Many people buy goods or services while on holiday in other EU countries with the assumption that they can rely on a so-called “euro guarantee”. However, this does not exist under any applicable legislation. And even if a manufacturer or a chain store has a branch in the Czech Republic, this does not automatically mean that their local representative will accept a cross-border claim. Because the terms and conditions of guarantees vary in the European countries, it is a good idea for consumers to acquaint themselves with these conditions in advance.
“Many people think that a euro guarantee exists because we are members of the European Union. However, this is not true. Retailers only provide such international guarantees contractually and the consumer must be informed of this on purchase, ideally in writing,” says Tomáš Večl, the Director of European Consumer Centre CZ (ECC), which specialises in consumer protection at the European level.
This is why, for example, people can often claim defects on vehicles purchased abroad at authorised service centres in the Czech Republic. However, this is only possible if the retailer agrees and indicates in the guarantee list the option of authorised repairs at a concrete authorised service centre in another country. “So called euro guarantees can also be provided by retailers of electronic and other goods, by indicating in writing that defects in their products can be claimed at a branch of their store in another country. However, this must be truly confirmed in writing,” pointed out Večl, adding that the ECC has seen cases where the retailer only confirmed this verbally. However this is not enough and, in such cases, the company’s Czech representative may refuse the customer’s claim.
If a “euro guarantee” is not contractually provided, each consumer in the European Union has the right to claim defects in goods or services at the retailer who sold him/her these goods. It is therefore a good idea to ask about your consumer rights in the given country at the point of sale. It is important to realise, for example, that the classic “Czech” two-year guarantee on defects that appear during the use of the item does not apply in most other countries, where consumers “only” have the right to claim defects in goods during these 24 months that were present from the start. Within the first six months from purchase, such defect is considered to have been present from the start and it is up to the retailer to prove otherwise. However, in the following 18 months it is up to the customer to prove that the defect was present from the start.
“With regard to the period allowed for the settlement of claims, most EU countries stipulate that claims must be settled within a “reasonable period”. This term is usually interpreted as a period of 4 to 6 weeks. However, in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the maximum period for the settlement of claims is 30 days by law, while in Poland it is just 14 days,” added Večl. The payment of necessary costs related to claims is also governed differently in various countries and it is always a good idea to ask the retailer for this.