When searching for better deals in the internal market, it is suitable to consider possible resolution of problems that may occur after purchases elsewhere in the EU. Some vendors, especially from the neighbouring countries, may be reluctant to settle claims despite having promised to come directly to consumer’s home in the Czech Republic to resolve certain complaints.
Such cases often relate to kitchen units, sofas and shower baths, i.e. goods that need to be installed at consumer’s home and cannot be sent by post. This is the difficulty of possible claims because it is necessary for the particular vendor to come to consumer’s place and to either remove respective defects or replace the particular goods right on the spot. However, some traders are not willing to do so despite their promises and commitments.
As regards every purchase from an unknown trader it is worth searching for other consumers’ experience with a particular vendor, e.g. search on the internet or reviews from friends who go shopping to the respective country or city. It is advisable to notice the way the vendor presents himself and what kind of information and data are provided by his employees. Some procedures and signs may warn the consumer that not everything may be fine.
For instance, if an agreement upon design and proportions of a kitchen is indeed a hand-drawn plan of individual parts drawn on a sheet of paper, the consumer will later have difficulties to claim wrong positioning of a unit that cannot be opened due to collisions with other doors. No plan and positioning exists indeed and there is nothing to rely on when the trader states that all was made in compliance with the agreement.
The situation needn’t be so extreme. It can also happen that a foreign trader who runs an ordinary shop not far from the borders wouldn’t keep his original promise to settle possible claims of a shower bath in the Czech Republic, and in case of a problem, he would suddenly start telling the consumer that he provides no claims settlement on the territory of the Czech Republic.
The European Consumer Centre therefore recommends considering the nature of purchased products in comparison not only with their prices, but also in relation to subsequent vendor’s care when things go wrong.
Let’s compare the above mentioned with a situation in which low price requires longer delivery and potentially shorter guaranty. Some consumers prefer purchasing a mobile phone charger for 100 CZK from an e-shop in the United Kingdom to paying 500 CZK for the same charger in the Czech Republic. The ratio of risk of non-delivery of such goods and potential financial loss is acceptable.
However, it is different in case of a sofa for 80,000 CZK. A similar sofa offered by a shop in the Czech Republic could be a little more expensive than in a neighbouring country, but several thousands of Czech crowns in question may outweigh subsequent cross-border quarrels with a trader concerning replacement of sofa cover or a piece of furniture. Such consideration is every consumer’s choice.
We don’t want to discourage consumers from cross-border purchases. We mean to note that it is important to consider circumstances of every particular purchase.
The article was published in the dTest magazine 12/2015.