Consumer rights: Right to a guarantee: what’s changing for customers now

Smartphone defective after purchase? Or the lawn mower? Customers are now better protected in the event of a complaint – if they know their rights.

If a defect occurs after purchase, the annoyance is great. But what rights do customers then have? Most people talk about a guarantee when they want to make a complaint in the shop. They have a so-called warranty law – that offers more. The legislature has now even improved this guarantee.

Consumers can now enforce the warranty for a whole year after purchasing the product instead of just six months before. In addition, the law now also applies digital products such as streaming services, apps or smartwatches. “We assume that the new law will bring a positive result,” says Iwona Husemann, legal expert at the consumer center in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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Warranty – what does that even mean?

The dealer must be responsible for two years for having handed over the sold new goods to the buyer free of defects. If this is not the case, the customer can free repair or the substitute through a flawless product demand. The rectification of the defect is referred to in the Civil Code as “subsequent performance”. It is important to know: The seller bears the costs for transport, work and materials that arise during the supplementary performance.

The controversial question is: did the product really already have its quirk upon delivery to the customer? Or is the customer responsible for the damage himself, for example because of improper handling? Here is the question of proof.

The old law made the following regulation: Only if the purchased item is within the first half a year broke, it was assumed by law that the fault existed from the start – and the seller therefore had to “subsequently fulfill”, i.e. repair or provide a replacement.

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What is new is that the customer has been able to do this since January whole first year claim the warranty without having to prove yourself that the goods were defective when you received them. The statutory deadline has therefore been extended by half a year. The new regulation applies to purchases made since January 1st. The old law still applies to products that were previously purchased.

Warranty and Guarantee – What’s the difference?

Manufacturers and dealers can use one warranty give for their product – but do not have to. However, companies are always bound by the statutory warranty described.

The second difference: With a guarantee, the providers put theirs scope and duration in each individual case itself firmly at its own discretion. However, the guarantee is precisely defined by law. This is often mistakenly mixed up. “Most people use the terms guarantee and warranty synonymously, but it’s about different things with different rights,” says expert Husemann.

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Individual parts such as the battery, for example, are often not included in guarantees. Or the labor costs for repairs are not covered by the guarantor. “It’s different with the statutory warranty. The defect that existed when the goods were handed over must be without costs be remedied for the customer,” explains consumer advocate Husemann.

Important to know: A guarantee does not limit the statutory warranty. The customer can therefore decide whether he prefers to invoke the warranty instead of a valid guarantee. Example of a defective smartphone display: According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, the customer must contact the seller not to the manufacturer who has guaranteed the display. Rather, he can insist on a repair by the seller under the warranty.

What applies to digital?

The law now regulates that customers can also report defects digital products complain and can rely on the statutory warranty. “Faulty streaming services, software or apps have to be improved or replaced with an error-free version,” explains Tiana Schönbohm, legal expert at the consumer advice center in Lower Saxony.

According to the Federal Ministry of Justice, there is a defect, for example, if a audiobook is not the promised length or a CD cannot be played on a standard CD player. A computer program is considered defective if it cannot be loaded smoothly, gets stuck during operation or has security gaps.

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According to the information, digital products also include Cloud and messenger services, social networks and e-mail programs – regardless of whether the customer pays a price for them in money or discloses personal data. “Smart” devices such as vacuum robots, refrigerators or wristwatches that are equipped with software are also subject to the legal regulation. “However, it remains to be seen how the providers will handle the new requirements in practice,” says consumer advocate Schönbohm.

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