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Supply of digital content: what to do if things go wrong
In the guide
This guidance is for England, Scotland & Wales
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives you important rights when you make a contract with a trader for the supply of goods, services and digital content.
Complaining about digital content may not be as straight-forward as complaining about goods and services. Know your rights and find out before you buy about what you can do if things go wrong.
This guide gives you an overview of the key rights you have when a trader supplies digital content to you and a clear direction to follow when you want to complain.
Supply of digital content - an overview of your rights
Before you contact the trader with a complaint about the digital content that has been supplied to you, know your rights and make sure you have a clear understanding of what you are entitled to and when you are entitled to it. The chart below gives you an at-a-glance view of your key rights and remedies when digital content is not of satisfactory quality, not fit for a particular purpose and not as described.
However, if you need it, the 'Supply of digital content - your consumer rights' guide gives more in-depth information.
Follow the arrows of the same colour to find out which key remedy applies to which key right.
What to do if things go wrong
In most cases you will be satisfied with the digital content that has been supplied to you and will have no need to complain to the trader, but in the event of a problem follow the steps below:
- most digital content will be supplied 'at a distance', which means without face-to-face contact with the trader. The trader must give you certain important information about the digital content: the total price, payment arrangements, how the digital content will be delivered, their name and contact details, after-sales information, information on the right to cancel (including when this right is lost) and details of any complaints handling policy they may have. Most information will be prominently displayed but you may find some of the information in 'terms and conditions', 'FAQs' or 'settings'. The information must be sent to you in writing (usually by email); keep this in a safe place
- act as soon as you become aware there is a problem with the digital content
- make sure you have followed the installation instructions carefully
- the trader must provide, where applicable, pre-contract information on the digital content's functionality and compatibility. Check to see if you were given this information
- make a note of why you believe the digital content is faulty in case you miss out some important details
- keep a record of events: when you complained, to whom, what they said they could do and by when
- if relevant, take a screen print on your PC or laptop or use another device to take a video of the screen as evidence of the problem
- keep copies of emails sent and received
- be prepared to be asked questions about your device; the trader may check if the digital content is compatible
- you may have a number of ways to contact the trader. Schedule a telephone call from the trader to you, use web chat or send an email
- some traders will generate a draft customer support email for you that has some of your device details / identification automatically included
- if the digital content fails to download or stream, try it again. If this fails then contact 'customer support' for assistance
- if the digital content successfully downloads or streams but is not of satisfactory quality, not fit for purpose or not as described, make a note of the problem and check it against the advertised product
- ask for a repair (to put the problem right) or replacement in the first instance
- if a repair or replacement does not work, then contact the trader for a refund or reduction in price
- if you did not did not get sufficient online access to the digital content - for example, if the film you streamed was removed before you viewed it in full, then make a note of the time you had to view it and complain to the trader
- if you believe the digital content - this applies to free digital content as well as paid for - has damaged your device or other digital content, write down details of the problem and your financial loss and contact the trader setting out your claim for reimbursement
- watch out for automatic renewal of digital subscriptions. Check the terms and conditions to find out how to turn off auto-renew. If it is not apparent, report it to the trader's customer support service
- take note that a minor defect in complex digital content may not count as a fault, unless it affects functionality - it depends on various circumstances including the type of digital content, reasonable expectations and the price you paid
- if the trader does not have the legal right to supply the digital content, ask for a full refund
- if you paid for the digital content using finance arranged by the trader or if you paid using your credit card and it cost more than £100 but less than £30,000, the finance / credit card provider is as responsible as the trader if the digital content is faulty. Write to or email the finance / credit card provider with details of your complaint. The 'Supply of digital content - your consumer rights' guide gives more information
- if you use a debit card to buy the digital content or if you use a credit card and the price of the content is less that £100 (your rights under the Consumer Credit Act 1974 would not apply) you may be able to take advantage of the chargeback scheme. Chargeback is the term used by card providers for reclaiming a card payment from the trader's bank. If you can provide evidence of a breach of contract (the content was not supplied for example) you can ask your card provider to attempt to recover the payment. Check with your card provider as to how the scheme rules apply to your card, whether internet transactions are covered and what the time limit is for making a claim
- consider using alternative dispute resolution as a way to resolve your complaint without going to court. As a last resort, you can take legal action against the trader in court. See 'Thinking of suing in court?' for more information on these options
Last reviewed / updated: June 2016
This information is intended for guidance; only the courts can give an authoritative interpretation of the law.
The guide's 'Key legislation' links may only show the original version of the legislation, although some amending legislation is linked to separately where it is directly related to the content of a guide. Information on amendments to UK legislation can be found on each link's 'More Resources' tab; amendments to EU legislation are usually incorporated into the text.
For further information please contact the Citizens Advice consumer service, which provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. Visit the Citizens Advice website (opens in a new window) or call the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 040506.
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