Your guarantees in case of a product defect

Thanks to the European Union, for any purchase in store or on the Internet from a professional seller, you benefit from a legal guarantee of conformity of at least 2 years, which allows you to ask the seller to repair or exchange the good, or if this proves impossible, the reimbursement of the sums paid. Since January 1st 2022, this guarantee has been extended to connected goods as well as to digital content and services. The repair of the defective product is also encouraged in France. Check out our FAQ to learn all about your guarantees if you purchase a non-compliant product in the EU.

A product is non-compliant when...

  • You cannot use the product as usual ;
  • Or its functionalities do not correspond to the description given by the seller ;
  • Or the product does not have the qualities announced in the advertisements ;
  • Or the product does not have the characteristics you agreed with the seller or does not fit with the specific purpose that you are looking for and which you have communicated to the seller ;
  • Or you did not receive all the accessories or the installation instructions are incomplete or incomprehensible ;
  • Or the product has a manufacturing defect.

This guarantee therefore does not cover apparent defects, deterioration of the product due to abnormal use of the product or wear and tear of the product, except if it is explicitly stated in the characteristics of the product that it is indestructible, for example.

Nor can you claim a defect in one or more characteristics of the good if you knew at the time of purchase that they were not part of the conformity criteria of the good.

If you purchased your product after January 1, 2022, it is compliant if :

  • it corresponds to the description, type, quantity and quality, including functionality, compatibility, interoperability, or any other characteristic provided for in the contract ;
  • it corresponds to the special use you were looking for and that you specified to the seller ;
  • it is delivered with all accessories and installation instructions ;
  • it is supplied with updates ;
  • it corresponds to the quantity, quality and other characteristics, including durability, functionality, compatibility and safety, that the consumer can legitimately expect for products of the same type, referring to the nature of the good or to the seller's statements, advertising or labelling.

Good to know : digital contents and services also benefit from a guarantee in case of defect. In addition to the above criteria, these products or their contract updates are considered non-compliant if they are incompatible, if they cannot be adapted to other devices or systems. Furthermore directive 2019/771 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sale of goods and directive 2019/770 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services will replace the current rules. Transposition into the national laws should have intervened by 1 July 2021 for an application by 1 January 2022.

On which products and in which countries does the warranty apply ?

You benefit from a legal guarantee of conformity on all new or used goods such as furniture, cars, computers, household appliances...purchased from a seller based in France or in a European Union Member state.

Since January 1, 2022, the warranty has been extended to connected products (connected watch or fridge, voice assistant...) as well as to digital services and content. You can therefore invoke the legal guarantee of conformity when, for example, your connected watch, an online video game, your favourite social network, your subscription to video on demand (VOD) or to a dating site does not work.

The guarantee applies even if you have not paid a price to benefit from these digital contents or services but if you have provided personal data.

Please note! There is no legal guarantee of conformity on :

  • goods sold on seizure or by authority of justice ;
  • second-hand goods sold at public auction ;
  • domestic animals (pets).
  • Some purely digital contents and services (internet access, sending SMS, gambling services, financial services, health care, open source software...) are subject to other regulations (article L. 224-25-3 §II and following of the Consumer Code). The legal guarantee of conformity does not apply either to digital content provided on a material support that only serves to transport the digital content (CD, DVD, USB keys, memory cards...).

Yes and no. Europe has set a principle : you benefit from a minimum 2-year guaranteefor any purchase in store or on the Internet from a professional seller based in the EU. However, each country was then free to set conditions of application adapted to its pre-existing rules or ideology. Thus, the duration of the guarantee and the terms for invoking it can differ from one country to another.

Good to know :

  • By buying in a physical store France : you benefit from the French rules regarding guarantees.
  • By buying online from France from a seller based in another European Member state directing its activities to France, for example via a website in .fr, written in French, offering the possibility to pay with French means of payment... you benefit in principle from French law.
  • By buying online from France from a European seller who does not target French customers (website not written in French, not in .fr, France not included in the delivery destination countries, no French customer service...), you may be subject to the law of the seller's country.

To find out which rules are applicable to your purchase: contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

 

Legal guarantee of conformity: duration and proof of defect

The legal guarantee of conformity is at least 2 years from delivery in most European countries (in France for example) but it can be longer : 3 years in Sweden for example.

Several countries also take into account the average lifespan of the product to determine the duration of the guarantee (up to 5 years in Iceland and Norway). The Netherlands for example use the expected average life of the product, its price, the type of shop it was purchased from or information from producers to determine the duration of the guarantee.

For connected goods purchased in 2022 which service or digital content turns out to be defective, you will benefit from a warranty of :

  • 2 years if the digital content was unique, for an indeterminate duration or less than 2 years (downloading a file, purchasing a movie on a platform),
  • equal to the duration of the subscription in the case of a continuous service of more than 2 years (subscription to a channel or digital radio streaming for example).

In 10 countries (BelgiumBulgariaIrelandItaliaLithuaniaLuxembourgMaltathe NetherlandsNorway and Romania), the legal guarantee is suspended during the repair or exchange of the product.

In other countries such as AustriaCroatiaGreece and Iceland, the repaired or exchanged product is guaranteed again for 2 years (from the delivery).

In France, a suspension of the guarantee until 2022 was only provided for under the commercial guarantee in the event of immobilisation for more than 7 days.

For products purchased starting 2022 that you have repaired under the legal guarantee of conformity, you benefit from a 6-month guarantee extension and any immobilisation period is taken into account.

If you choose to have the product repaired but the seller does not do so, you can ask for a replacement. This also leads to a renewal of the legal guarantee of conformity and an extension of the time limit to take legal action by two years.

Europe wanted to protect consumers because it is often difficult to provide proof of a defect, by resorting to an expert assessment, which can be costly. Therefore, for at least 6 months, any defect is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery and you do not need  to prove the defect to invoke the guarantee, unless this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity.

In France and in Portugal for example, this reversal of the burden of proof lasts for the entire duration of the guarantee. Thus, you do not have to prove to your seller a defect that would appear within two years of delivery of the product: it is presumed to have existed upon delivery and it is up to your seller to demonstrate that the product was in conformity. In Slovakia and Poland, for example, this period is one year.

Since January 1st 2022, you do not have to prove anything during the first 12 months after delivery. In France and Portugal, the period is still 2 years.

If you buy an online game or a connected good (smartphone, connected watch...) or if you subscribe to a video-on-demand service or any other contract that provides for the supply of digital content or services during a certain period, it is up to the trader to prove that he has delivered a compliant product or service throughout this period.

The guarantee may be excluded if the seller proves that the non-conformity is due to an incompatibility of the product with your digital environment. For example, you cannot play an online video game because your computer's processor or graphics card is not powerful enough, even though the minimum requirements for the game were specified by the seller before you purchased the game.

To determine whether the defect is due to incompatibility, the professional may ask you to cooperate in a reasonable, necessary and least intrusive way. If you do not cooperate, it may be up to you to prove the lack of conformity.

Legal guarantee: what are my rights ?

Contact your seller. He/she is responsible for the application of the legal guarantee of conformity. He/she should not redirect you to the manufacturer.

Your seller is in liquidation? In some countries, there is a possibility to go up the marketing chain and to invoke the guarantee with another party (reseller, manufacturer, etc.). This is for example the case in Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Sweden.

In France, such action is only possible within the framework of the legal guarantee for hidden defects.

In France, no deadline has been set but it is better to act quickly.

In 11 European countries, the consumer must inform the seller within 2 months of discovering the defect (Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, and Spain). In the other countries, the buyer must act within a reasonable period of time.

EU legislation foresees a so called hierarchy of remedies.

In case of lack of conformity, you are entitled (in order) :

  1. To request repair or exchange of the product from the seller within a reasonable period of time ; 
  2. If repair or exchange of the product is impossible, not carried out within a reasonable period of time (1 month for example in France and Bulgaria, or 15 days in LuxemburgHungaryRomania for example) or too complicated or too costly for the seller, you have the right to return the product and be refunded the sums paid or keep the good and obtain a partial refund.

In GreecePolandPortugal and Slovenia for example, you do not have to respect this hierarchy of solutions and you can freely choose between the different options.

In France, in the event of a lack of conformity, you can choose first between repair and replacement of the good or, failing that, and in a second stage (unless the defect is very serious), between a price reduction and the cancellation of the contract. The seller may refuse your choice if this would involve manifestly disproportionate costs. For contracts concluded after January 1, 2022, the seller must justify in writing his refusal to follow your choice.

If you chose the repair of the product rather than the exchange but the seller does not follow through, you can request the replacement of the good with a renewal of the legal guarantee of conformity for 2 years.

Since January 1st 2022, the seller must bring the item into conformity within a reasonable time and in any case within 30 days.

If the 30 days deadline is exceeded, or if the seller refuses to bring the good into conformity, you have the right to a price reduction or to the resolution of the contract and thus to a refund.  In case of supply of digital content or service, the seller must ensure compliance without undue delay.

  • Contact your seller to know the address and the terms of return of the product. In some cases, the return address is not the same as the one from which the parcel was sent.
  • Ask him/her to send you a return label.

Beware : if the trader asks you to advance the return costs and you accept, you become responsible for the transport and will have to assume the loss of the parcel (contact the carrier, ask for explanations, launch an investigation...).

The articles must be packed safely. It is possible to use the original packaging if it is solid and still in good condition, but it is not mandatory. Do not hesitate to take pictures of the goods and the package before closing and sending it.   

More information about deliveries in Europe

 

If you purchased your product starting 2022, the price reduction is proportional to the difference between the value of the good received and the value of the good without defects.

If you have purchased a connected watch or fridge, the seller must inform you and send you updates, i.e. changes to maintain, adapt or improve the functionality or security of the good or service.

You must receive updates :

  • either during a period that you can legitimately expect, given the product purchased ;
  • or for 2 years if the sales contract provided for the digital content to be supplied during a certain period ;
  • for the duration of the contract if the digital content is to be provided for more than 2 years.

If the update goes beyond what is provided for in the contract and is not necessary to ensure the conformity of your connected object, you are free to refuse it.

Therefore, the trader cannot deprive you of the original functionality of the connected object or digital service if you refuse it.

Exemples :

  • You buy a connected speaker. After one year, the seller imposes an update to improve certain functionalities that are not necessary for the proper functioning of the speaker. You can refuse this update without being deprived of the initial functionalities of the speaker.
  • An instant messaging service updates its terms of use. If this update is not necessary for the operation of the application, you can refuse the update without being deprived of the use of this messaging service. 

If you do not install the updates, the seller will not be liable for any lack of compliance resulting from such non-installation, unless you were not informed of the availability of the updates or were unable to install them due to deficiencies in the instructions.

You must return the products to the seller at his expense and he/she must reimburse you the price paid upon receipt of the products or proof of their shipment but no later than 14 days. The refund must be made by the same means of payment used at the time of purchase (unless otherwise agreed), and without additional charges.

For a digital service, in the event of termination of the contract, you must be given the opportunity to recover any content you may have created or provided, free of charge and within a reasonable period of time.  This right is available to you whether you have paid or provided personal data in exchange for the digital service.

It is up to the seller to bear his costs because the application of the legal guarantee of conformity must be free of charge for the consumer.

EU legislation clearly indicates that free of charge refers to the necessary costs incurred to bring the goods into conformity, particularly the cost of postage, labour and materials.

You choose to have your product repaired

For products purchased after January 1, 2022, if you choose to have the product repaired or exchanged, you must make your good available to the seller who will pick up the non-conforming product and then reinstall the repaired or exchanged good. This should not cost you any money. Otherwise, you have the right to ask for a reduction in the price of the product or to cancel the contract.

It should be pointed out that French legislation foresees that traders have the obligation to offer a non-surcharged phone number to consumers when the call concerns the proper execution of a contract, a complaint, the exercise of the right of withdrawal in the case of a distance sale, the implementation of a guarantee.

Yes, any period during which your device is immobilised for repair suspends the warranty. The same applies during the negotiation period when you are trying to reach an amicable settlement with your seller.

Yes, because the reparability of a product is now an essential characteristic. You must be informed at the time of purchase of the environmental qualities and characteristics of the products.

Examples: The product contains recycled materials or was made from renewable resources. This product is sustainable, compostable, repairable, recyclable. Or, this product contains hazardous substances, precious metals or rare earths.

You should also be aware of any premiums or penalties paid by the producer based on environmental performance criteria.

For products purchased starting 2022, if you choose to have the product repaired (rather than exchanged) but the seller does not do so, you can ask for the replacement of the good with a renewal of the legal guarantee of conformity for 2 years.

In France, from 2022, with the law of February 10, 2020 on the fight against waste and for a circular economy, you will have to know for 5 years from the marketing of the latest model whether spare parts for household appliances, small IT and telecommunications equipment, screens and monitors or medical equipment are available. Professionals in charge of the maintenance and repair of these devices must systematically offer to use second-hand spare parts rather than new parts.

 

It is the manufacturer or importer of movable goods who informs the seller of the availability or non-availability of spare parts and the time frame for their provision. For electrical and electronic equipment and furniture, if no information is given, the spare parts are presumed not to be available.

The manufacturers or importers of electrical and electronic equipment shall inform the sellers of their products as well as the professional repairers, at the request of the latter, of the details of the elements constituting the commitment to the duration of availability of spare parts. This information is made available in particular from a dematerialised support.

For certain electronic and electrical products, spare parts must be available for a minimum of 5 years from the time they are placed on the market.

The manufacturer or importer will have 15 days to provide the spare parts.

In Portugal, the consumer has the right to after-sales assistance and in particular to spare parts during the average life of his appliance.

In Greece (this is an obligation of the seller) and Romania (obligation of the manufacturer), spare parts must be made available throughout the expected lifetime of the product.

Some sellers sometimes mention the impossibility of repair due to the manufacturer’s refusal to supply spare parts.

In France, the manufacturer or importer must inform the seller of the "availability or unavailability of essential spare parts and, the period during which or the date until which these parts are available on the market. .... "

Since January 1st 2022, the manufacturer or importer has 15 days (not 2 months) to provide spare parts to professional sellers, reconditioners or repairers.

More information about the repair of devices in our article Spare parts and repair of products in Europe.

What guarantee for used or reconditioned goods ?

Yes, whether you buy a new or second-hand good, you benefit from a legal guarantee of conformity. However, the duration can be different (only 1 year in Germany for example).

In 14 European countries, you have a 2-year guarantee even for second-hand goods (BulgariaDenmarkEstoniaFinlandFranceGreeceIcelandIrelandLeetoniaLithuaniaMaltathe NetherlandsNorwaySweden and United Kingdom). However, you may have to prove the defect.

In France, for example, you have a 2-year guarantee for second-hand goods but the above mentioned reversal of burden of proof only operates during the first 6 months after delivery. From 2022, with the law of February 10, 2020 on the fight against waste and for a circular economy, this duration will be extended to 12 months.

Yes, if the good is still under guarantee, i.e. if it was bought less than two years ago. You will therefore have the same rights as your private seller would have had towards his initial professional seller concerning the legal guarantee, as well as the commercial warranty.

There is still no definition at European level of a reconditioned product. It is sometimes considered as a new product (if the device put back on sale has never been used for example), sometimes as a second-hand product (repaired with spare parts).

In France, a reconditioned product is always second-hand. It is a product that has undergone tests to meet the legal obligations of safety and consumer use. Its functionalities must have been tested and if necessary, repaired. It must have been emptied of all personal data recorded by the previous user.

The difference between new and used goods has consequences on the proof of defect : you don't have to prove anything for 6 months for used goods (or 1 year if you bought your used goods starting 2022), 24 months for new goods.

Other guarantees

In France, in addition of the conformity guarantee, you benefit from a guarantee of hidden defects (articles 1641 to 1649 of the French Civil Code). Hidden defects occur when the item is "unfit for the use for which it is intended, or which so diminishes its use that the buyer would not have acquired it, or would only have paid a lower price for it, if he had known about them". A defect is said to be hidden when you do not detect it during a simple examination.

You have 2 years from the discovery of the defect to act in guarantee for hidden defects.

But contrary to the legal guarantee of conformity, you must in all cases provide proof of the hidden defect, for example by an expert assessment.

This guarantee is particularly interesting if your seller has been placed in compulsory liquidation for example and can no longer assume the legal guarantee of conformity because its allows you to go up the links in the marketing chain aigainst the manufacturer for example, which is not possible under the legal guarantee of conformity. 

This type of guarantee is unknown to most European sellers because it only exists in FranceBelgiumSpainLuxembourgItaly and Romania.

The commercial warranty is a contract in which the trader, your seller or the manufacturer, guarantees the repair, replacement or reimbursement of the good in case of defect.

The commercial warranty does not replace the legal guarantee of conformity, nor the guarantee against hidden defects. Moreover, in France, commercial warranty contracts must mention the existence of the guarantee of conformity AND the guarantee of hidden defects.

The seller or producer who offers/sells you a commercial warranty must specify its content, its implementation modalities, its price, its duration, its territorial scope as well as the name and postal and telephone contact details of the guarantor.

The manufacturer's warranty is a commercial warranty. Any retailer can offer it to you, free of charge or against payment (after-sales service). However, it does not cancel the legal guarantees which are the responsibility of your seller.

Insist on the application of the legal guarantee of conformity to your seller ! A 2-year warranty is a right, not an option !

Moreover, commercial guarantee contracts must mention the existence of the guarantee of conformity AND, in France, the guarantee of hidden defects.

Commercial warranties vary from one country to another, from one seller to another. For a commercial warranty, whether free of charge or not, to be advantageous, it must offer more than the legal guarantee of conformity.  

It can be advantageous if, for example :

  • its duration is longer than the legal guarantee ;
  • you do not have to prove the existence of a defect (as a reminder, in France as in Portugal, you do not have to prove anything during the 2 years of the legal guarantee of conformity) ;
  • a replacement device is offered to you for the duration of the repair ;
  • the return of the defective product is organised by the seller ;
  • a home repair procedure is provided ;
  • all costs of expertise, repair or replacement of the product are covered by the guarantor.

Find out what your rights are before accepting a commercial warranty, especially a paid one !

Good to know : If the seller is always responsible for the application of the legal guarantee, in terms of commercial warranty he/she can redirect you to a repair center for example or to the manufacturer.

The producer can grant you a commercial guarantee for more than 2 years. This is called the commercial guarantee of durability. The manufacturer is obliged to repair or replace the goods during the period indicated in the offer of the commercial guarantee of durability.

Any service offered by the seller on the sold product (repair, change of parts...) which is not covered by the legal guarantee or a commercial warranty is part of the after-sales service (SAV). The after-sales services are defined in a contract of which a copy must be given to you.

If the package arrives damaged, refuse it and indicate your reasons for refusal directly on the delivery note. Then contact your seller and the transport company in writing, preferably by a registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt + e-mail with acknowledgement of receipt, as soon as possible. Ask for the removal of the damaged product and an exchange with a compliant good. More detailed information in our article on deliveries in Europe.

For any online purchase from a European professional seller, you have at least 14 days to change your mind and 14 days to return your order without having to justify yourself. More information in our article on your cooling off right.

Any seller selling his products in France must offer an instruction manual in French. More detailed information in our article on deliveries in Europe.

Who can help me in case of a dispute with a European seller or transport company ?

If you are unable to come to a solution with a seller based in another European Union Member state, in the United Kingdom, Iceland or Norway, do not hesitate to contact the European Consumer Centre of your country of residence.

If you live in France, in case of dispute with a French seller, please contact a French consumer association.

You also have the possibility of calling upon a mediator if the professional has adhered to such a system.