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Dublin, 19th March 2015 – The European Consumer Centre in Ireland is issuing an advisory on warranties and statutory rights for consumers in Ireland. The advisory comes as a new report by the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net) found that these terms can often be confused, leaving consumers unsure as to their rights in a given situation.

 

Statutory rights

Statutory rights are provided for by legislation (Irish law and EU law as transposed in Ireland). These act as a kind of “legal guarantee”, entitling consumers to seek redress where an item is faulty. Consumers may rely on their statutory rights regardless of whether an item has a warranty or not.

  • Under Irish law, consumers have up to six years to seek redress for faulty or defective items (both new and second-hand).
  • If the product is defective, the seller is generally responsible for providing redress.
  • If a fault arises within six months of purchase, it is presumed to have existed at the time of purchase. For this reason, the consumer should not have to provide proof of the defect.
  • If the fault arises more than six months after purchase, the seller may request that the consumer prove the fault did not arise as a result of misuse – for instance, by obtaining a report from an independent expert.
  • Where an item is faulty, the seller may first offer a repair or replacement item. If this is not possible or fails to correct the problem, a refund may then be provided. Remedies for faulty goods must be provided free of charge.

 

Warranties

Warranties, or guarantees as they may also be known, are provided by the seller or manufacturer of an item. These differ from statutory rights in that the terms are largely set by the seller or manufacturer itself. It is important to note that warranties exist in addition to consumers’ statutory rights but do not replace them. If, for instance, a particular fault with the product is not covered by a warranty, the consumer may still rely on his or her statutory rights to seek a remedy.

  • Information on the warranty should be provided in a written document or in a durable and accessible format. The exact duration, geographical coverage, and details of the party offering the warranty must be clearly specified.
  • The duration of warranties varies. They may cover a short period of a few months or extend for several years. In general, more expensive items tend to have longer warranty periods.
  • Warranties may be offered free of charge or against payment.
  • The party offering the warranty is responsible for applying it – this may be the seller, manufacturer, or a third party.
  • Warranties may not cover all aspects of the good. For example, a warranty on a tablet may cover defects or faults with the hardware (such as the battery or casing) but not necessarily problems with the software.

If a fault develops in a product, consumers are advised to contact the seller first to report the issue. If there is a manufacturer or seller’s warranty on the product, read the warranty document carefully to see whether this particular fault is covered. If not, it may still be possible to rely on statutory rights to seek a remedy. If in doubt, contact our office for further advice.

 

Background

A new ECC-Net report on commercial warranties across Europe has found that information on warranties and consumers’ statutory rights is often unclear in product offers. The researchers studied 342 offers and surveyed 543 consumers in preparing the report, which examines the availability and application of warranties across Europe.

Some of its key findings are –

  • In 71% of offers studied, information on consumers’ statutory rights was deemed unsatisfactory.
  • 67% of offers did not adequately inform consumers on how to return a defective item to the seller.
  • Of those products which offered a warranty, 40% did not provide clear information on who was actually providing the warranty.
  • 32% of warranties checked were offered against payment.
  • Many sellers confused warranties with statutory rights, leading consumers to wrongly assume that only the warranty applied to their purchase and that they could not rely on their statutory rights in the event of a problem.

 

As part of the report, ECC-Net has prepared a useful checklist for consumers with advice on what to look out for when considering a warranty. In general, consumers are advised to check its duration, geographical scope, and the procedure for making a complaint. It is also advisable to check what kind of faults are provided for and what costs are covered.

The full report can be accessed here. A summary version is also available.

 

For further advice and assistance, contact ECC Ireland on (01) 8797 620.

 

For more information/media queries, please contact Grace Duffy on (01) 8797 641 or at gduffy@eccireland.ie.

ECC Ireland can also be found on Twitter.