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The government’s draft consumer rights bill aims to clarify the law.

Consumers will find it easier to get their money back on faulty products, substandard services and broken digital downloads under new measures announced today by the government.

The Draft Consumer Rights Bill, one of the government’s pledges in the Queen’s Speech in May, aims to simplify eight pieces of overlapping legislation into one.

Under the proposed law, shoppers will be able to get some money back after one failed repair of goods; demand that shoddy services are redone, or claim a discount; and get a repair or replacement of faulty digital goods.

“For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse in relation to digital content,” said consumer minister Jo Swinson.

“It is about time consumers knew what their rights are and businesses have clearer information on what is expected of them when problems inevitably do arise. That is why we have put clarity and fairness at the heart of the proposed Consumer Bill of Rights.”

“Apps or other ‘intangible software’ are not currently covered because they’re not technically classified as a good or a service”

Citizens Advice Bureau

The government says the bill will cut back on some of the 59 million hours a year people spend dealing with goods and services problems, and could boost the economy by £4bn over the next decade. Businesses will also benefit because they will spend less time working out their legal obligations to customers and training staff in consumer law, it explained.

The bill would address digital products such as apps, a spokesman for the Citizen Advice Bureau said: “Apps or other ‘intangible software’ are not currently covered because they’re not technically classified as a good or a service. There is actually no provision to tell you what to do if you download an app and it breaks.”

Which?’s executive director, Richard Lloyd, said the bill would bring consumer law into the 21st century. “There are many welcome measures in the bill, including reforming the law on unfair terms and conditions and giving consumers clear rights when digital downloads go wrong.”

The British Retail Consortium, which advised on the bill, welcomed its attempts to make the law clearer. “We broadly welcome the attempt to clarify consumer rights when a product is defective; to introduce a proportionate system of redress for consumer protection issues led by enforcers; and in particular to define a consumer protection regime for digital content for the first time in the absence of a fully harmonised EU approach,” said director general Helen Dickinson.

The draft bill follows a consultation on consumer rights carried out by the government last year. It will now undergo scrutiny in the House of Commons and Lords.