European Consumer Centre

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Are commercial warranties worth it?

Prasklá bota k reklamaci.Consumers all over the EU, Iceland and Norway enjoy several levels of protection against the delivery of goods which are not in conformity: next to the mandatory protection by law prohibiting the sales of goods not conform to their description, legal guarantees apply to faulty products and when purchasing an item, it is usual for the seller to propose a specific commercial warranty, sometimes referred to as an extension of the legal guarantee.

This is particularly the case for fragile or valuable items (e.g. watches, cars, fridges or washing machines). It can be included in the price of the good (and in such cases it is often referred to as a specific producer's or seller's warranty) but in many Member states the consumer will have to pay it at an extra cost depending on the coverage and duration of the additional service proposed. But are commercial warranties worth the money? Do they really add anything to the protection already offered by law in the EU, Iceland and Norway?

The ECC-Net in an extensive report compared the legal guarantee and commercial warranty schemes in the EU Member States, Iceland and Norway and analysed whether commercial warranties really keep their promises and are worth their additional costs. ECCs also carried out checks online and on sellers' premises and studied accounts from consumers to get an insight into how well consumers are protected by EU law and/or commercial warranties when they discover that goods they have purchased are not in conformity to their expectations or have defects.

The report has also looked into other legal guarantees foreseen by national law coexisting with the legal guarantee of non-conformity introduced by Directive 1999/44/EC such as the legal guarantees against hidden defects for example.

The complete press release is available here.