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November 19, 2014

Your rights, Warranties within the UK and the EU

warranty-LED-LampsAt this time of many of us will be looking to buy some form of electrical goods.So it’s a good time to remind ourselves of our rights under the law not, just UK but EU laws.

Over the course of the year we receive many enquiries regarding Warranties so we thought it would be a good opportunity to clarify the rules. The European Directive 1999/44/EC says all EU countries have to ensure a retailer could be held liable for all “non-conformities” which manifest within two years from delivery.

However, because the Sale of Goods Act (SOGA) meets or exceeds most of the directive’s requirements, this overrides the EU directive.

The act requires three things:

  1. the goods must be as described;
  2. they must be of satisfactory quality, which is determined by description, price, durability, freedom from minor defects;
  3. they must be fit for purpose.

Because manufacturers tend to give one year’s warranty on goods, retailers will usually push you in their direction if the product breaks inside the first year.

However, SOGA provides cover for goods bought for up to (six years in England and Wales) (five years in Scotland). This means if a TV fails after 13 months, you still have rights. Assuming the item has failed through no fault of yours, and it was “reasonable” to expect it to last longer – given its cost/quality – you should demand, under the Sale of Goods Act, that it be replaced or repaired by the retailer, not the manufacturer. Once the item is six months old, the onus is on you, the consumer, to show the item failed as a result of a manufacturing fault.

March 2012

Apple’s finally relented after getting fined £750,000 (€900,000) by the Italians for not obeying the EU’s minimum two-year warranty legislation – every product you buy from Apple, online or in-store, now has a free two-year warranty whether Cupertino likes it or not.

It also covers non-Apple branded products sold in its stores too, but doesn’t cover Apple products sold by Amazon or other retailers (although the other retailer has to pick up the tab for that by law). It’s a little known fact that everything eligible for a warranty bought in the UK or EU is covered by a minimum two-year warranty, although it’s technically only for faults present when you bought the device, not those developed during its lifetime. It’s not down to the manufacturer to cover the cost of this directly, however; it’s down to the place you bought it from.

The onus is on the manufacturer/store to prove fault developed due to YOUR mishap.

Clare Francis, commercial law expert at Pinsent Masons, said:

it’s not a retailer’s responsibility to point out the rules to consumers. “A retailer is under no specific obligation to point out the statutory warranty protection to a consumer,” she told PC Pro. “However, the regulatory authorities in this instance appear to be looking at whether the advertising misled a consumer by suggesting the consumer should take out additional warranty protection.”

She said UK regulators would be unlikely to fine a company over such an issue unless consumers – or competitors – had filed complaints that weren’t resolved. “A consumer could not bring a direct action himself for damages,” she added. The EU can’t fine Apple directly over the issue, but it can fine member countries that don’t find a solution.

Francis noted that the laws apply regardless of any contract or warranty signed with a company – which is what the phrase “this does not affect your statutory rights” is in reference to – and added that additional warranties, such as Apple’s, are designed to “give an additional layer of protection”.

EU Rules do not require free replacement for a minimum of two years. It requires free replacement for 6 months but allows you to make a claim against a retailer for up to 2 years provided you can prove the problem existed when the device was purchased. In England and Wales that period is actually 6 years and in Scotland 5. After the initial 6 months the retailer is allowed to make an offer that takes into account the use you’ve had from whatever you’ve bought.

Accepting returns and giving refunds: the law

UK GOV accepting-returns-and-giving-refunds

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Dave Thornton

Senior Editor

Senior Editor
Been involved in technology for many years, more than I care to remember. Live in Dundee, Scotland. I like Android, Windows Phone OS, BlackBerry OS and iOS, and love writing about all things techie. Currently have a Honor 6+, Elephone P6000, Nexus 5, Chrombook C720, HTC One M7, Nokia Lumina 625, Microsoft Lumia 435, Blackberry Q10, HTC Hero and iPad mini