Consumer rights

Warranties are voluntary benefits provided by a retailer, importer or manufacturer

There is no legislative requirement to grant warranties. The Consumer Protection Act grants the consumer certain basic rights with regards to product defects. Providing a warranty is a voluntary policy which is often used as a selling point in retail of home appliances and electronics.

The retailer is responsible for the warranty unless they have specifically disclaimed it prior to the sale.

Burden of proof lies with the seller

Defects in appliances during the warranty period are generally fixed without questions regarding the cause of the defect. If the seller suspects that a defect is the result of improper use by the consumer, they are obligated to prove such claims. This reverse burden of proof is one additional benefit of warranties. In non-warranty defect cases the burden of proof lies with the consumer.

End of the warranty period does not free from liability for defects

The warranty period is separate from the time period the business is liable for defects. The Consumer Protection Act does not specify exact periods of liability for product defects.

In cases where the warranty has only recently expired, the business may not reject their potential liability for defects simply by stating "we won't repair it because the warranty has expired". The business must provide further justification to why they are not liable for the defect.

Primary liability for defects lies with the retailer

Warranty terms for home appliances normally list service companies which undertake warranty repairs. It is recommended to turn to these companies if the product has a defect. If a list of service companies is not provided, you should contact the retailer.

The retailer may not automatically direct the consumer to the importer or manufacturer in warranty matters. The retailer must arrange warranty repairs with the warranty provider.

A defect that is within the seller's liability may not be charged to the consumer's home insurance. In such a case the consumer would end up having to pay excess, which would in fact be the seller's responsibility if the product is clearly defective.

Warranty remains valid despite transfer of ownership

Warranties are given to products and they remain valid even if the ownership of the product is transferred. As such, the warranty may not be restricted to the first owner of a product. The provider of warranty is responsible for their obligation for the entire validity of the warranty regardless of who owns the product. However, the use of the product may not change substantially, for example from private use to professional use.

Service life

Consumers have the right to expect that an appliance will last in normal use for its realistic service life. It is possible that during the service life the appliance will require maintenance and even repairs for which the consumer is liable to pay. However, the seller has considerable liability during the early part of the service life and in the time immediately after the expiration of warranty. Liability diminishes as the appliance gets older.
 
The warranty provided for home appliances is often 1-2 years. Their expected service life - depending on the appliance - is, however, often much longer. If an appliance breaks down immediately after the warranty has expired, the cost of repairs is substantial and the consumer has not operated the appliance contrary to the operating instructions, he may appeal to the appliance's service life.

No transport costs

A warranty can't be used to restrict the consumer's statutory rights. Consumers may not be charged for costs arising from transporting the appliance for warranty repairs. The repairs must be altogether free of charge.

In the case of small and easily transportable items such as watches and cameras the buyer may bring them in for repairs. Even in such cases the buyer's transport costs must be compensated.

Troubleshooting during the validity of warranty is primarily free of charge

Troubleshooting during the validity of warranty may only be charged for if the consumer's bringing of the appliance for warranty repairs is clearly frivolous. Frivolous cases of requesting warranty repairs include, for example, defects caused by the customer himself in cases where this fact should have been obvious to the customer.

Repairs must be done within a reasonable time

A reasonable time for repairs is approximately two weeks. If repairs take an unreasonable amount of time, the consumer has the right to demand at least a temporary replacement for the product when two weeks have passed.

In certain cases, for instance where a mobile phone is a consumer's only telephone device, warranty repairs should not last longer than two weeks. In such circumstances, the consumer may demand a temporary replacement even sooner.

Entertainment electronics are not deemed equally necessary. Nevertheless, their repairs should not take several weeks either. The customer may request a temporary replacement after a couple of weeks has passed. Provision of a temporary replacement should not, however, lead to the repair time being extended to unreasonable lengths. The temporary replacement may not have all the features that the consumer originally based his choice of appliance on.

One defect should only need to be repaired once

When buying home appliances or consumer electronics, consumers should not have to expect that the appliance will spend part of its service life getting repairs. If the same defect arises in the same product repeatedly, the business should at the very least exchange it for a non-defective unit.

Additional "warranties"

The sale of home appliances and cars sometimes involves offers of extended warranties. If such arrangements involve additional costs, they may not be called warranties. More often than not, they are in fact offers of insurance.

Terms of product insurance may not diminish consumer rights with respect to the statutory rights provided by the Consumer protection Act. The seller's liability for things like obvious manufacturing defects and sufficient service life remain even after the warranty has expired. Product insurance may not be used to turn this statutory liability into something that the consumer pays for.

When purchasing product insurance you should make sure that you are not needlessly purchasing additional insurance whose coverage overlaps that of home insurance.

International warranty

A manufacturer's warranty valid in one EU member state must also be valid in other EU member states. The consumer is entitled to request warranty repairs for the product in Finland if it has a manufacturer's warranty and a Finnish importer.

Warranty may not be refused on the grounds that the product was purchased from a different member state, bought online or imported to Finland through parallel import without the involvement of the authorised importer.

Fading text on warranty receipts

If thermal paper is used for the purchase or warranty receipt, it is possible that the text fades away completely before the warranty period expires. Warranty documents should, however, indicate the party that grants the warranty and the warranty period. Businesses must, at the buyer's request, provide warranty information in print or electronic form in such a way that the customer can keep the information. The crucial detail is the date of expiration of the warranty.

If the consumer files a complaint with a business based on a broken piece of equipment, the business may not refuse to repair it simply based on the fact that there is no evidence of the warranty period.

The existence of a warranty receipt is not the determining factor in deciding whether the business is liable to repair or rectify a defect or not. The seller, importer and/or manufacturer is responsible for defects regardless of whether the goods are sold with a warranty and whether the warranty has expired.

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