Consumers have the right to demand not only rectification of the defect but also compensation for any damage caused by it. No compensation will be paid for trouble and upset or emotional distress.
To receive compensation, the claimant must present proof of the damage in question. This entails presenting a receipt or some other reliable confirmation of the costs incurred.
Both the consumer and vendor must take action to ensure that the costs caused by the damage are as limited as possible. If, for example, the consumer could have reduced the costs caused by the defect by acting differently, compensation need only be paid for costs that would have been incurred by the consumer anyway.
Damage for which compensation must be paid
Compensation may be demanded for both direct and indirect damage, as well as personal or property damage caused by the materials used during the use of the service.
1. Direct damage
Direct damage include reasonable travel, postage and telephone costs caused by handling a defect, and other costs of having the defect analysed (e.g. a statement by a goods inspector). Repair costs are also direct damage if, for a justifiable reason, the defect had to be repaired by someone other than the vendor, or the vendor refused to carry out the repairs. If the terms and conditions related to the sale specify a standard compensation rate, the consumer may demand payment of the standard rate in the situations mentioned in the terms.
For example, in the case of purchases of construction materials such as kitchen furniture, consumers are advised to check the terms and conditions applying to standard compensation in relation to delays. If the costs incurred by a consumer due to a delay exceed the standard compensation specified in the terms, the consumer is entitled to request compensation according to actual costs.
2. Indirect damage
Compensation for indirect damage will only be provided if the damage was due to negligence on the company’s part. This may take the form of dereliction of duty, incompetence, indifference or carelessness. Compensation for indirect damage may be claimed in the case of financial losses caused by the defect, such as:
- costs incurred by the service not being performed. For instance, if the vendor has not supplied the goods to be installed on time, and the consumer is obliged to pay for a fitter ordered in vain.
- loss of income. Example: The consumer has had to take time off work in order to investigate or repair the defect, and has had his or her salary reduced for the period in question.
- the work is useless due to the defect. Compensation for loss of utility may be demanded, for instance if a delay in the renovation of an apartment hinders its use as a residence. Compensation will not, however, be paid for damage of minor significance.
3. Material damage – damage caused to property
Consumers are entitled to claim compensation for damage caused by a service. Service businesses are responsible for any material damage caused by materials used at work (including spare parts, accessories etc.) if the damage is caused to property fundamentally connected to the use of whatever the service concerns.
If the damage was caused by a defect in a spare part or material used in repairing the goods, the liable party may be the company that conducted the repairs.