Since the company that sold the product to a consumer is primarily responsible for handling all customer complaints and refunds, it pays to focus on making the process as quick and efficient as possible. Consumer experiences of how complaints are handled play a significant role in ensuring customer satisfaction.
The consumer’s contracting party, i.e. the company that sold the product, is primarily responsible for handling any defects. There are no legal limits to how long the liability for defects can last, and it depends on the presumed lifespan of each product.
Sellers cannot afford to just forward their customers to the company that imported or manufactured the product or to the party who is responsible for the product’s warranty service whenever a consumer has a complaint. However, you can inform your customers which part of the supply chain they should contact so that they can have the defect rectified.
The company that sold the product to the consumer is liable for rectifying any defects, and this liability is not limited by the product’s warranty period.
- If the warranty is still valid: The seller is responsible for the warranty given by the manufacturer or importer, unless the seller has explicitly announced to the consumer before the sale is made that they will not be bound by it. The seller’s liability for defects will continue for the duration of the presumed lifespan of the product.
- No warranty has been given or the warranty period has expired: The sellers is legally bound to assume liability for any defects in the product. There are no statutory limits for the seller’s liability for defects, and the duration of the liability is determined by the presumed lifespan of the product or its defective part.
The responsibilities of importers and manufacturers
A consumer may file a claim for a defect to the importer, manufacturer or other previous party in the supply chain. The previous parties in the supply chain may not reject consumer claims on the basis of the liability of the seller or other distributor.
The liability of the previous parties in the supply chain for defects is subject to the same principles as the seller’s liability, although this liability is not quite as broad. The manufacturer or importer is not responsible for a defect in the product if the defect was caused under circumstances beyond their control after the product was handed to the retailer – for example, if the product was damaged while it was in the retailer’s possession or the retailer provided false information about the product.
More information on handling consumer relations
Familiarise yourself with the basics on the FCCA’s website:
Gain in-depth insight by reading the Consumer Ombudsman’s guidelines: