back to article EU ministers strip consumer rights law of controversial elements

EU member states have given a proposed Consumer Rights Directive the go-ahead but have removed its most controversial elements. A European Parliament vote in March is the last hurdle to the passing of the law. Consumer protection advocates have said that the new version of the Directive will have little practical impact on UK …


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  1. Andy Livingstone


    Could we first have the two year product guarantee as in other EC States, please. One thing at a time, Minister? We don't all use the John Lewis list, you know.

    1. Tom 38
      IT Angle


      Oooh, but you should - especially for things like TVs. John Lewis are actually very competitive on prices, and give you a nice free 5 year warranty on most things. Their motto, never knowingly undersold, actually gives you a pretty good deal on boxed consumer things, less so on their on-brand bits and pieces - good but pricey.

      1. Andy Livingstone

        Oh sod it

        My last sentence was an attempt at political sarcasm - total failure. Any John Lewis discounts for the plug?? No, thought not.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Already have that

      Under EU legislation that's been active since the early 2000s, consumers already Have a 2-year warranty on (at least) all electronic products. Even where a product has been bought with a 1-year warranty, if you are a end-consumer (not a company, not a wholesaler) you still have the right to that second year. Bonus items like on-site repairs, however, need not be extended beyond the first year.

      See Art.5 of the European Product Warranty Directive (1999).

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Why?

      Actually I'd rather have a warranty of any period that was worth the paper its printed on than a statutory two-year one that's worth sod-all.

      Here's how it actually works in most places on the continent: You buy your product and it goes titsup. You go back to the shop, who point to the manufacturer's warranty terms and tell you to fuck off. You get in touch with the manufacturer who say they'll be only too happy to fix it, if you mail it to their service centre in Spain or whereever. You work out that the cost of mailing the thing and paying the mail costs back from the manufacturer (who *will* use the most expensive shipping possible) outweigh the cost of buying a new one and they get another sale out of you.

      For high-value / large items, the manufacturer will probably have local service (things like tellies that can't be mailed in). In such cases they'll come to you and take it away. You get it back somewhere north of two months later (I kid you not) with a load of scratches and a whole slew of new faults to go with the one it set off with, which hasn't been fixed. The concept of a loan item to replace yours while its away is completely alien. For kicks 'n giggles their service centre may move while they have your whatever-it-is and lose / drop / destroy it in the move. Their liability here extends to providing a suitable replacement, which means used which, in turn, means that shonky ex-demo model with the dodgy tuner that we've had kicking around since Noah left it there. Eventually you give up, buy a new one and they get another sale out of you (do you see the pattern here?).

      Ho hum. One of the bits in this ropey piece of legislation that the Brits objected too was the one that absolved retailers of all warranty responsibilty. Well done lads, this piece of crap deserved to die.........

    4. mhoulden

      No need

      Under UK law your rights apply for up to *six* years. Two would be a substantial reduction.

  2. Graham Marsden

    "a lot of time and effort was spent for very little"

    So, no change there...

  3. Pypes

    Why do we harmonise?

    I'm a qualified electrician, who studied under the 16th edition of BS761"requirements for electrical installations" then about 2 years ago the brought out the 17th edition, which sought to 'harmonize' the regulations across the EU, all electrical work done in the UK is now expected to be done to the requirements of the new standards.

    In my professional opinion, and I'm you'll find a significant proportion of electricians who will agree with me, installations done to the letter of the requirements of the 17th edition are less safe than those done under the 16th.

    So exactly who's interest is it in that we are all singing from the same regulatory hymn sheet? I wasn't aware of any roving bands of electricians constantly trawling Europe for work with no regard for national borders* So a superior standard is left by the wayside as the great European bureaucracy lurches ever forward down the road of total European integration, and the people of these fair isles are just a little bit less safe every time they switch on an appliance

    * There is a secondary issue of whether someone who qualified in lets say, Spain, by spelling his name correctly and wiring a plug without killing anyone (I don't actually know the requirements for Spanish electricians, I've just heard endless horror stories and thought to use them as rhetoric) should be recognised as a "competent person" when working in the UK

  4. John Sturdy

    I think there was some point to it

    According to a friend of mine who works for Our Grey Masters, the variations it was meant to remove were the ones that deterred lots of web-based shops (e.g. many Amazon Marketplace electronics suppliers) from shipping things internationally.

  5. Tuomas Hosia

    EU comissars are thoroughly bribed

    "The European Commission proposed the Directive, which would have harmonised many aspects of consumer law."

    Yes and we all know what "harmonisation" means to Commission: Lowest protection is made mandatory and maximum allowed to everyone. Even the word "consumer" implies that there shall be no rights whatsoever for those: "Citizens" have rights, "consumers" don't have.

    " It was opposed in countries, including the UK, where it would have reduced consumer protection."

    And what happened? Commission made some pretty rewording without changing the contents at all and ordered Parliament to accept it or even worse will happen.

    Just like Central Committee in USSR.

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