Q: In a recent article, you explained that legally, consumers do not have any rights when, after purchasing a product, they realise they didn’t make a right choice and end up with a product that is unsuitable for their needs.
What would our rights be if the reason for returning a product is an irreparable defect in manufacture? In such a case, what is the statutory warranty period? Would a refund be due if the defective product cannot be replaced by a similar one? If a credit note is accepted, do consumers lose their right to request a refund? Do consumer rights vary from one EU country to another?
A: Answering your first question, if the product purchased has a defect that cannot be repaired, in the first instance the consumer would be entitled to a brand new replacement.
When a replacement is not possible, or if opted for may cause a significant inconvenience to the consumer, the latter would be entitled to a cash refund. Legally, consumers are entitled to ask for such remedies within two years from the date of purchase of the defective or non-conforming product.
Whether the right of a refund would be forfeited if a credit note is accepted, the answer is yes. Even though a credit note is not listed as a legal remedy, it is a possible solution to a problem, and if the consumer accepts such a solution, they cannot change their mind and then ask for a cash refund.
Consumers’ legal rights are basically the same throughout EU member countries. There may be some slight difference from one country to another, but the basic concepts are the same.