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In the UK (and all over the EU) as a consumer, I have strong protection if I buy a product and it was faulty when it was purchased. Even if the fault was not visible, for example if the product lasts only one year because of a faulty component.

Now with modern electronics, it often happens that the manufacturer updates the software in the product long after the product is purchased. How does that work out legally if let's say I purchased a product 18 months ago, it worked fine because it was actually faultless when I purchased it, and the manufacturer updates the software on the product and breaks it?

Normally if it breaks after 18 months I would have rights against the store where I bought. In this case the store is arguably without fault. So who has to fix this, and how do I get it fixed without going to court?

(A recent example is many Bose headphones suddenly not working anymore after a firmware update).

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The Consumer Rights Act 2015 makes provision for consumers to obtain a repair or replacement for an item on which a fault becomes apparant after the consumer has accepted the goods. For six months after purchase, the onus is on the retailer to demonstrate that the fault was not inherent at the time of purchase, while after six months the onus is on the consumer to demonstrate that it was.

You might argue the forced firmware update was an inherent design flaw in the product as sold. Like any goods supplied that stop working for whatever reason during their expected life, the consumer's rights are against the retailer.

The CRA gives consumers no recourse against the manufacturer; their contract (and all liability) is solely with the retailer. But, if the item was fine when they bought it, they have no recourse against the retailer if the fault was not inherent at time of purchase.

An action emedy against the manufacturer in tort might be more possible. If it is inherent in the purchase that the manufacturer will be supplying firmware updates this may create a duty of care for the manufacturer, stopping the device working is direct harm and it seems likely to be negligent to design firmware that does this.

The manufacturer might be subecj to a civil action taken under the Computer Misuse Act and it could well be criminal damage by whoever forced the faulty update.

If the manufacturer offers a guarantee in addition to the consumer's statutory rights, this may provide another avenue for remedy.

Summarised from uk.legal.moderated newsgroup

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