Earlier this year, the papers were full of this – a European Directive entitling all European consumers to a repair or a replacement for goods which fail within two years of purchase. It was not new but clearly stated that “Sellers … are obliged to guarantee the conformity of the goods with the contract for a period of two years after the delivery of the goods”.
After it hit the headlines, store managers and companies around the UK started to get numerous calls from consumers citing this Directive and demanding enforcement of their consumer rights. But reporting of this EU Directive has not helped what is already a source of much confusion among traders and consumer alike.
In reality, this European law, is no substitute for what we already have in the UK in the form of Sale of Goods Act 1979. Under this act, consumers in the UK have the statutory right to expect products which are of “satisfactory quality and fit for purpose”. It enables us to request a repair, replacement or even a refund at any time, bearing in mind the price you have paid and the expected lifetime of the product. In many cases, this may be longer than two years and could be anything up to six.
What tends to confuse consumers and allow traders to wriggle out of their legal obligations under Sale of Goods, is the mention of guarantees or warranties (essentially the same thing). How many of us are under the impression that once a product is ‘out of warranty’, the retailer or supplier is no longer responsible? Wrong. Your statutory rights under Sale of Goods mean you may still be entitled to a repair, replacement or a refund long after the warranty has expired. And don’t be told otherwise!