When does a service have a defect?

The content, performance and outcome of a service must be as agreed. A service must be performed skilfully and carefully. As a defect in a service is assessed on the basis of general expectations, an individual consumer’s personal expectations are not relevant. Instead, the company’s actions when advising the consumer and providing information are taken into account. 

A service is defective when

  • the content, performance or outcome of the service is not as agreed
  • the work has not been done skilfully and carefully. Examples of professional skill are the company’s ability to locate the fault and, on this basis, to offer a suitable service for repairing it. The company must also be able to choose an appropriate working method and determine whether to repair the defective part or replace it with a new one.Carefulness includes bringing along the right tools for locating and repairing the fault when visiting a customer’s home. It also includes asking the customer for advance information on matters that are significant for performing the work and ensuring that the repair was successful.In a dispute, the company must be able to prove that the work was completed skilfully and carefully.
  • the consumer’s interests were not sufficiently taken into account. For example, taking the consumer’s interests into account means that an entrepreneur must avoid causing unnecessary costs to the consumer.
  • the durability and other characteristics of the work or materials do not meet the usual standards of good quality. The outcome of the work must meet the usual standards of good quality. In home renovations, for example, good quality means that preparatory work, including cleaning and smoothing surfaces, has been done properly before painting and wallpapering. If materials purchased by the consumer are used, the entrepreneur must also be able to assess their usability.
  • the work does not comply with the requirements of an act, decree or regulation issued by an authority, including electrical and fire safety regulations.
    the work does not match the advance information. Advance information refers to all information that influenced the consumer’s decision-making provided about the service in marketing and when concluding the contract or providing the service.
  • the service provider did not offer sufficient information about the most sensible way of performing the work or other important aspects. The service provider must inform the customer if, for example, the outcome would suffer from taking the object of the work into use too soon. The company must contact the consumer without delay if:-performing the work or repair ordered by the consumer is not worth doing.
    -the success of the repair is uncertain, or the appliance is likely to only work for a short while.
    -the work will end up being significantly more expensive than the indicative price given to the customer.

Application of provisions on defects to services

In the Consumer Protection Act, services refer mainly to work on the customer’s property. Typical services include:

  • repair services
  • maintenance of vehicles and household appliances
  • laundry services
  • veterinary services

The services referred to in the Act also include different building renovations, small-scale construction projects, such as playhouses or docks, soil improvement work, felling of trees, garden work, etc.

The principles of the Consumer Protection Act are also followed in the provision of other services, including:

  • banking and insurance services
  • health or beauty care services
  • accommodation, transport and education services
  • supply of electricity, heat and water
  • telephone and broadband subscriptions.