LibLink: Norman Lamb – How can we bring consumer law into the digital age?

Norman LambWriting for Which? in his capacity as consumer affairs minister, here’s what Norman Lamb had to say about his hopes for improving consumer protection:

I want to develop a single, comprehensive set of shoppers’ rights, which sets out in plain English, all the rights and remedies that consumers have. The intention is to drive up business standards and help you settle issues much more quickly and easily.

At the start of July we launched a consultation seeking your views on proposals to strengthen the law on goods, services, and digital content like music and e-books. Your input will form part of a new Consumer Bill of Rights. We‘ve published a short online version of the main consultation to make it easy for you to share your views because I really want to hear them.

So what could change under the proposals? We have a number of proposals but I’ll pick out a few.

30 days to return goods

When you buy something that doesn’t work you currently have a short period in which you can take it back for a full refund. However, the law doesn’t say how long that period is. We think it’s unfair that one retailer might argue this right runs out after a fortnight but another one would give you longer. We think this period should be 30 days, in line with what some retailers are currently offering, but do you agree?

You can read Norman’s full piece here.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • There are 2 things you need to do.
    1) Everywhere else in Europe, if you buy electrical goods and they break within 3 years the retailer must repair or replace. That should be the same here – no extended warranty scams. At the moment manufacturers can channel their least reliable products here as we have the worst consumer protection
    2) Supermarkets – standardisation of pricing for comparison, eg price per 100g or whatever. At the moment they use price confusion all the time making it much more tedious to make comparisons between different packaging, Force some standardisation, even if you just force it on the top 5 supermarkets only.

  • @ alistair – Just to clarify your first point, in the UK we actually have STRONGER rights that the rest of Europe in this regard – there is a right to repair or replacement of the goods for 6 years after delivery. You have to, of course, be able to prove that the fault was present at the time of delivery (but that’s true in the rest of Europe too), but for the first 6 months after delivery there’s an automatic assumption that the fault was present at delivery and it’s for the retailer to prove otherwise.

  • ombudsmans61percent 22nd Aug '12 - 10:10am

    The Ombudsmans61percent Campaign has calling for a public inquiry into OS:Property for two years now.
    We wrote to Vince Cable (twice) Mark Prisk (twice) and Norman Lamb (twice). We didn’t recieve a reply from any of the Ministers.
    We have since twice complained to the BIS –
    Dear BIS,
    I contacted the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable for the second time on 23/07/2012, Mark Prisk MP for the second time on 24/07/2012 and Norman Lamb, also for a second time, on 25/07/2012 to complain about both the Ombudsman for OS:Property and OS:Property itself.
    So far no-one has replied to my compliant although the BIS website does say complaints/enquiries will be replied to within 15 days. That time has now passed.
    In brief, my complaint was that the Ombudsmans for OS:Property appears not to know her company’s Terms of Reference and that senior executives of the company have refused to a) acknowledge this and b) have also refused to answer any of the 100 questions we at the Ombudsmans61percent Campaign have sought to raise with them.
    In light of this we believe that this company is not fit for purpose and have asked the above Mambers of Parliament to intercede on our behalf.
    We have called for a judicial review of our cases, an inquiry into how this company is run, the role of the RICS in the company they set up, compensation for the victims of illogical decisions and the setting up of a truly fair and independent dispute resolution service free from RICS’ influence.
    So far there has been no response from any of the ministers.
    When can we hope for a reply from the the Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable, Mark Prisk MP and Norman Lamb MP?

    No day soon would seem to be answer – in the meantime more members of the public are being sent to OS:Property by surveyors who know that their Ombudsman finds overwhelmingly in their favour.

  • ombudsmans61percent 23rd Aug '12 - 10:27am

    Who is there to protect the consumer – members of the British public – when MPs and Her Majesty’s Ministers chose not to act for whatever reason?
    Democracy is far more important than the career prospects of politicians.
    If you really are; liberal, democratic, fair and objective when approaching a problem why not become an Ombudsman for an hour, a day or as long as you can give and investigate our case – 510458.
    It has been blogged at – ombudsmans61percent.
    We look forward to your fair and honest appraisal of the facts.
    Best wishes

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