, which is material to making a purchase decision. The trader who sold the luxury coffee machine was rogue. It was the responsibility of the trader to demonstrate Tracy the label that indicates that the shop does not accept goods once sold. Incidentally, the coffee machine lacked any label showing that the casing gets hot on use. This makes it possible to prove that the hot casing was a defect of the product. The general requirement of the consumer law is that the quality of goods should conform always to the sales contract[3]. Therefore, Tracy’s mode of payment using a Barclaycard is recognizable mode of payment[4]. All information is required in determining the eligibility of a trading event in relation to the consumer law.

In the similar case, Gill v. Rollins Protective Service Company, Gill sought compensation based on her burnt house on her behalf and that of her husband after Rollins Protective Service Company installed a fire alarm system, which did not raise alarm following a fire[5]. As a matter of fact, the alarm was set up where Gill’s husband usually smoked. The alarm during the date of fire never raised alarm; neither did the internal and external lights indicate incidence of fire. The case was assessed using theories of common law of negligence by a supplier, where the court passed a verdict in favor of Gill for damages amounting to $238,032.78. Rollins appealed leading to case Gill v. Rollins Protective Services, in which Judge Williams ruled that the wrong standard in ruling was applied. Gill appealed for reconsideration of the case, in which Judge Hilton applied statutory claim awarding Mrs. Gill damages with the compensation of $244,238.17[6]. The company was negligent given that it installed faulty alarms. In fact, Mrs Gill had installed the alarm to protect her husband from fire since he was suffering Alzheimer disease and he was a careless smoker. Therefore, on the fate of fire, she relied on the alarm system and never called fire fighting emergency services. In the same case, Home Alliances Ltd is negligent for selling faulty luxury coffee machine.

Notably, the Supply of Goods to Consumer Regulation 2002 also captured on Sales of Goods Act 2003 Clause 48A up to 48F[7]. These clauses allow lawyers to prove that if a product becomes faulty six months after purchase, then such products are considered faulty during the purchase. Tracy, therefore, has a basis for claiming compensation from the trader. She is entitled to a full refund because the product was not of the expected quality. The burden of proof is for Tracy to demonstrate that the product was not satisfactory at the time of purchase. Hence, she is protected by the consumer law from the deceptive omission of a clause that indicates that goods once sold cannot be returned.

In the related case, Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co.[8], Jablonski passed away during an accident caused by 1993 Ford Car model. Dora Jablonski, the wife of the deceased, sued Ford Company for product liability alleging that a system error in the fuel tank system was defective making it hazardous to drive the car, which was negligence by Ford Company. The case was ruled against Ford and damages of $43 million were awarded to Jablonski.

The law allows consumers to expect product purchased being of a satisfactory quality. The implication is that the products should be of reasonable standard in consideration of the description and pricing among other relevant factors[9]. In this regard, a luxury coffee machine fails the test of being luxurious when the casing gets hot to a point of burning Tracy’s mother.

 

The relationship of Mathew and Arron on provision of service to fix wallpaper indicates that, indeed, Arron chose the best quality wallpaper. The basis of the choice was the advertisement, in which the manufacturer guaranteed 10 years for the wallpaper to last. However, the wallpaper started falling off after six weeks. Although Mathew, the service provider, blames manufacturers by asserting that the paper was defective, Arron’s investigations indicate that Mathew never followed instructions on preparation. This exonerates manufacturers from the blame.

The technical fact is that most service providers evade liability for their negligence, hence passing the blame to manufacturer. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure that facts are established on whether defects are attributable to manufacturer or the service provider. In this case, the service provider Mathew bears the responsibility for failing to follow instructions. Arron’s consumer rights protection indicates that a product should serve the intended purpose; hence, in case of the failure, Arron should demand for a refund or repeat of the service at the expense of Mathew. In this regard, Arron had purchased the right product of the required quality. Mathew made fault during preparation. This makes Mathew liable for replacement or refund of the costs. Mathew’s blame on manufacturer fault is deceiving. Consumer protection precisely indicates that consumers are only shielded if it can be proved beyond any doubt that it is a fault of the manufacturer rather than negligence in following instructions by the service provider.

In the similar case, Malen v. MTD Products, Inc., Malen was operating a mower that had warnings on how to operate including instructions to switch off engine before placing feet and hands on moving blades[10]. Additionally, the warning signs also instructed not to operate the unit where it could slip or tip. The mower failed to operate as expected forcing Malen to dismount the mower with blade spinning which slipped cutting his foot. The court ruled Malen was at fault of not following the instructions. Therefore, the manufacturers were not negligent.

Judicial experts argue that the line that divides fraudulent business practice and careless delivery of service to a customer depends on the circumstances[11]. In this regard, acceptable business practice may turn out very fraudulent through coincidental poor service by a third party provider. It is under this premises that Arron is short-changed by Mathew in wallpaper mounting and painting.

 

Arron as a client is faced with a number of consumer law rights issues. For instance, Mathew blames manufacturers for the fault in wallpaper falling after six weeks. However, as it has been already mentioned, Mathew’s negligence on following instructions precipitated the fault. This makes Mathew liable. What is more, the assertion that there was a clause eliminating any liability regarding increased costs, expenses, damages and losses linked to decorating services on the part of Mathew infringes on the consumer law rights. The purported clause in a way empowers Mathew to execute expecting no consequences for negligence.

According to the case Duckworth v. Franzen, reckless execution of duty is accompanied by equivalent value in damages[12]. On the same note, in the case Bresland v. Ideal Roller & Graphics Co. it was ruled that negligence which “seems predetermined … also so close to intentional” makes the party liable to take the responsibility[13]. Hence, in the given situation, Mathew should take the responsibility of meeting the cost of the wallpapers.

The consumer law protects consumers from rogue service providers and traders, who always develop clauses, to ensure that consumers are shielded from their negligence. As a matter of fact, the consumer law takes note that all relevant information that when displayed would facilitate a consumer to make a transactional decision should be displayed[14]. Concealment of such material information constitutes infringement of consumer rights. When information is concealed to force an average consumer make a decision he/she would not have made under different circumstance, the law protects the consumer. The individual should demand money back or repeat of service[15].

In this case, Mathew is dishonest and tries to play underhand tactics consistent with a rogue trader. Therefore, he is liable for breaking consumer law. Furthermore, the law ensures that consumers are provided with information especially on services or products that are technically complex and highly priced. Mathew’s payment of £1,750 for the work is expensive enough to adhere to his terms of service to Arron. However, this clause is illegal given that it contravenes the Consumer Protection law.

The UK consumer protection agency seeks to ensure that consumers are protected against malicious trading practices. In a competitive market, Tracy is supposed to demand that the providers offer services that are of high quality. Arron purchased the two puppies based on utmost faith that they were Staffordshire breed and possessed friendly temperament. Arron’s consumer right is breached when the puppies demonstrate aggressive and irritable behaviour. Consumer Protection Act holds that publishing an advertisement that is false is an offence[16]. In this case, a trader is liable for fines and penalties. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Regulations Act ensures that utmost good faith agreements between traders and consumers are honoured. The purchase of the puppies exposed that they were actually not pedigrees but crossbreeds. This is indication of consumer rights infringement. The pricing is fraudulent given that there is misrepresentation of breeds.

In conclusion, the law is, indeed, significant in ensuring that consumers always get products that are safe and fit for the intended purpose. There are various technical areas outlined by the Consumer Protection Act of 2007[17]. In most cases, rogue traders conceal information material to making a transactional decision by an ordinary consumer.  In the law case Director of General of Fair Trading v. First National Bank, the bank’s accusation of unfair interest term was ruled to be in good faith with a sole intention of ensuring that the bank’s objective of being in business was necessary[18]. The implied guideline is that a clear precise exposure is necessary for a business transaction to be considered fair to the consumers. It is necessary for the consumer to prove beyond doubt that the information was concealed. The law defends consumers against rogue traders, who conceal information and clauses that infringe on the rights of a consumer. The essence of the consumer protection law is to prohibit traders from deceptive actions, deceptive omissions and aggressive advertising. Although honest traders understand that giving a customer an excellent service implies increased future profitability, consumer law seeks to eliminate red tape. Hence, consumers should always seek terms and conditions of a sale of a product to ensure that all relevant information is exposed. It is the responsibility of a consumer to report defective products. Finally, under all the above discussed circumstances, the rights of a consumer were infringed.

 

 

 

 

Legislation

Consumer Protection Act 1987

EU Directive 1999/44/EU

Sales of Goods Act 1979

Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

[1]           Consumer Protection Act 1987, Pt 1, s 2,15.

[2]           Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

[3]               Howells, Geraint G., Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wilhelmsson, and David Kraft, Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2010) 199.

[4]               Consumer Protection Act 1987 Pt.3, s 49, sub.5.

[5]           Gill v. Rollins Protective Services Co., 836 F.2d 194 (4th Cir. 1987).

[6]               Maxwell, D. (1993) Private Security Law: Case Studies. (Boston: Butterworth) 212

[7]           EU Directive 1999/44/EU.

[8]               Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co., 923 N.E.2d 347 (Ill. App. Ct. 2010).

[9]               Sales of Goods Act 1979, Sale and Supply of Goods ACT 1994.

[10]             Malen v. MTD Products, Inc., 628 F.3d 296 (7th Cir. 2010).

[11]             Wendehorst, C.C ‘Case C-509/07 – Luigi Scarpelli v NEOS Banca SPA,’ European Review Review of Contract Law, (2010), 6(1) 67.

[12]             Duckworth v. Franzen, 780 F.2d 645, 649 (7th Cir.1985)

[13]             Bresland v. Ideal Roller & Graphics Co., 501 N.E.2d 830 (Ill. App. Ct. 1986).

[14]             Consumer Protection Act 1987, Pt.3 s 50, sub.5

[15]             Consumer Protection Act 1987, s 1.

[16]             Consumer Protection Act 19871987, Pt. 3, s 51, sub.1

[17]          Consumer Protection Act 19871987, Pt.1, s 1.

[18]             Director General of Fair Trading v. First National Bank [2001] UKHL 52 (25th October, 2001)


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