The UK’s New Consumer Rights Act Will Protect The Right to Return eBooks

2892956403_38ccb83058_bWe've all encountered badly made ebooks, but with only Amazon offering a reasonable return policy there wasn't much that we could do about it. But today that situation changed for readers in the UK.

The UK has enacted a new law which extends existing consumer protection laws to include digital content. The Consumer Rights Act guarantees that anyone who buys digital content such as DVDs, online films and games, music downloads, or  ebooks in the UK will have the opportunity to return the content and get a refund should it prove defective.

The refund period is limited to only 30 days, but the law also gives UK consumers an addition five months to request that the retailer repair or replace the faulty digital content. If the repair or replacement is unsuccessful, the consumer can then claim a refund or a price reduction if they wish to keep the product.

The new law also includes provisions giving consumers the option to challenge terms and conditions which are not fair, or are hidden in the fine print of a website's ToS. There's no guarantee that a consumer will win the challenge, but they do have the chance to get a third party to mediate the dispute rather than having to take the retailer to court.

With UK consumers having spent an estimated £2.8 billion on downloaded music, games, and videos last year, the new regulations are long overdue.

The new rules will probably have a greater impact on game downloads than ebooks, but readers will still come out ahead. Fiascos like the screwed up Sim City launch will prove an expensive and even more public error for developers under the new law, but the law will also give readers a recourse for DRM making their ebooks disappear.

That recourse is only good for six months after purchase, which doesn't strike me as fair at all, but it is better than nothing.

Mashable

image by lurker4hire

About Nate Hoffelder (11591 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

4 Comments on The UK’s New Consumer Rights Act Will Protect The Right to Return eBooks

  1. Right. You return the unread portion of the eBook, and I’ll return the unspent portion of your money.

    I don’t really see this new piece of legislation working all that well.

  2. I work for a DRM free publisher, we have no way of getting people to ‘return’ ebooks. Once they’ve got it they’ve got it. So in theory doesn’t this mean people can just buy all our ebooks then ask for a refund and have that and the book?

  3. @Kariss I don’t see why you couldn’t request a refund for an eBook which had garbled text, for example, and yet still retain that item. If it’s broken, you wouldn’t want to use it. Possessing the file would offer no value to you, the reader.

    Another possible issue with this legislation could be the definition of ‘faulty’ in relation to eBooks.

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