Guarantee, warranty and faulty goods issues
When you buy goods or services, they may come with a guarantee or warranty which provides additional protection if things go wrong. Here we explain what a guarantee or warranty is, what are your statutory rights and how to use both to resolve a problem with a faulty product.
Your Statutory Rights
When a product is not in conformity with the contract, you have the right to request the seller to provide remedies such as repair, replacement or refund in the event of non-conformity. These remedies below are enforceable against the seller for at least two years EU-wide. In Ireland, the limitation period to take legal action is six years.
- Your right to redress for faulty goods is the same for new or second-hand goods (bought from a trader)
- If the product is defective, seek remedies from the seller first
- If a fault appears within the first six months, it is presumed to have existed at the time of purchase and it is the seller who must prove otherwise. You do not have to prove it!
- If the fault appears after six months, the burden of proof reverses and you may need to prove that the fault was not the result of normal wear and tear or your own misuse. This may be done by obtaining a report from an independent expert.
- Where there is non-conformity, 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. If the defect is minor, a reduction in the price may also be considered. Remedies for faulty goods must be provided free of charge.
A commercial guarantee or warranty is in addition to your statutory rights, not instead of them.
Guarantees and Warranties
A guarantee or warranty is an undertaking by a seller or producer to the consumer to reimburse the price paid, or to replace, repair, or proceed – during the period specified – in the manner set out in the relevant guarantee statement or advertising. These undertakings, even if provided in a voluntary basis, are legally binding on the offerer/guarantor under the applicable terms and conditions. In any case, guarantees/warranties are in addition to, and not a substitution for, your statutory consumer rights against the seller. Accordingly, if a seller offers you a car or computer at a lower price, on a ‘no guarantee’ basis, this only means that you don’t have this additional level of protection; your statutory rights as a consumer are unaffected and cannot be waived by way of contract or agreement between the parties.
If you are considering an extended guarantee/warranty/cover, or intend to make a claim pursuant to same, do check the applicable terms and conditions to find out exactly what is covered, i.e. all parts or just specific parts are covered. The guarantee must state its content in simple and understandable terms and indicate the conditions for claiming under it, e.g. how long it lasts and where it applies, and the name and address of the guarantor. At the consumer’s request, the guarantee shall be made available in writing or another durable medium.
Guarantee vs Warranty
Guarantees and warranties are written statements provided by either the seller or the manufacturer agreeing to undertake certain actions if it turns out there is a problem with the product or service. These differ from statutory rights in that the terms are largely set by the seller or manufacturer. They provide additional protection and do not replace your statutory rights.
A guarantee is an agreement from the manufacturer confirming that they will repair or replace an item if something goes wrong within a certain amount of time after you buy it. Guarantees are usually offered free by the manufacturer.
A warranty is an extra optional protection offered at additional cost, and may be offered by the retailer of the product. It is similar to an insurance policy and covers the product beyond the manufacturer’s guarantee period.
A guarantee/warranty should be provided in a durable and accessible format (for example, in hard copy or email) and include the following information:
- What exactly is covered
- The exact duration of the cover
- Geographical restrictions, if any
- Who is responsible for dealing with the guarantee/warranty (seller/retailer, manufacturer or a third-party)
- Procedure to register the guarantee/warranty, if required for activation
- Procedure for making a claim
Even if your guarantee/warranty has expired, or the problem is not covered, you may still be able to avail of your statutory rights to seek a remedy.
If there is a problem, you should always contact the seller first to report the issue. Your contract is with the seller who sold you the product and under consumer legislation and it is up to them to put things right. They may liaise further with their suppliers or the manufacturer to resolve the matter.
Note that even if you have additional protection under a guarantee or warranty, you should still report the issue to the seller first. Otherwise, if the manufacturer attempts repairs or replaces the item and the problem persists, you may no longer have grounds for a claim against the seller.
Check out our handy infographic below showing the difference between statutory rights and guarantees/warranties.
Commercial Warranty FAQ
Who is responsible for application of the warranty?
The party offering the warranty, be it the seller, the producer or a third party guarantor. Always refer to the documentation provided.
On average, how long is a commercial warranty?
1 to 5 years, but in most cases 2 years as with the legal guarantee. More expensive goods usually have a longer warranty which often applies to specific parts of the product.
Is it free of charge?
Not necessarily. The trader can fix the conditions, so it can be free of charge or offered against payment.
Does it have to be confirmed in writing?
The seller has to provide the commercial warranty in a written document or in a durable and accessible format.
What information is required?
Content of the warranty, all essential elements such as duration, price and geographical coverage, details of the company offering it and a reminder of the legal guarantee.
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