We buy all kinds of things, from the corner store to a website on the other side of the world. What rights do we have as consumers? How long is there to return something that we do not like or is not right? What guarantee do we have and how should I claim if necessary? We are going to clear up these questions, but a warning is ahead. Many things are not as they seem , or as many believe.
In many places they say for example that we have two years warranty by European standards. What if we tell you it's six months? Others believe that you can always return an item that we have not liked after a few days ... it is not true either. You have to know what you are entitled to and what you are not. This way we will not only know how and when to claim with reason. We will also know when a store or brand is giving us a better service than what the law requires.
Returns: only when they want
Let's start with this: you buy something and you don't like it or it doesn't work for you ... can you just return it and get your money back? Well the answer is no . If you have bought it in a physical store (collected in person) the store has no obligation to accept it. Only if the purchase has a defect or defect, you can return it or exchange it for another one. Or if it does not meet the advertised characteristics, because it is defective or because it is misleading. In these cases, they must also return money (or credit card), never a voucher or something similar.
There are stores that do offer this service to their customers and advertise it. If it is a chain, advertising is binding on all its franchises. But be careful with the conditions even in that case: there are stores that only accept if the packaging is intact (unopened), for example. Or it is possible that they accept the return, but they do not give you money but a voucher. As the law does not oblige them, make sure what conditions they put. There is a common one: keep the purchase receipt or invoice. And another: they do not accept returns on copyable products (records or films) or "delicate" (underwear, party dresses). Finally, if the merchant accepts the return, and if it has only been tested without deterioration, no compensation for the wear caused by the damage must be accepted.
Stores that sell remotely do have to accept the return . It does not matter if it is by catalog, online, by phone ... In these cases you have up to 14 calendar days from the day you receive the merchandise. Not from the day of purchase, which is an advantage for the customer. It is another important advantage of buying from a distance, especially when shipping is free.
When the purchase is in another country, it is advisable to calmly look at its conditions of sale. We will be subject to them, and if necessary to claim in your country. Fortunately, online stores need impeccable reputations and they strive to do so. If you have a problem, they will do anything (or almost) to avoid a negative comment or a bad rating.
Guarantees: who does it depend on?
It is the seller (not the manufacturer) who is accountable to the buyer for the quality of the product. If we have any problem with what we buy, we must go to the store . It is important to be clear about it because in many stores, when faced with a claim, they hide behind our going to the brand. Or they tell us that they cover a period and then it's the brand. Not so, it is always the seller for the duration of the warranty. Although now we will see how much it is (in theory, two years).
This implies as the first downside that, if we buy something outside of Spain and we have a problem, we may have to send it to the country of origin. There are quite a few brands that do accept to repair a product bought abroad, even they do not even ask for the invoice (the serial number is registered). There are also brands that offer us three or five (or more) years of warranty. There are even brands that prefer to meet the guarantees and not leave it in the hands of a store. But none of this is required by law, you have to be clear in case you hit us. We must know what our rights are and how far they go.
That is why it is convenient to distinguish the so-called “commercial guarantees” from the legal and mandatory ones. A commercial guarantee will be an extra service that the brand offers us: more time or / and more facilities. Beware of some warranty offers that do not give anything beyond what is legal. Paying something to give us two years when that is legal, if there are no other advantages, is a waste of money.
Warranties: two years really?
By European regulations, the official guarantee of any good sold is two years. It's 24 months from the date of purchase (or delivery), yes, but there are two big "buts" to keep in mind. In fact it is practically a hoax for the consumer . The warranty as most of us understand it actually protects us for six months. If after the first six months a problem appears, it will be the consumer who must prove that the cause existed before and was in the product. That it is not something that has been caused by wear or tear. That is, it will be necessary to pay an expert or technician to prepare a report in order to claim that guarantee.
During the first six months it is assumed that if a problem appears, it must have existed when it was sold. It's how we all understand a guarantee: a fault appears, we contact the seller and they repair the product. Or they change it for a new one, at the consumer's choice. Even if it is irreparable or an endemic failure, a refund or a price reduction could be requested.
Additional costs in guarantees
It is clear then that those two years of warranty are very misleading. And more conflicts may arise . The first problem can arise, within the first six months, if the repair has extra costs. For example, that the device has a fault and a technician must come to your home. It is easy to happen with appliances, or a large television, because it is not practical to move it.
The guarantee includes any expenses and that is why you never have to agree to pay for that trip. The same is true if we have to send the product for repair under warranty. The law clearly states that the repair must be free for the consumer, without any cost.
The good way or the bad way
In the face of any problem it is always better to try to reach friendly agreements . Especially if we are clear about our rights, and we hope that after reading this article you know it. Normally, a store prefers to solve a problem: if we take something with a slight defect, negotiate an additional discount. But sometimes things don't go well. Something that after repairing it continues to give problems, or if the time to repair it is very long. By the way, the time spent in repair does not count in the warranty (the two years stop during a repair). In the end, despite our good will, the seller may not follow reasons.
If there is no other way, you will have to claim . For example, if they have left us no choice but to pay an expense for a warranty repair. We will have to make a written claim to the store and if they do not respond within a month, file a claim in Consumer Affairs. There we can request arbitration in addition to filing an official claim. If not, it will be time to go to court. For a verbal judgment below 2,000 euros we will not need a lawyer or attorney.