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Consumer Protection Rights UK

The law provides an amount of consumer protection and rights when you buy goods and services. This help guide explains who to contact to get the best customer protection advice.

CONSUMER RIGHTS: There are steps you can take if things go wrong or you get treated ‘unfairly’ in relation to:

  • Counterfeit goods
  • Credit cards
  • Faulty goods
  • Poor service
  • Problems with contracts
  • Problems with builders
  • Rogue traders
  • Store cards

As a client or a purchaser, you can get expert help from Citizens Advice on your rights. Their staff can help you to make a complaint or deal with Trading Standards.

The Citizens Advice Bureaux can refer a complaint to the local Trading Standards officers. In most cases, they will then investigate the problem or issue on your behalf.

Citizens Advice National Phone Service
Adviceline (England): 08001448848
Advicelink (Wales): 0800 702 2020
Information on call charges.

Which? is a company famed for reviewing products and services in the United Kingdom. They also help consumers make the best purchase decisions for their particular needs.

Which? Consumers’ Association

The information and advice from the ‘Which? Consumers’ Association’ helps you make complaints, and get refunds or repairs.

Note: Companies take more notice of legal phrases when you complain. Their legal experts have created letter templates for complaints and compensation to help you get a successful result.

Making a Complaint to an Ombudsman

The Ombudsman Association is a body that promotes independent complaint resolution. So, an ombudsman can investigate complaints about different organisations for free.

As a rule, they will try to help you resolve a complaint without having to go to court. Even so, there are many different ombudsmen who adjudicate for different industries.

Note: Contact the ‘Ombudsman Association’ to find the most appropriate ombudsman for your type of complaint.

Contact Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline

Citizens Advice (England and Wales)
Telephone: 0808 223 1133
Welsh language: 0808 223 1144
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Contact Consumer Advice Scotland

Telephone: 0808 164 6000
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Energy Advice Scotland
Telephone: 08081968660
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Postal Advice Scotland
Telephone: 08081968660
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Consumerline in Northern Ireland

You can get expert advice about scams and your consumer rights from Consumerline in Northern Ireland. You can also make a complaint about a trader or report a fraud.

Telephone: 0300 123 6262
Monday to Thursday: 9am to 5pm
Friday: 9am to 4pm

Buying from an EU Country

The UK European Consumer Centre can help with problems if you buy from another EU country. They also offer free consumer advice that can help you stay out of trouble when traveling in Europe.

UK European Consumer Centre
Email Address: [email protected]
Telephone Number: +44(0)1268 886 690
Lines open: 9am – 5pm

Note: The Citizens Advice consumer service can inform you more about your rights and offer advice about how to make a complaint (e.g. your energy supply, the postal service).

Complain about a Financial Service or Product

As a rule, you should always follow the complaints procedure of the company – in the first instance. If you fail to get a satisfactory response you can usually take your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

It is best to get a copy of the company complaints procedure. As a rule, it will inform you how to complain and how the company will deal with a complaint.

They should respond to you within eight (8) weeks. If not, or you are unhappy with their response, you can then complain to an independent complaints service. In most cases, it will be the Financial Ombudsman Service.

The Financial Ombudsman Service
Exchange Tower
London E14 9SR

Telephone: 0300 123 9 123
Monday to Friday: 8am to 8pm
Saturday: 9am to 1pm
Cost of making phone calls.

The Money Advice Service

Note: The MoneyHelper Service offers free, independent help about anything to do with money (e.g. managing a debt). They also give advice on making complaints and the time limits for complaining to the ombudsman.

Complain about a Legal Adviser

In general you should follow the complaints procedure of your legal adviser. An alternative would be to contact the Legal Ombudsman.

It is best to get a copy of the legal adviser’s complaints procedure. As a rule, it will inform you how to complain and how they will deal with a complaint.

They should respond to you within eight (8) weeks. If not, or you are unhappy with their response, you can then complain to the Legal Ombudsman.

Legal Ombudsman
PO Box 6806
Wolverhampton WV1 9WJ

Telephone: 0300 123 9 123
Monday to Friday: 9am to 5pm

Note: The rules to complain about a solicitor or advocate in Scotland are different to those in England and Wales.

How to Report a Problem with a Medicine

Anyone can report a problem, or suspected problem, with a medicine or a medical device. You should use the Yellow Card Scheme without delay to report an ‘adverse incident’ if:

  • A faulty device interrupts the treatment of a patient.
  • A medicine causes any kind of side effects.
  • A medicine fails to work properly or is of poor quality.
  • A medical device causes someone to receive the wrong diagnosis.
  • Someone gets injured (or almost injured) by a medical device. This could be due to unclear labelling (or instructions of use) or the item might be broken or misused.
  • You believe a medicine or a medical device to be fake or counterfeit.

Note: The Yellow Card Scheme (MHRA) is for reporting problems with medicines and medical devices – not offering medical advice to patients. Contact a doctor or a pharmacist instead.

Investigating the Problem

Depending on the seriousness, an investigation will take place by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the manufacturer, or a medical specialist. They will record it to help prevent similar incidents with medicines and medical devices in the future.

You would receive a confirmation letter about the report you send in and they will contact you if they need you to provide any extra information.

Advice and Information on Medicines

The MHRA produce a patient information leaflet (PIL) for medicine types that may cause a side effect (e.g. drowsiness, nausea). Check the guidance notes for advice on what to do next.

Note: The Yellow Card scheme on Interactive Drug Analysis Profiles (IDAP) lists reported side effects. The method of reporting a problem with a medical device differs in Scotland, Wales, and in Northern Ireland.

Consumer Protection and Rights in United Kingdom