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EU directive 1999/44/EC

An EU Directive is making shoppers feel like they have extra rights to return faulty goods for up to two years. It's not quite that simple. Read our guide to see if it can help you. The EU directive in question is 1999/44/EC.

This EU Directive has been the source of much confusion amongst retailers and consumers alike since its publication. The UK only implemented some parts and not the entire Directive into its domestic law. This was done in the form of The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.

The Directive was introduced to give consumers across Europe the same level of basic rights regardless of which member state they live or shop in. For instance the Directive states that all member states have to give their consumers a TWO year period within which they could bring a legal claim against the retailer from whom they purchased the goods. This is known as the two year limitation period and is quite different from a "guarantee" (that is provided by a manufacturer with their terms and conditions) which it is often being confused with. The limitation periods in the UK are SIX years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and FIVE years from discovery in Scotland. In this respect UK law is far more generous than the EU Directive.

As the Directive does not REPLACE or NEGATE the long established rights that UK consumers have under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended), the two systems run parallel to each other and a consumer can choose which they follow in dealing with their dispute. Therefore, consumers in the UK have the statutory right to expect goods that they purchase to Comply with the Contract and be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose.

The Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 says that when a consumer seeks the remedies of repair, replacement, partial refund or full refund, in the first 6 months from the date of purchase, it is up to the retailer to prove that the goods conformed with the contract at that time. After the 6 months, however, it is for the customer to prove their goods were faulty at the time they made the purchase.

Depending on the circumstances, after the 6 month period, a customer may have to pay for a repair or potentially accept a refurbished handset or a partial refund.

Remember, our customers can always come to us for remedies on faulty goods. As a retailer, we are responsible for helping you.

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