2 year EU-wide warranties for buyers

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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.

12 Responses

  1. Just curious but is there any information at all about how often buyers are able to successfully get a repair in the 6 month to 6 years time frame? Seems kind of hard to prove something was inherently faulty when it has been in your own hands that long unless the manufacturer or news organization publicly stated the fault (like in a recall, etc).

  2. #3 It really depends on what you call a “warranty”. Basically if it’s an “inherent fault” either in design or in manufacture then you’re covered for up to six years already in the UK (in excess of the EU two years)… but after the first six months it’s up to you, the consumer, to prove that the product had an inherent fault when you purchased it. That’s the difficult part.

    It could be something as basic as a single electrical component that’s failed before it’s expected life span. Most components are tested to determine a Mean Time Before Failure (MTFB) and the end product will have an expected life span which should be well under the MTFB of any single component. However the MTFB is simply an average and whilst some components may last well after, by definition some will fail before (and in a few cases well before) the MTFB. How you prove that the product had a component which should have lasted longer is nigh on impossible.

    A different case is when people think a “warranty” as per the Sale of Goods Act means they can run a product 24/7 when in “normal use” it might be expected to be used much less frequently. Others may use an item for uses or with other equipment for which it wasn’t originally intended. Then there’s possible damage by electrical surges etc. That’s wear and tear or accidental damage which is not covered but almost impossible for either the consumer or the supplier to prove either way.

  3. As an aside I always find it interesting to hear of some old device which is still working well after any reasonable expectation of it’s expected life span. Have to admit only last year I threw out a TV which was in perfect working order but only capable of receiving BBC1 & 2, ITV and CH 4. No way to upgrade it to digital, not even a SCART lead, and in reality I’d guess very few similar sets have survived that long without the tube blowing.

    No one complains when a product lasts longer than it’s expected life span though 😀

  4. i bought a DVD player for my mum’s birthday last year- she has never used it. I tried to play a DVD for her a few weeks ago and it doesn’t even turn on –
    It is from Teknika (tesco’s own electrical brand)
    do you think i should take it back to the store, as I appear to be covered by the 2yr EU rule or the 6 yr SOGA rule
    please can you email me back

  5. I’d take it back to your local Tesco and explain that it’s not been used until now and is faulty. Their customer service should be able to take it from there. You have to bear in mind that not *every* retailer will shirk their responsibilities but also bear in mind that if they offer a like for like exchange (and I’m not saying that they will) that prices have fallen so you may get a much cheaper model in exchange if that’s the route they choose to take.

  6. #5 It’s not often that happens though is it? LOL

    Most big companies, electrical especially, engineer their products to fail after a certain duration. Forcing the consumer to buy again. Although, that’s having less of an impact these days, because technology is moving forward so fast, it’s difficult to keep up.

    I’m still using a 5 year old ipod, battery doesn’t last long, but as long is it’s plugged in to my cigarette lighter who cars 😉

  7. #8 I can remember the days when car mileometers only went up to 99999.99 because no one was ever going to drive a hundred thousand miles! These days if a car doesn’t last that long it probably ended it’s life in an accident!

  8. #6 Go direct to the manufacturer, the usual gimps that work on the customer service desk in Tescos will only quote from their little training manaul.

  9. I purchased a HP laptop from PC World for my son for Christmas 2007.Its not been used very much but I am informed that a printed circuit board has failed and will cost approx £150 to repair. Should a £400 PC last longer than 17 months.? Do you think I am covered by the EU 2year directive ?

  10. It’s not so much about if the product “should” last, it’s more to do with why it has failed.

    In laptops the two main faults are the screen and the PCB/mainboard. You would need to show that there is either a design fault which caused your issue or it was manufactured incorrectly.

    The only realistic way you can prove this is if your fault is a “known” issue, i.e lots of people are reporting the same issue. However there may be multiple causes for the same fault.

    A simple answer to your question would be no, you stand little chance of getting this repaired for free, but always worth pushing the manufacturer.


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