Complaints and guarantees
Complaints deadlines are one thing, guarantees are another. If a product proves to be defective, the consumer should complain to the seller as soon as possible, notifying him of the nature of the defect and that he or she will not accept the product in its present state.
If a product is defective or if the seller has given misleading information, the consumer is under obligation to give notification of this as soon as possible. The consumer's deadline for submitting a complaint, however, is never less than two months from the date that the defect became apparent.
Notifications of defects may be directed to the seller or to a party that, as agreed with the seller, has undertaken to remedy the defect.
Notifications of defects must state the nature of the defect and that the consumer will not accept the product in its present state. The consumer need not, however, state what claims he or she intends to make with respect to the defect.
The maximum deadline for submitting a complaint about a defect is two years from the date of purchase, unless the product, or parts of it, are assumed to have a substantially longer lifetime than is generally the case. In such cases the deadline is five years. These limits do not apply if:
the seller has, in a statement of guarantee or other contract, undertaken guarantees with respect to defects for a longer period, or
the seller has exhibited gross negligence or acted in a way that is in other respects contrary to honesty and good faith.
Rules on complaints deadlines apply irrespective of whether the goods are new or second-hand. The complaints deadline is bound by law and, in transactions with consumers, the seller may not negotiate a shorter deadline.
A defect that appears within six months from the date that the consumer took delivery of the goods is considered to have been present when the goods were purchased, provided the seller cannot prove otherwise. This does not apply if it is clear that the malfunction or damage has been caused by the handling of the product after purchase. The seller is also responsible for defects that appear at a later date and within the complaint deadline, but caused by something that was present on delivery.
If the seller provides a guarantee, the guarantee must provide the buyer with greater rights than are provided for by law (statutory rights), e.g. a longer complaints period, a statement that the product has particular characteristics or that it may be used in a particular manner. The seller shall inform the consumer of the scope of the guarantee and the conditions set.
If no information is provided on what the guarantee covers, the seller may be expected have to prove, during the entire guarantee period, that the reason for a defect cannot be traced to the seller's default of contract.
Guarantees are binding for the seller, according to the terms stated in the guarantee statement and in the advertising relating to it.
In order to complain about a defect, you must be able to prove the transaction. The simplest method is to show a receipt, although there are other methods as well.
It quite common for the text on cash-register receipts to disappear with time. If the purchase is of great importance, it may be a good idea to make a photocopy of the receipt.
If a product is defective and the defect cannot be traced to the culpability of the consumer or circumstances that relate to the consumer, the consumer may demand that the seller remedy the defect at the seller's expense or demand the delivery of a new item, if this does not cause the seller unreasonable expense or inconvenience.
The seller is not entitled to remedy the same defect or deliver a new product with respect to the same defect more than twice, except in special circumstances.
If a consumer has chosen to demand remedial action, the seller cannot decide to deliver a new product. Instead, the seller must comply with the consumer's choice, unless some circumstance prevents this or it involves unreasonable expense for the seller. In some cases the consumer may demand a discount on the purchase price or a refund (rescinding on the purchase), unless the seller offers remedial action or a new product.
If no defect is found during a search for a defect, the seller may demand payment for any examinations that were necessary to find out whether the product was defective, provided that the consumer has been notified of such fee in advance.