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Guarantees in consumer electronics

In autumn 2014, consumer protection authorities checked in total 437 websites selling consumer electronics (e.g. mobile phones, computers, cameras, or TVs). 54% (235) of these websites were found to be non-compliant with EU consumer law regarding information obligations about the statutory and commercial guarantees.

They contacted subsequently the companies which run the non-compliant websites in order to bring then in line with EU consumer law. To date (June 2015), 157 websites have been corrected and 78 websites are subject to on-going enforcement actions.

National authorities checked whether online traders of consumer electronic goods disclosed in adequate manner mandatory information on the free of charge statutory guarantee as well as, when applicable, on commercial guarantees. Authorities also checked whether websites provided email addresses to which questions and complaints could be submitted, and whether the websites made terms and conditions available before the purchase.

The main problems found were:

  • The lack of a reminder of the existence of the legal guarantee of conformity for goods was found in 174 websites.

  • Misleading presentation of commercial guarantees was found in 87 websites, in relation to their duration, territorial scope, name and address of the guarantor.

  • In 76 websites it was not clearly stated in the commercial guarantee that the consumer has rights under the legal guarantee and that those rights are not affected by the commercial guarantee.

  • 52 websites contained incomplete or misleading information about the trader’s name, geographical or email addresses.

Tips for consumers concerning guarantees - what to check before and after buying goods online

  1. Know and use your rights! You have the right to have defective goods repaired or replaced within two years of purchase throughout the European Union. If repair or replacement is not possible you are entitled to a refund or a price reduction (in some countries there is a free choice between these remedies). This legal guarantee is mandatory and the seller cannot claim otherwise or reduce its duration. You may have additional rights depending on the laws of your country.

  2. Does the website contain a reminder about the existence of the legal guarantee? Under EU law, before entering into the contract, the seller has to inform you in a clear and comprehensible manner about the existence of the legal guarantee of a minimum of two years.

  3. Before buying a commercial guarantee, check whether it really adds anything to the protection already offered to you by law.

  4. In case a commercial guarantee is included in the price of the product or you decide to buy it in addition, do you have all the information you need about it? Check who offers the guarantee (name and contact details of the guarantor) and what the duration and starting point of the commercial guarantee is. Verify what services are offered under it and what defects and situations are covered (does it for example cover accidental damage)? If you purchase cross border, are there any geographical restrictions to coverage under the commercial guarantee?

  5. Can you contact the trader? Make sure that the trader provides his name, geographical and e-mail address.

  6. Are the rest of the contract terms clear and comprehensible? You should be able to consult all applicable terms and conditions before the purchase.

  7. Do you have a problem? Report it immediately to the contacts indicated to you (write to the trader who sold you the goods). In case of a problem with a trader in another Member State you can report it to your local European Consumer Center

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