A newly proposed EC Consumer Rights Directive aims to give consumers across the Europe the same protection as they can expect when buying from within their own country.
Currently only 7% of buyers purchase from another country, concerns include language barriers, higher delivery costs and difficulty in post sales support. Buyers are also concerned about the security of sending money overseas along with the difficulty of establishing the trustworthiness of the seller.
The EU directive, if it comes into force, aims to provide increased consumer protection, but they could actually have the effect of lowering protection in the UK. Proposed is a two year warranty covering goods with inherent faults. In the UK the law already covers buyers for six years under the Sale of Goods Act.
Currently in the UK the buyer can request a free of charge repair or replacement and for the first six months it’s up to the manufacturer to prove that the product wasn’t inherently faulty when supplied. From six months to six years the onus is on the buyer to prove their purchase was manufactured with an inherent fault.
It’s also worth noting that the statutory warranty only covers errors in design or manufacture, it doesn’t cover wear and tear or misuse.
eBay sellers that purchase goods from overseas should be aware, that if the manufacturer isn’t based in the UK, it’s the importer that carries the warranty responsibility. Indeed the buyers first port of call is always with the trader.
The EU directive, if it comes into force, would ensure that all buyers across the EU have a basic level of cover, but it’s likely the UK would keep it’s current six year warranty so it’ll be business as normal for UK sellers.