Ageism in consumer products and services

older lady smiling out in the town 

Generally speaking, nobody should be treated differently by a trader or organisation because of their age. If you think you may have been discriminated against, there are steps you can take to address this. 

This page focuses on your rights as a consumer and what to do if you feel that you have been treated badly or differently by an organisation because of your age.  Here are a few useful points to consider if you think this may have happened to you.

  • The first thing to consider is the outcome you want to reach before you take any action. Depending on the circumstances, this can range from an apology all the way up to legal action.
  • It is always useful to complain directly to the organisation/service itself to make them aware of the issue. It may be that the problem could be resolved at this initial stage.
  • Gather as much evidence as possible. Depending on the circumstances, this may be paperwork, photographic evidence or witness statements to back up your claim. It may also be useful to keep a diary of your experience if the problem is on-going.

The right not to be discriminated against is just one of your consumer rights. If you think that your experience of a service was unfair rather than discriminatory under the law, phone the Citizens Advice Consumer service for specialist advice.

The Citizens Advice Consumer service provides free, confidential and impartial advice on consumer issues. It can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06 or you can email your enquiry via its website.

Age Discrimination and the law

When the Equality Act was created in 2010, rights for people who experience discrimination were extended and became stronger. This meant that the law changed in order to protect more people from being treated differently, simply because of who they are.

It may be difficult to prove that you have experienced ‘unlawful’ discrimination as there are very specific rules surrounding this.  For this reason we would suggest that you seek specialist advice before you consult a solicitor.  This places you in the best position to get an indication at the initial stages whether your experience of a service could be considered as an 'unlawful' case of discrimination or not.

If you would like to speak to someone to get specialist advice, contact the Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS) discrimination helpline - 0808 800 0082.  This is a helpline for people who suspect they have been discriminated against and are looking for specialist advice.  Usually this is done via a referral from an advice service (such as a Citizens Advice Bureau) who can contact the service on your behalf.  However, you can contact them directly if you wish.

Further information

The Westminster government Equality Office has published guidance entitled Banning Age Discrimination in Service: An overview for service providers and customers.  This gives a clear overview of the main legal aspects covered by the Equality Act 2010 in relation to age-based rules and practices.

Download Banning Age Discrimination in Services publication

The Equality and Human Rights Commission also has useful information on their website covering this topic. 



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Silver Line Scotland:
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Useful websites

  • OFCOM (Office of Communication) deal with complaints regarding radio and television advertising.

  • ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) is the UK's indpendent regulator for advertising across all media, including print, internet, television and radio.

  • Consumer Direct is a free telephone and online information service funded by the Office of Fair Trading.

    Consumer Direct
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