Business, Innovation and SkillsWritten evidence submitted by the three UK Credit Reference Agencies: Callcredit, Equifax and Experian

We are providing this information as a significant part of our businesses provide services to consumers and we wanted to share our view on an area of the Consumer Rights Bill (the “bill”) which we think could cause consumer detriment.

In our view, the definition of “Digital Content” is extremely broad and could be regarded as catching contracts which would otherwise be treated as service contracts. We acknowledge that the definition in the bill is the same as in the Consumer Rights Directive, but the Directive contains useful context in recital 19 to assist with interpretation (essentially making clear that “Digital Content” covers the kind of content which would ordinarily be understood the term means, such as apps, music and games, which we also note are the kind of content referred to on the Department’s consumer facing website proving consumers with information about the digital content part of the bill). The bill has no such context to give clarity. For example, the definition in the bill might be interpreted to include access to any information (which would be “data” for the purposes of the definition) on a website, if the consumer pays the supplier for access. We do not read recital 19 as including such arrangements.

We believe the lack of clarity will cause confusion for consumers and the businesses they deal with as to the rights consumers have: a consumer may mistakenly believe that he/she has a right to compensation for damage under section 48 of the bill and this could increase the number of disputes brought by consumers. Clarification could be given by making the definition of digital content more specific.

19 August 2013

Prepared 20th December 2013