/ Money, Shopping, Technology

Where do you stand with dodgy downloads?

Man angry at laptop

Tech products are now central to our lives, yet many of us aren’t aware of the rights we have when things go wrong with downloads. Are you missing out on refunds or repairs you’re legally entitled to?

Did you know that, as of 1 October this year, you now have new rights under the Consumer Rights Act?

This means you may be protected if any device you bought after 1 October stops working as a result of a software update.

Six in ten may be out of pocket

In our recent survey we found that 58% of people weren’t aware of their legal entitlement to a replacement or repair if their digital download develops a fault. And a third hadn’t heard of the Consumers Rights Act at all. That’s potentially a lot of people being left out of pocket.

As Christmas approaches and spending goes into festive overdrive, it’s frustrating to think that consumers could be losing millions of pounds because they’re not aware of these changes.

Here’s a good example of how the Consumer Rights Act can help you in the future. A Which? member contacted us a few months ago about a software upgrade that broke his Blu-ray player. After completing the upgrade the player stopped working. He complained to the manufacturer of the player and was given an apology, but only measly compensation – 20% off a new player.

He was understandably left feeling very peeved. But if this were to happen to a device he bought now, this ‘remedy’ would not cut the mustard.

Digital content consumer rights

The first thing to point out is that if your device stops working when you upgrade the software that came with the device, the retailer who sold the device is responsible. Not the manufacturer. If it’s software you’ve bought separately that then stops working, it’s the seller of the software that’s responsible. Again, not the manufacturer.

If your digital content is unfit for purpose, of unsatisfactory quality or not as described, you have new rights. These rights differ depending on whether you bought the digital content on its own or in tangible form, such as the software on a phone or smart TV.

Where you buy the digital content on its own, you can ask for a repair or replacement. If this doesn’t fix the problem you’re entitled to a price reduction (up to 100%!).

When it comes to software on a tangible product, you also get the right to reject it in the first 30 days instead of having to ask for a repair or replacement. If you do ask for a repair or replacement and that doesn’t work, in the first six months you could get a full refund. After six months, you could get a deduction.

What digital content is covered?

Anything you download or stream is considered ‘digital content’, including apps, music and ebooks. But how you acquired it is important. Digital content that you paid for, regardless of how you paid, is covered.

Free digital content is not normally covered, although there are two important exceptions:

  1. Any free digital content that is supplied with something you paid for. For example, an app or computer program you need to download in order to watch or listen to a paid-for online streaming service.
  2. Digital content you’d normally have to pay for but you get for free when you buy a product or other digital content. An example of this would be a buy-one-get-one-free offer on a mobile game.

I’ll be the first to say that this isn’t the easiest bit of the new consumer rights to get your head around. But it is the first time that consumers have been given specific legal rights in terms of digital content, so it’s worth reading up on your rights and potentially saving yourself money and time.

Have you ever experienced a problem with downloading digital content or software upgrades? If so, how did you get it resolved? Would you put these new rights to the test if you had a problem now?


This comment was removed at the request of the user

Applying this kind of consumer right is going to be very hard in the case of devices like PCs, i.e. if the owner is allowed to install and use 3rd party software, i.e. software outside the control of the original manufacturer.