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As a consumer you have a very specific set of rights that are designed to protect you if something goes wrong or you’re treated unfairly. Consumer rights generally cover areas like faulty goods, poor service, credit and store cards, counterfeit goods and rogue traders and if you’ve had an issue when purchasing goods or services then you are usually entitled to take some kind of action. There are a number of consumer support websites online that provide more information about the rights that you have, as well as what action you can take to enforce them and who might be able to provide help doing this. Below are some of the most useful.
Citizens Advice. This is the online equivalent of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and is packed with information about a whole range of rights. There is a specific section on consumer rights and help pages that cover topics such as how to get a refund, buying items online and how to return something that you have purchased. The website also covers categories of purchases, such as cars and vehicles, energy, travel products and builders and home improvements, with advice on specific topics within these categories such as poor quality building work. Citizens Advice is frequently updated and so is a great resource for everything from avoiding scams to understanding how to read a consumer contract.
The Consumer Action Group. This website is designed as a forum and is perfect for the kinds of questions and queries that relate to being a consumer where assistance can be provided by other consumers. Forum topics include ‘broadband and other internet issues,’ ‘employment and minimum wage problems’ and ‘general motoring issues’ and threads can be started on just about anything. The website also has a ‘library’ – available to those who have registered with the site, which is basically a resource for information over a range of topics, including data protection, debt collection and legal statutes.
Which? is a well known consumer website that used to predominantly deal with products, such as laptops, fridges, boilers and pushchairs, but which has spread to cover numerous consumer services. The site provides ‘expert’ guidance on consumer rights and also offers legal advice for subscribers. Other useful features of the website include the Which? trusted traders endorsement scheme and impartial advice to help consumers find the right mortgage. Which? also runs a number of consumer campaigns and these are a useful barometer for consumers to see whether any issues they might currently be experiencing could be about to change. These campaigns include public service complaints and food fraud.
The Trading Standards Institute website dedicates a number of pages to consumer rights and is a useful resource for issues like disputes and problems with goods and services. You can also use the website to find your local Trading Standards Institute office if you want to go in and speak to someone face to face rather than doing everything online.