Warranty and liability for defects

A warranty may be given on a voluntary basis. Even if a warranty is not issued, the seller is responsible for any defects occurring in a product on the basis of its legal liability for defects. A warranty must be an additional benefit granted to the buyer, in other words it must provide the buyer with better rights than legal provisions.

Issuing a warranty is voluntary

By granting a warranty, a business assumes responsibility for the usability or other properties of an article for a certain period. The warrantor is responsible for any defects and other issues specified in the warranty during the warranty period.

The end of the warranty period does not release the business from its liability for defects. If there is no warranty or it has expired, the seller is nevertheless liable for any defect on the basis of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act regarding liability for defects.The seller cannot limit such a liability through the warranty conditions.

A warranty may be provided by a retailer, manufacturer or importer. The seller is responsible for any warranty granted by a preceding link in the sales chain, such as the manufacturer or importer, as it would be for its own. Within the supply chain, the seller can disclaim any warranty provided by a previous link in the sales chain only by clearly and specifically informing the buyer of this prior to the sale. If the seller fails to do so, the buyer can choose the point in the supply chain to which he or she wishes to address a claim.

The manufacturer and importer are not liable for any warranty issued by the seller in its own name. However, the manufacturer and importer may be liable for a defect on the basis of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act regarding the previous links in the supply chain.

A warranty is product-specific

Warranties are issued for products and remain valid even if the ownership of the product is transferred. Thus, a warranty may not be restricted to the first owner of a product, but the warrantor will be responsible for the related obligation throughout the warranty period, regardless of who owns the product. However, use of the product may not change substantially, for example from private use to professional use. The warrantor may also require that it be notified in writing of any changes in ownership.

Rectification of a defect during the warranty period

The warranty provider must rectify a defect following the principles laid down in the Consumer Protection Act (repair, replacement, price reduction, cancellation of sale) unless compensation that is more advantageous to the consumer than the compensation laid down in the Act is provided under a warranty.

A defect is primarily rectified by repairing or replacing the item, whichever the consumer chooses. This should be done within a reasonable period of time and without resulting in costs or essential inconvenience for the consumer.

To free itself from liability, the warrantor must prove that the defect was caused by:

  • the customer’s carelessness
  • an accident, such as damage caused by an electrical storm
  • failure to observe instructions on the use or maintenance of the product
  • inappropriate handling of the goods.

Warranty repair is free of charge for the buyer

The warrantor is responsible for any costs arising from repair. These include costs incurred by the consumer from transporting the product for repair, spare parts and the repairer’s work and travel expenses.

Troubleshooting during the warranty period may only be charged for if the consumer clearly brings the appliance in for warranty repairs on a frivolous basis. Frivolous cases of requests for warranty repairs include, for example, defects caused by the customer herself in cases where this should have been obvious to the customer.

Place of repair during the warranty period

The warranty terms normally state what the consumer should do if problems occur. If the warranty terms list the service companies which undertake warranty repairs, it is recommended that the consumer turns to these companies.

However, the consumer may present the product to the seller

  • if taking the product elsewhere would be inconvenient for the consumer. This is based on the principle that the buyer always has the right to turn to the seller in matters related to a defect or warranty.
  • if the warranty terms provide no instructions in the event of problems. In such a case, the consumer should contact the seller. The seller must clarify the matter with the warrantor; the seller cannot automatically direct the consumer to the importer or manufacturer.


Warranty repair of a product bought abroad

If the product was bought from another EU member state (for example, from an online shop or during a holiday trip), the buyer should refer to the warranty terms in the first instance. which specify the warranty service providers. If a Finnish service provider is not mentioned, the consumer should turn to the Finnish importer.

If the importer refuses to arrange the warranty repair of a product bought within the EU area, the consumer may appeal to the product manufacturer. If the product has a manufacturer’s warranty, the manufacturer must ensure that any warranty it has granted in one EU member state is also valid in other member states.

Under her legislative rights, a consumer can always turn to the seller in the case of a complaint. If the product has a defect for which the seller is liable, the consumer can demand that the seller repair or replace it in the first instance. In the EU area, in every case the seller is liable for any defects in the product at the time of purchase.


Warranty details

A warranty certificate must be provided either in print or electronic form in such a manner that the information it contains cannot be unilaterally changed and the consumer can retain such information. A warranty must clearly state the following:

  • the warranty contents and the fact that the warranty does not limit the buyer’s statutory rights
  • the warrantor, warranty period and territorial limits, as well as any other information necessary for filing claims based on the warranty, such as reporting a defect or presenting a warranty certificate.

A consumer has a right to appeal with respect to any warranty issued, even if it did not fulfil the above requirements. This concerns cases in which, for example, the seller has provided only a receipt which states the warranty period. In such a case, the warranty is nevertheless valid in accordance with the legal provisions concerning the liability for defects, without any limitations regarding the warranty.

If the terms of the warranty certificate are less advantageous to the buyer than those presented in marketing information, the warranty terms given in marketing will be binding, unless the marketing information has been corrected in time and using the same or a comparable method to the one originally used to advertise the terms.

If thermal paper is used for the purchase receipt, the details of the warrantor and the warranty period may fade before the warranty period expires. If warranty information has been provided on a thermal paper receipt only, the seller cannot refuse the consumer’s warranty claims solely on the basis that the receipt is unreadable. In such a case, the seller must provide other reliable proof that the warranty is not in force.

Read also: Receipts


Warranty limitations

The warranty shall be in force to the extent specified in the warranty terms and conditions. The warranty may exclude damage and faults caused by

  • neglecting instructions for use or care
  • incorrect or careless handling of the goods
  • an accident that occurred after the goods were handed over.

The warranty may also be limited with respect to the product’s special characteristics. For example, some rapidly wearing parts may be excluded from the warranty. However, the business’s statutory liability for defects will nevertheless also apply to the parts excluded from the warranty. On the other hand, ordinary wear and tear of an appliance or part thereof is not covered by liability for defects.

A warranty cannot limit the buyer’s statutory rights. For example, the warrantor cannot stipulate that the consumer is responsible for transport costs to a repair shop.