EU law gives consumers the right to a minimum 2-year guarantee.
But in some countries, national law may require you to provide longer guarantees.
Check country requirements by selecting the European Consumer Centre in the respective country.
Your relationship with your customers doesn't end when they buy your product. Even after delivery, you bear some responsibility towards customers if your product turns out to be faulty.
Independently, as a manufacturer or importer you are also liable for damage caused by a defect in your product.
Faulty — what does it mean?
If you are a retailer, your customers can ask for redress under the 'legal guarantee' provided by EU law — if an item:
- doesn't match the product description, or has different qualities from the model advertised or shown to the client;
You are legally bound by any public statements you make about your products (especially advertisements or on labels).
- is not fit for purpose (either its standard purpose or a specific purpose ordered by the customer - which you accepted);
- doesn't show the quality and performance normal in products of the same type;
- (where installation is required before use) was installed incorrectly (either by you, or by the customer, due to shortcomings in the instructions).
If you inform your customer that the product you are going to sell has quality problems, they cannot then claim redress from you about this particular defect.
Redress — what can your customer claim?
Your customers have the right to ask you to do any of the following — without any charge (for postage, labour, material, etc.):
- repair the product
- replace the product
- reduce the price
- cancel the contract and reimburse them in full.
How does it work?
- Repair or replacement — in most countries, the customer must start by asking for this — which you must do within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the customer.
- Price reduction / full reimbursement
The customer can ask for this if repair/replacement:
- would be too expensive, given the nature of the product/defect;
- would be very inconvenient for the customer;
- cannot be completed by your business within a reasonable time.
in some countries, customers can skip step 1 and ask for this straight away.
* in some countries, the sales contract cannot be cancelled if the fault is minor (e.g. scratch on a CD case).
To see exactly what your obligations are in each country, ask the European Consumer Centre for that country.
Your liability for redress starts on the day of delivery and remains valid for 2 years.
In some EU countries, customers have 2 months to inform you after detecting a problem with your product.
If the problem is detected within 6 months of delivery, your product is deemed to have been faulty at the time of delivery. If it is after 6 months, the consumer needs to show that the problem existed at the moment of delivery.
In some EU countries, if you sell second-hand products, you can agree with your customer on a liability period of less than 2 years — but never less than 1 year.
You are free to give your customers additional guarantees — but these do not affect your customers' basic rights to redress, or the time limits, as described above.
You must not mislead the customer about their legal rights.
What if you are just the distributor — but the producer is at fault?
If your customer returns a faulty product, you too have certain rights as the distributor.
In particular, if the fault is the result of a manufacturing defect, you can seek the same types of redress from the producer as your customer can with you.