Warranty claims in stores
If the purchased product exhibits any defects, the customer has the right to claim warranty, regardless whether it was bought long range, outside of usual sales premises or in an ordinary store.
Goods can be claimed regardless of the way they were bought.
Consumer rights are determined according to when he bought the goods:
- Rights concerning faults of goods bought before 31. 12. 2013 are determined by law no. 40/1964 Sb. (the old civil code).
- Rights concerning faults of goods bought since 1. 1. 2014 are determined by law no. 89/2012 Sb. (the new civil code).
Ways of handling the claim (deadlines, confirmations etc.) are specified by law no. 634/1992 Sb., on consumer protection.
The legal interpretations concerning claims in this publication are based on the civil code valid since 1. 1. 2014 (law no. 89/2012 Sb.), while, at the same time, we point out the most important differences between the earlier and current legislation.
Responsibility of the salesman for the quality of goods upon handover to the customer and deadline for exercising rights concerning defective goods
According to legislation effective from 1. 1. 2014, the salesman’s responsibility to the buyer is, that at the time, when the buyer was taking over the goods:
- the item has the properties, which both parties agreed upon, or, if there is no agreement, such properties that the seller or manufacturer described or which the buyer expected given the nature of the goods and based upon the advertisement
- the item is fit for the purpose, which the seller states is its function, or to which the item of this kind is normally used
- the item fits or corresponds in quality or execution to a prearranged sample or model, provided the quality or execution has been determined according to a given sample or model.
- The amount, measurement or weight of the item corresponds to given information
- The item complies with legal requirements
If the item doesn’t fulfill these above stated characteristics, it may be considered faulty.
If the fault asserts itself in the course of six months after purchase, the assumption is that the goods in question were already faulty on purchase. If the seller were to disagree with this assertion, he has to prove the opposite, i.e. e.g., that the fault was caused by the consumer through misused handling of the goods. Thus the burden of evidence in these first six months is on the seller (entrepreneur).
After the six months have passed, the burden of evidence passes to the consumer, who then has to prove to the seller (e.g. by means of expert opinion), that he is responsible for the fault.
It is possible to claim for most goods for up to 24 months after handover, provided the reason for the claim is based on a fault of the product.
The buyer is entitled to claim goods within these time limits:
- 24 months – faults, that arise in new consumer goods,
- When selling used goods, it is possible to settle on shortening the time limit from 24 months, to up to 12 months,
- 5 years – in the cases of hidden faults of constructions connected to the ground through solid foundations.
The above given time limits for claims cannot be shortened, not even by agreement.
It is necessary to inform the seller of the fault, as soon as it is found.
The law giving time limits cannot be interchanged with the durability of the goods, and common wear and tear is not considered a fault.
A fault is not the same as wear and tear.
Several types of goods (for example groceries, fodder, cosmetics) may be subject to different time limits than the ones given above, in conjunction with special legislation, if there is another time limit stated, such as an expiry date (on the packaging, say) or, for perishable goods, the time, during which the item can be used (e.g. expiry date on the packaging of a yoghurt)
As for items that were sold as already used these can’t be claimed for faults corresponding to usage or wear and tear, which were already in place when the sale took place.
Items, that were sold for a lesser price, because they (although new) already had a fault in place before the sale, cannot be claimed for those faults, for which the price has been decreased. The seller is obliged to advise the buyer, that the item has a fault, and specify the nature of it, if it is not already evident from the nature of the sale. Other faults can be claimed in the normal way.
If the consumer requests, the seller is obliged to issue a written confirmation of purchase (warranty card), specifying the rights the customer is due, if the given item were to prove faulty.
The seller will state his identification on the warranty card, and, if necessary, explain to the consumer in a clear and concise manner the content, scope, requirements and duration of his responsibilities, and how to exercise the rights resulting from them.
Provided the nature of the item does not prevent it, the written confirmation may be replaced by a document of purchase (sales slip) containing stated information.
The seller´s responsibilities pertaining to possible faults of the item, must be at least the same, if not bigger, in scope, as specified by the manufacturer (i.e. if the manufacturer states a 3 year warranty, the seller is obliged to provide this service to the customer).
Defective performance rights
Interpretations on which rights pertaining to which faults, may be applied by the consumer towards the seller, slightly differ at the present time in certain areas. In general, if a dispute arises between the consumer and the seller, the authority legally authorized to decide in such matters, is the court.
In general, if a fault arises, for which the seller is responsible, the consumer may, (in accordance with § 2169 of the civil code), depending on the nature of the fault demand one or any of these rights:
- Repair of the goods,
- Exchange of the goods,
- A discount off the price of the goods,
- Withdrawal from the contract (refund of purchase price).
During the course of handling the fault claim, these solutions may occur: repair of the item, exchange of the item, discount off the price, or a refund of the purchase price
- If the fault may be easily removed, the customer has the right to a repair of the item.
- An exchange is possible if it is not disproportionate to the nature of the fault. A request may be considered disproportionate, if, for example, the customer were to request an exchange of the item in the case, when the fault may be removed without further delay. (E.g. a simple replacement of a screw or a different part of a used bicycle, its adjustment, the sewing of a fallen off button on a shirt etc.).
If the fault relates to only a part of the item, the consumer may demand an exchange of the said part.
For goods bought before 31. 12. 2013 the old civil code states, that in the case of an exchange of old goods for new, this then results in the start of a new warranty deadline, the new civil code, valid since 1. 1. 2014 does not define this to be so.
- If it is not possible to remove the fault by repair or exchange, the consumer may withdraw from the contract and demand a refund of the purchase price.
- The right to choose the delivery of a new item, the exchange of its parts or withdrawal from the contract also belongs to the consumer also in these cases:
- The seller did not remove the fault during the legally defined time limit (see chapter 5.4) or,
- If the consumer may not use the item properly, due to repeated occurrences of the fault after repair, or due to a higher number of faults.
A repeated occurrence is usually considered, when the same fault appears for the third time, a higher number of faults than equals three or more faults, which occur simultaneously and prevent the consumer from using the item in its intended manner.
- The buyer has a right to a proportionate discount, concerning goods bought after 1. 1. 2014, in these cases:
- If he does not withdraw from the contract or if he does not exercise his right to have a new item delivered free of faults, or to have parts of the old one exchanged, or the whole item repaired,
- In such cases, where the seller cannot deliver him a new item without faults, exchange its parts or repair the item, or if the seller does not fulfill his obligations in a sufficiently timely manner, or
- If the removal of the fault (i.e. repair or exchange) were to cause considerable difficulties for the consumer
If the purchase price of the goods has not yet been paid, the buyer does not have to pay a part of the purchase price appropriate to his right of discount, until the fault has been removed.
If it is proven, during a claim for a fault of the item, that the seller is responsible for the said fault, and that the removal of such a fault would cause significant difficulties for the customer (for example, if the consumer only has one pair of winter shoes, and snow has just fallen), the consumer may ask for an appropriate discount of the said item instead of repair, and try to repair the item himself, or have it repaired somewhere else, where it will be done faster. In such cases, however, the fault, to which the discount has been applied, cannot be claimed again if it reappears. The seller also is not held responsible for any possible faults created due to the consumer’s unprofessional repair attempts. It is still possible to claim other unrelated faults, if they appear.
- Concerning items sold for a lesser price, due to having defects, or already used items, the buyer has a right to an appropriate discount instead of the right of exchange.
- Apart from rights concerning defects of goods, consumers can also claim damages, if these arise.
If the consumer buys a refrigerator, which suddenly stops freezing, and groceries get spoilt as a result, or if it starts to deliver electric shocks and causes damages or harm to the consumer’s health, the consumer may, apart from claiming for the fridge (requests for repair, exchange and so on) claim compensation for incurred damages, provided he does so within a three year time period, according to general provision § 2894 and following of the civil code. If the damage exceeds an amount of 500 EUR, he can also exercise rights stemming from provisions § 2939 to § 2943 concerning damages caused due to a defect in the product.
It is necessary to differentiate the above stated law giving responsibilities of the seller concerning defective performance (for which the term guarantee is no longer commonly used) from the so-called quality guarantee, which the seller provides voluntarily to the customer beyond the legal requirements.
The seller may offer quality guarantee to the customer on top of legally required defective performance rights.
A quality guarantee ensures that the item will, during a determined time period, be fit to use for its intended purpose or that it will retain its normal qualities. Stating a quality guarantee in an advertisement or on the packaging has the same effect. A guarantee may also pertain to a single part of the item. The seller is not held responsible for faults, which the customer created himself.
The guarantee starts the moment the item is delivered to the buyer; if the item was sent according to the contract, it starts from the arrival of the item to its destination. If the item in question is to be installed or started by someone other than the seller, the guarantee starts the day the item is to start functioning, provided the buyer ordered such installation three weeks after taking over the item at the latest, and provided the necessary cooperation in a swift and dutiful manner. (e.g. a customer buys a gas boiler, which will then be installed in his house by a gas worker).
If the contract and guarantee statement list different guarantee times, or if there are conflicting guarantees on the packaging and in the warranty card, the longer one is regarded as the valid one. If, on the other hand, the two parties agree to a different guarantee time, than the one stated on the packaging as shelf life, the contractual agreement takes precedence.
5.4 Exercising and handling (warranty) claims
Warranty laws apply to the salesperson who is accountable for the selling of the product. However, if there is a different person, assigned for repairs, and specified as such on the warranty sheet, and if this person is located in a place nearer to the buyer, the buyer may apply for his claim to the person, assigned for repair of the product. This person will then conduct the repair in the warranty period agreed upon by the buyer and seller during the sale of the product.
A consumer bought a mobile phone in Prague, which, after several months of use, has started showing signs of failure, for which the salesman is responsible. The summary of warranty services, which has been included with the phone, lists a service shop in Hradec Králové, where the consumer lives. The consumer may also, if he so wishes, apply for his claim to this service shop, which can ascertain the failure and, if it is possible, also repair the device. If it became clear, for example, that the failure is unrepairable and therefore the product (which the service shop does not have in stock) has to be replaced, or if the service shop did not properly handle the claim, the customer may then file his claim with the salesperson, who is responsible for the subsequent handling of the warranty claim.
The consumer must present the product to the seller, inform him about the nature of the defect or malfunction, and where the law gives the consumer a choice between multiple options (e.g. repair or exchange of the product), he must also determine the way he would like his claim to be handled. The chosen option cannot be changed without the consent of the seller. This of course does not apply, if the customer asked for the repair of a product, that turns out to be irreparable, or is not repaired in time.
The claimant may prove his purchase (i.e. that he purchased given goods from this seller, and when this exchange took place) in any verifiable way (e.g. a warranty sheet, sales slip, evidence of internet purchase and so on)
Purchase of goods without a receipt does not have to benefit the consumer, because in the case of defective goods, it is difficult to prove to the seller, that the given product was indeed bought from him.
With the exception of cases where another person is assigned for the repair, the seller is bound to accept the claim in any of his places of business, where accepting the claim is possible, with regard to the selection of sold goods and/or provided services. Alternatively he can also accept the claim in his seat of business. There has to be an employee authorized to deal with warranty claims, present in the place of business, during the whole period of business hours.
If a business firm has a chain of sports stores and a chain of restaurants spread out through the Czech Republic, and the consumer buys, let‘s say a swimsuit in one of these sports shops during a trip to Třeboň, he may file a claim even after his return to Brno, provided he does so in a sports shop, seeing as he probably would not be successful in a restaurant.
It is necessary to distinguish such cases as the one above from franchising, which corresponds to several stores of the same brand, which are owned by various entrepreneurs. In such cases, the product can be claimed only in the stores belonging to the same owner.
The seller (alternatively a guaranteed service shop) is obliged to give the consumer, after receiving the product that is being claimed, a written confirmation, which has to include
- When the consumer made the claim
- What its content is
- What form of claim the consumer wants
When making a claim, the consumer has the right to receive a written confirmation about the fact, that the seller received the claim and that it is being worked on.
After the end of the claim process, the seller has a duty to send the consumer a confirmation, which must include:
- A date and the way the claim was executed
- A confirmation about the possible repair and how long it will take
If the claim was rejected, the customer has the right to ask for a written document, which explains why the claim was rejected. The customer can use this document as evidence in court, if the customer does not agree with the way the claim was rejected.
The seller or his verified employee, are obliged to decide what they will do with the claim immediately. In a more complex situation they have 3 days. The claim (including the removal of the defect) must be done, without any unnecessary delay, no later than 30 days after the claim went to effect, as long as the seller and the customer do not agree to a longer deadline.
If some of these duties are broken, it is possible to turn to the Czech Commercial Inspectorate to investigate these unfulfilled duties.
If the customer found out about the defect legitimately, the deadline given by the law, that makes it possible for the customer to complain, has not started, but only for the time, that the customer was not able to use the product.
If the claim is legitimate, the customer has the right to receive financial compensation, for all the funds that were used to make the claim, only if the claim was put forth no later than 1 month after the end of the deadline, in which it is possible to make a claim.
If it is possible to send the claimed product through the post office, the funds that were used during this are possible to get back in the form of the compensation. This also applies if the product must be delivered back in person (public transport, customer’s car, not a taxi). If the product cannot be delivered back (a gas boiler, for example), the seller will come to the customer´s house and take it back at his own cost.
The specifications of claims for defects in the product
While making a claim because of a defect, one can notice several specifications:
- Contrary to a change in the law, which is in effect until the 31.12.2013, the current civil code does not distinguish between different deadlines for
- Defects of a product are needed to be pointed out to the maker, without any unnecessary delay, after the customer discovered them, no later than 2 years after the product has been delivered, or no longer than 5 years, if the defect is connected to a structure
The specifications of claims for defects in a work
While making a claim because of a defect, several stipulations can be noted:
- Contrary to a change in the law, which is in effect until the 31.1.2013, the current civil code does not distinguish between different deadlines for making it possible to complain about the defects (on the one hand) and the repair and adjustments of the work (on the other hand)
- Defects in a work need to be pointed out to the maker, without any unnecessary delay, after the customer discovered them, no later than 2 years after the work has been made, or no longer than 5 years, if the defect is connected to a structure
- A work is considered defective, if it does not correspond to the contract
- Not every item, that is being made, is considered work (the essential factor, that distinguishes, whether the contract can be interpreted as a contract for work is simply this: If the value of the work put into the item is more than the value of the material, or if the prevalent part of the material was supplied by the customer it is considered to be a work contract; in other cases it is considered to be a contract of purchase; repair, maintenance and construction are always considered to be contracts for work)
- The rights of the customer concerning a defect in work applies likewise to the provisions of a contract of purchase
- The customer is not entitled to request a replacement product, if the subject of the work due to its nature cannot be returned to the maker (e.g. the customer cannot exchange a house built on his land for another.)
- the customer also does not has the right to refuse to accept a structure because of minor defects, which themselves or even in combination do not prevent the structure from being used without any major problems.
- – Defects in structures can now be applied not only to the contractor, but also to his subcontractors, and the person who supplied the construction documentation, or who supervised the construction, to the extent that they are responsible for any construction defects.