Updated : 08/09/2015
Whether you bought the goods in a shop or online, under EU rules you always have the right to a minimum two-year guarantee period at no cost.
This 2-year guarantee is only your minimum right and national rules in your country may give you extra protection. Remember that any deviation from EU rules must always be to the consumer's benefit.
If an item you bought anywhere in the EU turns out to be faulty or does not look or work as advertised, the seller must repair or replace it free of charge or give you a full refund or reduction in price. In some EU countries you will be offered the choice between all four remedies from the outset. Otherwise you will be able to ask for a full or partial refund only when it is not possible or convenient to repair or replace the item.
And bear in mind that you might not be entitled to a refund if the problem is minor, such as a scratch on a CD case.
The two-year guarantee period starts as soon as you receive your goods. In some EU countries you must inform the seller of the fault within two months of discovering it otherwise you may lose your right to the guarantee.
Within six months from receipt of the goods, you just need to show the trader that they are faulty or not as advertised. But, after six months in most EU countries you also need to prove yourself that the defect already existed on receipt of the goods, for example, by showing that the defect is due to the poor quality of materials used.
The trader is always liable for remedying the defect and in some EU countries you also have the right to request a remedy from the producer.
The European Consumer Centre in your country can give you more detailed information about your additional rights under national law and can help if you have a problem with goods you bought in or from another EU country.
Mirek ordered a laptop, which appeared to work well. However, more than a year after buying it, he discovered that it had less memory than it was supposed to have.
Although this problem had not been obvious to him immediately, and the laptop was still functional, it nonetheless did not conform to what was advertised or agreed when he bought it. Mirek was therefore able to obtain a partial refund from the shop.
Shops or producers will often offer you an additional commercial guarantee (also referred to as a warranty), either included in the product price or at an extra cost. This can give you better protection but can never replace or reduce the minimum two-year guarantee, which you always have.
Similarly, if a shop sells you a new product more cheaply on a ‘no guarantee' basis, this only means that you don't have any additional protection. You always have the right to a two-year guarantee free of charge if the product turns out to be faulty or not as advertised.
Carla bought a hairdryer with a six-month seller's guarantee.
When it broke after eight months, she took it back to the shop. The shop assistant told her that her guarantee had run out, and that she was not entitled to a refund.
Carla rightly pointed out that she had a full two-year guarantee free of charge under EU consumer protection law, and that the seller's six-month guarantee only offered additional services.
Second–hand goods that you buy from a trader are also covered by the minimum two-year guarantee. However, goods bought from private individuals on a non-professional basis are not covered.
In some EU countries, in the case of second-hand goods, the buyer and seller can agree to a guarantee period of less than two years, but no shorter than one year. This should be made clear to you at the time of purchase.
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In this case, the 28 EU member states + Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway