ECC Ireland calls on all traders to comply with obligations and remember that guarantees / warranties are in addition to consumers’ statutory rights
Dublin, 13th March – With World Consumer Rights Day [Thursday, 15th March 2018] approaching, the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland is calling on traders to ensure that staff are aware of EU consumers’ entitlements to certain remedies, such as repair and replacement, when a product is faulty and that any extra protections provided by guarantees / warranties are in addition to, not instead of, statutory rights.
The advisory comes after reports to ECC Ireland, and other centres throughout the European Consumer Centre Network (ECC-Net), that some traders have provided wrong or misleading information in relation to consumers’ rights when a good is faulty and/or relied solely on the manufacturer’s guarantee/warranty.
ECC Ireland spokesperson Martina Nee, explained: ‘Problems with the functioning of a product do occur and obviously this is not necessarily the fault of the trader who sold it. However, what is within the trader’s control is to ensure that it is abiding by obligations under EU and national consumer legislation and that staff provide consumers with the correct information when a fault is reported to them. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
On a regular basis we hear reports where consumers are wrongly led to believe things like, if manufacturer guarantees / warranties are out of date or do not cover a particular issue then that’s it, the consumer is not entitled to anything else or doesn’t have any other rights. In other cases, staff may have informed consumers that it’s not up to the trader who sold the good to provide remedies and to take the matter up directly with the manufacturer.
Traders, as well as consumers, need to be aware that the sales contract is with the seller and so it is up to them to provide redress. EU consumer legislation has provided a sort of ‘legal guarantee’ that entitles consumers across Europe to seek this redress when a good is faulty for a period of two years. Under Irish law, the limitation period is actually six years. If a fault arises within the first six months of purchase, it is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery and it is up to the seller to prove otherwise or provide remedies. After six months, the consumer may be requested to show that the lack of conformity (e.g. a hidden defect) already existed at the time of delivery. The seller should first offer a repair or replacement (liaising with the manufacturer if necessary) and provide this free of charge. If this is not possible or fails to correct the problem, then the consumer may request a refund.’
Notes to Editor
Case studies highlighting the need for awareness of traders’ obligations:
- An Irish consumer purchased a second-hand car from a dealer in the UK. He tested the car and asked for a further discount because of a slight bend on the left side of the car. When he brought the car back to Dublin he noticed signs of oil on the driveway and brought it to his local garage. The mechanic advised him to return the car as there were a lot of issues with the vehicle which would cost approximately €300 to repair. The consumer contacted the company outlined under the warranty, but they refused to repair it because he got a further discount. He also had issues getting redress from the dealer who sold the car who claimed that if it’s not covered by the warranty then there was nothing further they could do.
- An Irish consumer purchased a refurbished phone from a UK based trader for €161.49 in August 2016. The phone broke down in April 2017 and so the consumer complained to the trader. However, the trader said that the phone was out of warranty and refused to fix it. As the fault was internal – the phone shut down and wouldn’t turn on – it was not as result of misuse. The trader continued to state that as the warranty was only a year old there was nothing further they could do. This is despite the fact that consumers have a statutory right under EU legislation and can seek remedies such as repair/replacement for a minimum of two years while national rules in the UK (where the phone was purchased) and Ireland can extend this period to six years.
- A consumer had a problem with components of a computer bought from a German online retailer. Initially, he contacted the manufacturer as the product was still within warranty and was told that they would reissue refurbished components, but he first needed to contact the retailer to initiate this process. After contacting the retailer, he was told to return the components to them and that postage would be refunded. The consumer did just that, making it clear that he also wanted a repair/replacement. He was refunded the postage, however the retailer refused to send the components on to the manufacturer for repair/replacement and instead returned the items while also refusing to give a refund (even partial).
ECC Ireland has created an infographic to highlight some of the differences between consumers’ statutory rights when good are faulty and extra protections provided by guarantees / warranties.
ECC Ireland is part of the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC-Net), which covers 30 countries (all EU countries plus Norway and Iceland), and offers a free and confidential information and advice service to the public on their rights as consumers, assisting consumers with cross-border disputes. ECC Ireland is co-financed by the European Commission and the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
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