Why is this important?
What you can do about discrimination when you buy goods and services
When you buy goods or services, the law gives certain people the right not to be treated unfairly compared with other people. The law which gives you this right is called the Equality Act 2010. If you’re treated unfairly, this is called discrimination and you may be able to do something about it.
This page tells you about the things you may be able to do if you experience discrimination when you buy goods and services.
The law that covers discrimination is called the Equality Act 2010.
Before you decide what to do about a discrimination problem, you need to be reasonably sure that discrimination has taken place – check if you are someone mustn’t be discriminated against and check the different sorts of discrimination.
In some situations, you’ll have to explore the problem further before deciding what to do. You might need help to do this.
Remember that protection against discrimination is in addition to your other consumer rights. If you’ve been treated unfairly but it doesn’t count as discrimination, there may be other ways of sorting out the problem. See our consumer pages for other ways of sorting out the problem.
Check whether discrimination has happened
Before you decide what to do, you need to be reasonably sure that discrimination has taken place, according to the law. Remember that in some cases, you can do something about discrimination even if it didn’t happen directly to you. In some situations, you’ll need to explore the problem further before you can be reasonably sure that discrimination has happened.
Make sure you’ve checked:
- whether you’re someone who mustn’t be discriminated against
- that the trader has a duty not to discriminate against you
- the trader’s behaviour counts as discrimination.
If the treatment doesn’t count as discrimination under the law, you may still have been treated badly or unfairly and you may be able to do something about that. But your options won’t be the same.
Work out what outcome you want
Before you work out what you can do about discrimination, you’ll need to think about the outcomes you want. This is because not everything you can do will have the same outcome. You might want:
- the discrimination against you to stop – for example, you want to be charged the same for a service as someone else, not more
- an apology from the trader
- the trader to look again at a decision they’ve already taken
- a change in the trader’s policy
- staff training in discrimination issues
- the member of staff responsible to be sacked
- money for financial losses or compensation, for example, for stress or injury to feelings.
A trader may agree to what you want but it may take a court order to force them to do something.
What can you do to sort out a problem?
Here is a list of the things you might be able to do to sort out a discrimination problem:
- complain informally or formally
- report the trader, for example, to their trade association or professional body
- go to mediation
- publicise your case through the media
- take court action. There are strict time limits for taking court action so this is an option only if you’re within the time limit. If you go to court and you lose the case, you may have to pay the legal costs of the trader which could be high.
In many cases, a mix of approaches will achieve the best outcome for you.
Other useful information
The website of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has useful information about discrimination. Go to www.equalityhumanrights.com.
If you have experienced discrimination, you can also get help from the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) discrimination helpline.