Big difference: Should the guarantee or warranty be used if the goods are damaged?

Many consumers don’t care whether you use a guarantee or warranty if something is wrong with the product after purchase – as long as the device works in the end or costs for the repair are covered. There are big legal differences that you should be aware of.

The warranty law is regulated by law in the German Civil Code (BGB).

The Lower Saxony Consumer Center briefly explains on its website what guarantees and warranties are: “Warranty rights exist against the seller based on legal regulations. A guarantee is a voluntary service by a manufacturer and is based on its conditions.” The warranty regulations always apply and are set out in the German Civil Code (BGB), while the seller has a free hand when it comes to guarantee promises. Iwona Husemann is a lawyer at the North Rhine-Westphalia Consumer Center and explains to aktiv magazine: “The right to a warranty always exists, regardless of whether there is an additional guarantee or not.”

This is a good thing for consumer protection reasons, because while many companies offer particularly comprehensive guarantee contracts – often at an additional cost – consumers with the right to a guarantee always have protection even from less accommodating dealers.

The product must have been damaged upon delivery

When it comes to the warranty, as the Lower Saxony Consumer Center explains, consumers have the right to repair or replacement for up to two years or, if the product is no longer available, to a refund of the costs. In the first year after delivery of the product, it is automatically assumed that the damage was present at the time of purchase. In the second year after delivery, the consumer must prove this himself. Consumers are generally allowed to choose between repairs and a new product. It is important: If consumers make use of their warranty rights, the seller must cover all costs. This also includes shipping or material costs.

In individual cases, be sure to read the warranty contract carefully

When it comes to deciding in individual cases whether to make use of the guarantee or warranty, the Lower Saxony consumer advice center advises: “Be careful, if the dealer only wants to repair ‘out of goodwill’, he will not recognize the defect as a warranty case. The next time there is a defect or an inadequate repair, it will then be difficult to enforce further claims. You should therefore insist on your warranty rights and not accept a ‘goodwill solution’.” On the other hand, many sellers also offer very good guarantee contracts, which may even offer more than the warranty. That’s why you should definitely read the contract carefully before purchasing and before complaining about which conditions apply in each individual case.

Editorial team