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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 10:23 GMT
Extended warranty rules delayed
Opening Christmas presents
This year's Christmas gifts will miss out on new protections
New rules giving consumers the right to cancel extended warranties have been delayed, the government has said.

New controls on the 900m worth of extended warranties sold each year were due to come into force on 1 December.

The changes will now be delayed until April at the earliest, giving retailers a Christmas reprieve.

The changes are being introduced following a damming Competition Commission inquiry, which branded them "unfair and uncompetitive."

'Too expensive'

Tim Young, from the consumer organisation Which?, criticised the delay, announced by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

"Retailers have been ripping off their customers through overpriced warranties for far too long already," he said.

1994: OFT study into extended warranties recommends voluntary code of conduct
1996: Another OFT investigation
May 2001: OFT found code was not working and consumer survey confirmed market was not pro-consumer
July 2002: OFT referred the market for extended warranties to the Competition Commission

"The DTI's decision to delay legislation until after the busiest shopping period of the year means it's the retailers who'll be celebrating this Christmas - yet again."

The government is proposing a number of measures to protect consumers from unfair selling.

Among the most far-reaching reforms suggested is the right for consumers to have 45 days to cancel their extended warranty and receive a full refund.

Retailers will also be required to offer the extended warranty on the same terms for 30 days if the consumer chooses not to buy at the point of sale.

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