Your rights

There is a lot of misconception regarding warranty and statutory rights. Some people think its a mandatory 2 year warranty as per the EU Consumer Rights Directive, while others say its a 6 year warranty as per the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980. In fact its neither of these.

Lets explain the EU Consumer Rights Directive first. This directive basically states that a consumer can bring an action against a seller within 2 years off the purchase of goods, it doesn’t actually imply that the goods automatically have 2 year warranty, it just means a consumer can seek a claim with in 2 years from date of purchase. If for example a hairdryer stops working after 20 months, a consumer could ask the re-seller for redress. However the seller may refuse as item may have only come with a 1 year warranty. If the consumer is unhappy with this they may take the re-seller to civil court to let a judge decide what and if any redress is available. If however consumer waited 25 months they have lost the rights to make a claim. This directive applies to all goods and services provided in the EU. So even if the item has been purchased online from another EU country this directive still stands.

The Sales of Goods and Supply of Services Act, 1980 supersedes the EU directive in Ireland. The act actually entitles the consumer to 6 years to bring a action against a the seller, however it doesn’t mean that the goods have a 6 year warranty.

Under this Act the purchaser of goods has a number of rights – the main ones are

•Goods must be of merchantable quality – goods should be of reasonable quality taking into account what they are meant to do, their durability and their price
•Goods must be fit for their purpose – they must do what they are reasonably expected to do
•Goods must be as described – the buyer must not be mislead into buying something by the description of goods or services given orally by a salesperson or an advertisement.

The caveat to this is that the seller needs to be informed with in a reasonable time if the goods purchased do not meet these rights. In general you will need to inform the retailer within about 14 days if you are unhappy with the goods. If the seller hasn’t been informed within a reasonable time, a delay can indicate that you have accepted goods.

So what happens if a item you have purchased is faulty? The Act covers goods that are faulty from time of purchase, that the fault existed when item was bought. So if a consumer had purchased a television opened it up at home the same day and television wont power on this would be considered a inherent faulty with the item. In general any faults that appear 6 months after purchase would be considered as a fault from day of purchase.

A inherent fault is different from a developed fault, a developed fault would be a fault that developed after the goods had been purchased and have been used for sometime generally 6 months or more. If a fault developed it is up to the consumer to prove that the fault existed from the day item was purchased, and not a fault that developed through use. If the television stopped powering on after 18 months this would be considered a developed fault, the consumer can still bring a claim against the re-seller as its still with in 6 years from date of purchase, however it would be up to the consumer to prove that the fault (television not powering on) was there from the very start. At this point it will be up to the judge to decide whether customer has any rights for a claim. In general a judge will look at the cost of the goods, their intended use, how the goods are portrayed in marketing and the condition of the goods when returned back to the seller.

Most manufactures include their own warranty/guarantee with the goods and this is where manufactures warranty/guarantee comes into play. A manufactures guarantee is additional guarantee that a manufacture makes for its goods. This guarantee is in addition to your statutory rights. In most cases the manufactures guarantee covers the consumer against faults not covered by the statutory rights. They generally cover developed faults that may occur after the goods have been used by the consumer.

For example a 18 month old tablet stops working, however the manufactures has guaranteed the tablet for 2 years, they will then fix or replace the tablet even though consumer has taken delivery off goods and has been using it fault free for the last 18 months. A consumer if they wanted to could still take the re-seller to court and let a judge decide. Nevertheless in most cases a judge will send item to be repaired under manufactures guarantee as it would be considered a developed fault and not one present from day one.

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