Getting Help and Helping Yourself

What Does Being a Consumer Mean?

We all become consumers when we buy or hire items in a private capacity for our personal use. Every time we purchase goods or services, whether in a shop or over the phone, we form a consumer contract, even if nothing is put in writing.

A Business to Business Contract is made between two parties who are acting in the course of a business.

According to OFT Guidance on the 2002 Enterprise Act, ‘a consumer is an individual who receives, or seeks to receive, goods or services from a supplier. The supplier must be acting in the course of a business, but does not need to have a place of business in the UK. So a consumer must be an individual who is not acting in the course of a business, although the definition does extend to individuals who are setting up businesses but have not yet begun to trade.’

People setting up a business are included so those who are taken in by scam homeworking schemes and vanity publishers are covered by consumer legislation, which is stronger that that provided to businesses.

Consumers make contracts on a daily basis, often without realising it – after all, buying a packet of crisps is making a contract to be supplied with those goods and for those goods to be of a certain quality, in return for a particular amount of cash. The relevance of the contract often only becomes an issue when something goes wrong. Fortunately, we in the UK have consumer protection legislation that gives us what we commonly refer to as Consumer Rights.

For further information on your consumer rights please contact Citizens Advice Consumer Service, which is a national helpline offering clear, practical consumer advice and information, working in partnership with the Office of Fair Trading and Devon, Somerset & Torbay Trading Standards. Citizens Advice Consumer Service can be contacted on – 03454 04 05 06.

Please visit our Consumer Advice pages to see our Advice Leaflets which provide lots more practical information on your rights as a Consumer!