To file a complaint

Updated: 8/27/2014

The rules regarding consumer protection within the European Union are harmonized as a result of the EU directive 1999/44EG. 

The directive guarantees a uniform minimum level of consumer protection and the Member States may adopt more strict regulations to ensure a higher level of consumer protection.

When is a product defective?

According to this EU directive a product is not defective just by your dissatisfaction with the quality. The seller's obligation is to deliver a product which complies with the contract. To lower the risks of doubts there are definitions on when a product is defective.

A product is defective in following cases:

When the product does not comply with the agreement

  • If the product does not comply with the description given by the seller and possess the qualities of the product which the seller has held out to the consumer as a sample or model.
  • If the product does not fit for the purposes for which goods of the same type are normally used.
  • If the product does not fit for any particular purpose for which the consumer requires them and which was made known to the seller at the time of conclusion of the contract, and accepted by the seller.
  • If the quality and performance is not in satisfactory, given the nature of the goods and taking into account the public statements made about them by the seller, the producer or his representative.

If the installation causes error

  • If the seller upon purchase undertaken to install the product, the product is considered defective if deficiencies in the installation causing the error. This is primarily for those situations where delivery and installation are included in the purchase of such as washing machines and dishwashers.
  • If the item is to be installed by you and the incorrect installation is due to a shortcoming in the installation instructions.

Incorrect promises

  • The product is defective if its properties do not match what the seller promised. This applies to both oral and written agreement, as well as advertising in various forms. Seller escape liability if he can show that the information has been corrected in time or that the data has not affected the purchase.
  • The seller is also responsible for information provided by the manufacturer or his representative. For such information the seller can avoid liability if he proves
    that he did not know or should have known the information.

Your rights if the product is defective

A common set of consumer rights for consumers are valid no matter where in the EU the goods are purchased, which are enforceable for at least 2 years from delivery of the goods.
For example, if you order a laptop which turns out to have less memory than it is supposed to have, the problem may not be obvious to you immediately, but it is still an inherent fault in the product which the trader must remedy if you discover it within the limitation period.

When a consumer reports the lack of conformity to the seller, he or she may be entitled to expect:

  • the goods to be repaired or replaced free of charge within a reasonable period and without major inconvenience to the consumer.
  • a reduction to be made to the price, or for the contract to be rescinded (i.e. the contract ends, as if it was never present), if repair or replacement is impossible or disproportionate, or if the seller has not remedied the problem within a reasonable period or without major inconvenience to the consumer. The consumer is not entitled to have the contract rescinded if the lack of conformity is minor.

If you want to make a complaint

Contact the trader as soon as you have discovered the defect. (The Member States are allowed in their national regulation to prescribe that you have to make a complaint within two months after you discovered or should have discovered the defect). Explain why you think the product is defective. Make the complaint in writing. The seller must be given the possibility to correct the fault, you can not have someone else repairing the product and then claim money from the seller.