- Liability for defects refers to the vendor’s responsibility to ensure that the goods or services are as agreed or what the consumer can reasonably expect.
- Liability for defects applies if the product does not have a warranty, the defective part is not covered by the warranty, or the warranty period has expired.
- The vendor, importer and manufacturer are liable for defects in products.
- The Consumer Protection Act contains provisions on liability for defects.
- There are no legal time limits for liability for defects, as this time period depends on the expected service life of each product.
- The warranty is a voluntary additional advantage provided by the vendor, manufacturer or importer to the buyer.
- The warranty provider is responsible for ensuring that the product works for a set period.
- The warranty must be a genuine addition to the liability for defects.
Identifying a defect during the warranty period
The vendor is liable for defects in the goods as set out in the terms of the warranty granted by the vendor. The vendor is also responsible for a warranty given by the manufacturer or importer, unless the vendor has explicitly stated otherwise before the sale is concluded.
The warranty provider has to provide compensation at their expense for defects that arise during the warranty period. This obligation does not apply, however, if the warranty provider can show that the fault was probably caused by the buyer, for example by
- improper use of the product
- neglecting services specified in the maintenance instructions
- external damage or an accident
During the warranty period, the buyer cannot be charged for finding the fault (diagnostics). An exception to this is situations where the buyer has clearly brought the goods in for repairs groundlessly or has caused the fault or defect themselves.
Identifying a defect when there is no warranty
The vendor still is liable for defects as referred to in the Consumer Protection Act if no warranty has been given or the warranty period has expired.
There are no legal time limits for liability for defects, as this time period depends on the expected service life of each product or individual faulty components. Consequently, the company’s liability does not end with the expiry of the warranty period.
When no warranty has been given or it has expired, the buyer is usually expected to prove that the product has a defect or a fault. However, the consumer need not provide a highly detailed report on the causes of the defect or fault, especially in the case of complex technical equipment.
Neither is the buyer expected to provide specific proof of the defect if the fault or defect arises significantly before the end of the normal service life of the product or a faulty part, and the vendor is unable to show that the defect was caused by the buyer or by some other factor the vendor could not control.
You should report the defect to the vendor as soon as possible after you detect it.
However, the vendor is not liable for defects caused by natural wear and tear, an accident or improper use.
If the vendor examines the item and no defect is found in it, the vendor may charge the consumer a reasonable fee for the diagnostics if this was mentioned in advance. The consumer has the right to receive a written report on the diagnosed faults and their repair costs.
If the vendor denies the defect
If you have filed a complaint with a company but the vendor denies the claim of the product being defective and refuses to offer compensation, you may try to demonstrate the existence of the defect by other means and then claim compensation.
In these situations, you can:
Contact the Consumer Advisory Services, which can give an initial assessment of the defect in the product based on the information you provide, for example a verbal description or photographs. However, the Consumer Advisory Services do not inspect goods or make customer visits to determine if a product is defective.
Find an impartial expert to determine if the product is defective. If an expert inspects the product and finds it defective, you can demand that the vendor repairs or replaces the product.
If repairing or replacing the product is not possible or the vendor does not do so within a reasonable time period, you can demand a price reduction or cancellation of the sale. The price reduction must be equal to the defect, for example cover the estimated repair costs. The sale cannot be cancelled if the defect is minor.
In addition to rectifying the defect, the company has a duty to compensatethe costs of investigating the defect, including the costs of an expert examination.
You can have the item repaired by another company and demand compensation from the vendor later. To prove that the item had a defect, you should ask the party who repairs it to give you a written statement. You should also keep any defective parts.