You have the right to claim compensation for losses caused by a defect in a product. You cannot get compensation for distress or mental suffering.
To get compensation, you must have proof of your losses. You must have a receipt or other reliable information on the costs.
The consumer and the vendor are obliged to minimise any costs resulting from the losses. For example, if the consumer could justifiably have reduced the costs caused by the defect by acting differently, the vendor does not have to compensate any costs regarded as unnecessary.
Losses to be compensated
You can demand compensation for direct and indirect losses and material damage.
Direct losses include reasonable travel, postage, telephone and other costs resulting from investigating a defect (including a goods inspector’s report) as well as necessary costs of using services that replace the product. Repair costs are also direct losses if, for a justified reason, the defect had to be repaired by someone else than the vendor, or the vendor refused to repair it.
The consumer can only claim compensation for indirect losses if the defect or damage was caused by the company’s negligence. Negligence may include failing to comply with obligations, incompetence, indifference or carelessness. Indirect losses include:
- loss of income
for example, the consumer has had to take time off work to investigate a defect or have it rectified, and their pay has been deducted for this time of absence.
- losses associated with some other contract concluded by the consumer
for example, the consumer’s car has broken down due to a defect, which leads to them missing a flight whose ticket price was non-refundable.
- Essential loss of use or other inconvenience
For example, repairing a defective product takes a long time, causing the consumer concrete, significant inconvenience. You cannot claim compensation for minor inconvenience.
Material damage (damage to property caused by a defective product)
The consumer may claim compensation for material damage, which means damage caused by a defect in the product to other property besides the goods sold by the vendor. The type of the damage determines the party to whom the claim should be addressed.
You can claim compensation from the vendor for damage caused by the defect to other items if the product causing the damage and the damaged item are directly connected by use.
- This means a functional connection. For example, the vendor may be liable to provide compensation for textiles ruined by a defective washing machine or foods defrosted by a defective freezer.
On the other hand, the vendor is not liable for water damage to floor or wall surfaces caused by a defect in a washing machine, as under product liability regulations, the manufacturer or importer would be liable for such damage.
A claim may be addressed to the manufacturer or importer if it concerns compensation for personal injuries or damage to private property caused by safety defects in the product. If the manufacturer of the product is not evident, compensation may be claimed from the company that marketed the product as their own or put their logo on it. The consumer must show proof of the damage, the deficiencies in product safety, and the causal link between the damage and the safety deficiencies.
- Material damage includes repair costs and costs resulting from damage caused by the goods, reduced value, or the value of the destroyed item. Under product liability provisions, damage to property of less than EUR 395.25 does not have to be compensated. Any damage exceeding this minimum limit must be covered in full.
- As personal injuries are compensated medical costs without a minimum limit and any other costs caused by the damage. In addition, compensation is paid for loss of income, pain and suffering, and disability or other permanent impairment.