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Problem with an app, software or download

This advice applies to Northern Ireland

You might be entitled to a replacement, repair or part-refund if something’s gone wrong with software, a download or an application you bought on or after 1 October 2015.

You have legal rights if there’s a fault with digital products (or ‘digital content’) such as:

  • games
  • ringtones
  • e-books and online journals
  • in-game purchases on free mobile apps
  • film, music and TV streams or downloads
  • software you’ve downloaded

The fault could be that it’s not compatible with your device (eg phone, tablet or laptop), even though it said it would be.

Make sure the digital product itself is faulty, and it’s not just a problem with your device or internet connection.

If you bought the digital product before 1 October 2015, the law doesn’t give you clear rights. Check your terms and conditions - they might have been emailed to you, otherwise contact the company you bought the digital product from and ask to see them.

Get the problem fixed

Email the company and tell them the product’s faulty. Include screenshots (if you can), and mention the date you bought the product.

What to write

“Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, digital content should be of a satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.

My rights have been breached because the digital content you sold me is faulty. I would like you to fix it within a reasonable time.”

Get a refund

If the company won’t fix the problem or are taking too long, you can ask for a refund. You can still keep the digital product even if you get your money back.

You could try asking for a full refund, but the law doesn’t give you the right to one like it does with faulty goods. How much you’re entitled to depends on things like:

  • how long you’ve had the digital product
  • how much you’ve used it
  • what the problem is

If the fault’s caused a problem with your device

You’re legally entitled to compensation if the fault has caused a problem with your device - for example if you installed a new program on your PC and it’s making your PC crash.

The compensation should make up for the problem caused by the faulty digital product.

Take the following steps:

1. Find out how much it’ll cost to fix the problem - ask a repair shop or try to get a quote online. This will also help you prove it’s the fault that caused the problem.

2. Write to the company you bought the digital product from, with a copy of the quote and an explanation of the problem. Include screenshots and any other evidence you may have that the damage was caused by the faulty digital product. You can mention that you’re entitled to compensation under the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

If the company won’t give you your money back

If you paid by debit or credit card, there’s another way to get your money back. Contact your bank and say you want to use the ‘chargeback’ scheme. Many bank staff don’t know about the scheme, so you may need to talk to a manager.

If you paid any other way, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline - a trained adviser can give you more detailed advice over the phone or by email.

Contact the Consumerline if you're in Northern Ireland.

Next steps

If you’re still not getting anywhere, take the following steps:

1. Ask the company if they’re a member of a trade association. Look on their website or ask them if you can’t see anything. Contact the trade association, explain the situation and see if they can advise you.

2. If that still doesn’t work, ask the company if they’re a member of an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme - it’s a way of solving disagreements without going to court. A third party will mediate to try and reach a solution.

3. If they don’t respond, they’re not a member of an ADR scheme or won’t use ADR, keep a record of the fact that you asked them (and the date). You’ll need this if you end up in court.

4. Choose a Trading Standards-approved ADR scheme yourself to try and solve the problem more informally. It’ll help you later if you end up going to court.

5. Take your case to a small claims court. This is a last resort and can be expensive and time-consuming. You should only do this if the item was particularly expensive and you don’t mind the stress and time of going to court.

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