back to article Gremlins in the first six months? It's the seller's problem – EU court

A ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Thursday puts the onus on tech companies to prove that a product was not faulty at time of sale if it malfunctions in the first six months. In the words of the ECJ: “Any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within six months of the delivery of goods is, in principle, to …

  1. Frank Zuiderduin

    Nothing new

    "A ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on Thursday puts the onus on tech companies to prove that a product was not faulty at time of sale if it malfunctions in the first six months."

    That's nothing but the confirmation of existing law.

    1. noboard

      Re: Nothing new

      I think in the UK you were covered as long as you wanted a like for like replacement, the new rule seems to cover us even if we want our money back.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        Re: Nothing new

        You were always entitled to your money back, if the goods were faulty. Accepting a replacement or in-store credit instead was your option as the customer. Just most didn't know that and shops try and use that to get the best they can out of the situation.

        In Germany the seller have to be given 3 chances to rectify the problem. If they cannot rectify the problem satisfactorily then you can have your money back. Giving them the chance to repair is fair enough in most cases. Although with a burnt-out wreck you don't have much of a chance of repairing it.

        I had that with a set of speakers, there was a loose wire and they fixed it. Another time the motherboard on a gadget was defective, but they refused to replace it, so after the third failed attempt, I just got my money back.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Nothing new

          "You were always entitled to your money back, if the goods were faulty. Accepting a replacement or in-store credit instead was your option as the customer."

          No:

          Replacement, repair or money back, sellers choice. Two years most products under SOGA in probably all of EU.

          Forcing buyer to take a in-store credit is illegal.

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            Re: Nothing new

            "Forcing buyer to take a in-store credit is illegal."

            Do you have a link to relevant European (not just British) directives?

            All you are ever offered in France is a credit voucher and asking for money is met with a flat "non" plus them acting like you just insulted their mothers.

            Really, cloning Napoléon would be easier that getting money out of a French supermarket/shop/chain...

            1. Dr_N Silver badge

              Re: Nothing new

              [rant] Bloody EU, interfering with peoples' rights to be ripped off! [/rant]

              "All you are ever offered in France is a credit voucher and asking for money is met with a flat "non" plus them acting like you just insulted their mothers."

              Pay with a card, return item, get credit charged back to card.

              It's the law.

              Which shops are you having problems with?

              1. heyrick Silver badge

                Re: Nothing new

                @ Dr_N:

                Paid with a debit card. Returned item. Got credit voucher good for three months. This was the SuperU. If the law specifies bring reimbursed, which law? All I can find mentioning being getting money back is distance buying, not in-store buying.

            2. James O'Shea

              Re: Nothing new

              "Really, cloning Napoléon would be easier that getting money out of a French supermarket/shop/chain..."

              That's because you're cloning a Corsican. Who lost. Cloning Wellington would be more effective.

              Up, Guards, and at them!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Possibly more apt?

                I would have gone with: "Hard pounding, gentlemen. Let's see who pounds the longest."

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nothing new

              That's why I pay my dues to the local Union des consommateurs. Simply mentioning the possibility of getting them involved is often sufficient… And, for cross-border disputes, Euroguichet is a term worth feeding to the search engine of your choice.

            4. Mage Silver badge

              Re: Nothing new

              Ireland & UK is all I know.

              their SOGA implementation similar.

              Of course ALL the major retailers have to be threatened with court. They wave 90 day makers warranties and credit vouchers.

              What French supermarkets offer might not be legal. I have no idea.

    2. Adam Foxton

      Re: Nothing new

      Existing law in the UK, yes. But what about the rest of Europe? Anyone able to update us on how this affects the other however many countries would be covered by the ECJ judgement?

    3. Jason Bloomberg

      Re: Nothing new

      If the article had included a link to the case and/or judgement it would have better explained things -

      http://curia.europa.eu/jcms/jcms/P_159405/

      There seems to be a growing lack of source citation by El Reg reporters lately.

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    "...That's nothing but the confirmation of existing law..."

    I thought I was missing something, or that perhaps we just have better protection in the UK but it did read very much the same as what I'd already consider normal behaviour.

    1. Nigel Whitfield.

      It does seem odd; looking at the Directive on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees, it clearly states

      "Unless proved otherwise, any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within six months of delivery of the goods shall be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery unless this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity."

      That's Directive 1999/44/EC for those who like to look this sort of thing up; full text downloadable here.

      Interestingly, some of the text in that is - as far as my recollection goes - pretty much word for word the same as the UK's SOGA. Another of those examples where British best practice has influenced the rest of Europe, I would say.

      Also, given that that time limit is pretty clearly stated in the directive (and if it had been superseded, why is the Consumer Rights page at europa.eu still pointing to it?), you have to wonder why someone fought this all the way to the ECJ.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not sure this is something we routinely understand in the UK

        Doesn't the article say that this was about a second hand car? If I bought a second hand car in the UK and it caught on fire some months later, I wouldn't be surprised if the garage wanted proof that it had sold me something dodgy before paying out. Especially if the car had been scrapped before the h-garage could look at it.

        A new car would be a different matter......

  3. hplasm
    Devil

    Windows 10

    Better be up to scratch then...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Windows 10

      Well, if you're not happy with the free upgrade, I'm sure Microsoft will give you back the money you paid for the upgrade.

      1. hplasm
        Windows

        Re: Windows 10

        It's only free if your time is worth nothing...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Great that's Apple F*&^ed then

    Great they'll now have to replace the lightening cables every time they die for free rather than charging £15 a pop for a cable which never lasts anything like 6 months. Don't believe me? well take a look at the Apple website at the reviews, 501 reviews saying how shit it is compared with 21 happy customers.

    1. James O'Shea

      Re: Great that's Apple F*&^ed then

      Interesting. I have seen people complain about Lightening cables before, but... I have an Official Apple Lightening Cable(tm) for my iPhone 5s. I've had it since I got it new on launch day. No problems. I also have a Cheap Chinese Knockoff Lightening cable (the Official Apple cable lives at home, connected to the Official Apple WallWart(tm); the Cheap Chinese Knockoff lives in my laptop bag, with a car power plug and another wallwart, both Cheap Chinese Knockoffs) I have had no problems with either cable over a period of nearly four years now. What on _Earth_ are you people doing to those poor innocent cables that you kill them in six months?

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Great that's Apple F*&^ed then

      Since Apple gives you a one year manufacturer's warranty on the product, why don't you just take the cable back for a new one? Most products have manufacturer's warranty over six months, so this particular ruling gives you very little that you didn't have anyway.

      Apart from that, there are people who treat their stuff like shit, and nobody will replace the cable if your pet hamster eats it.

      1. Detective Emil
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Great that's Apple F*&^ed then

        It's a puzzle. My daughter has the knack of destroying Apple cables, and I don't. But I've never caught her being notably evil to one. My guess is that Apple tends to err on the shiny side of svelte versus bomb-proof. There are of course bomb-proof aftermarket cables available, but everybody who needs one has first to destroy and potentially whinge about the first-party one they got in the box with the Apple device.

        1. TheAnt

          Re: Great that's Apple F*&^ed then

          My son eats them too. The cheap Chinese knock offs last longer than the real Apple ones in my experience. Talking to other parent they all report the same thing, they'd last long if they were made of cheese strings. The same son manages to keep micro USB cables working fine, even where the buying policy tends to be see how many more than 5 cables you can buy for less than a fiver.

          The normally very helpful Apple store people aren't so helpful when it comes to cables claiming the little darling must have done something to them.

  5. 100113.1537

    The reason this case is notable is because this goes beyond national consumer protection legislation and "enshrines" in precedence the responsibility of the vendor. Yes, it may be moot in the UK (and probably most other countries), but national legislation is a different thing to ECJ case law and the critical factor here is the burden of proof - which now lies with the vendor to prove that the item was not at fault as opposed to the purchaser having the burden of proof.

    You will also note that the actual case referred to a second-hand car purchase. Most consumer protection law refers to new items and has exemptions for pre-owned goods. This case seems to remove these exemptions from the vendors responsibility, thus extending the liability. As such, this is a very big deal for sectors such as the second hand car market and other vendors of pre-owned goods. Expect to see this challenged at some level.

  6. gnasher729 Silver badge

    The case discussed doesn't seem right though. She buys a car. It burns out after four months. She demands her money back after twelve months, but _after_ the car has been scrapped.

    The law says "it is _presumed_ that it is the sellers fault", but still the seller must be allowed to prove that it wasn't. Since the car is scrapped, all possible evidence seems destroyed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Customer Service as a Joke

    I had an egregious example of this just a month ago.Bought a laptop from Amazon. It crashed while running the initial Windows Update, and the MBR was corrupted. There was no recovery partition, or installation CD, so I was (after doing various things, but hampered by having no Win8.x disks at all) unable to restore to factory condition and retry.

    End supplier said it is a software problem not covered by warranty. Suggested I pay £50 or so to get a high street shop to repair it.

    Acer (the manufacturer) said it was nothing to do with them, but they would fix it in a month given £38.

    Amazon said that even though they had taken my money, it was nothing to do with them as the true seller was the end supplier, so they determined to take no further interest in the proceedings.

    So basically, the manufacturer, wholesaler and retailer all denying any responsibility for a defective product. The runaround they gave me was starting to get epic, until I invoked some legal phrases.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warrantee repair

    Used to do RMAs years ago.

    If the customer stuffed the hardware there will most likely be evidence.

    I've also seen quite a few grey areas in which the support manager makes a decision based on repeat custom. If you're a one-off or small fry customer you're screwed.

    I think this is a very sensible decree which reinforces the "fit for purpose" consumer rights laws.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Warrantee repair

      Being polite but patiently insistent gets you miles.

      "You should all drop dead for the dreadful product you've supplied" will get usually cause more trouble.

      "It failed of it's own accord, what's the most helpful thing you can do to get me a replacement under my warranty." etc will be a better start.

      This will not sort out the few bad stores who don't offer the required replacements, but helps those who actually do want to help customers. Don't make them want to cause trouble!

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Warrantee repair

        "Being polite but patiently insistent gets you miles."

        Well met.

        It is folly to start the contact with rudeness. Don't burn the bridge before crossing it.

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