Ever downloaded an app that didn’t work? Paid for a streaming movie that kept getting stuck? Couldn’t get a new song to play on your phone? Well soon you’ll be legally entitled to a refund thanks to an update of the consumer bill of rights.
As it stands, there are eight different pieces of legislation covering products in the UK, along with 60 different sub-laws concerning investigations into rights breaches. Jo Swinson, consumer minister, has announced that these laws will be brought into the 21st century, by combining all consumer rights law into a single piece of legislation, as well as updating it for the inclusion of digital purchases. According to estimates, this will save the British economy around £4 billion over the next ten years.
Tim Cook: Good thing there’s never any problems with our apps. And they don’t get viruses. Or crash, ever.
The most noticeable change for consumers however, will be the fact that legally, firms that provide faulty digital products will be forced to offer a refund. That means if you download a game to your phone and it freezes, you can get your money back. This could have far reaching effects on the games industry, if lots of people take up the refund offer. It could theoretically makes companies less trigger happy with game releases, since it could lose a lot of profit if game breaking bugs are commonly reproduced after launch.
Swinson said of the change (via The Guardian): “Stronger consumer protection and clearer consumer rights will help create a fairer and stronger marketplace. We are fully aware that this area of law over the years has become unnecessarily complicated and too confusing, with many people not sure where to turn if they have a problem. We are hoping to bring in a number of changes to improve consumer confidence and make sure the law is fit for the 21st century.”
KitGuru Says: While I can’t see some game companies suddenly not releasing buggy games, I hope it at least gives them pause for thought. Maybe debacles like SimCity would never have happened had this law been in place sooner.