Guarantee and consumer protection
Guarantee and Warranty are often interchanged in common parlance, but they are not the same. If services are poor, consumers can make statutory Warranty claims against their contractual partners. In contrast to a Warranty, which is precisely regulated by law, a Guarantee is a voluntarily assumed contractual liability – generally of the manufacturing company.
It is important for consumers to know that a manufacturer's Guarantee shall not limit their statutory Warranty claims. If they have complaints about defects, the consumers shall not therefore be referred by the sellers to the manufacturing company and its assumed Guarantee, but have the choice whether to assert Warranty claims against their sellers or possible Guarantee claims against the manufacturers. There is a statutory right to the seller's Warranty. Guarantees are only partly regulated by law and exist in addition to the statutory Warranty rights.
A Guarantee can, but does not have to, be free of charge and as a rule is customised as desired by the guarantor. Guarantees are often limited and cover only certain parts or properties of a product (e.g. only the actual spare parts are covered but not other repair costs, or wear parts are completely excluded from the Guarantee). What is covered by the Guarantee and, most importantly, what is excluded from the Guarantee, shall be set out in the Guarantee policy so it is clear and easy to understand.
In most cases, guarantors guarantee that a product shall be free from defects for a certain period of time (generally between one and five years). Should the product stop working within this time, the Guarantee claims undertaken by the guarantor in the Guarantee policy can be asserted against him/her (repair, replacement, reimbursement of purchase price or other remedy). If the manufacturing company guarantees the shelf life for a certain period of time, then it is regulated by law that consumers shall have an immediate claim for improvement or replacement of the item against the manufacturing company during this period.
In contrast to Warranty claims, it is not relevant for the assertion of rights from the Guarantee whether the defect was already present on delivery of the product or whether it occurred subsequently.
The company is bound by the assurances made in the Guarantee policy and by the contents of the Guarantee released through advertising. If the company provides information about the Guarantee which is shown in a better light in the advertising than in the Guarantee policy, then the more favourable advertising claims shall take precedence.
For consumer business, the Guarantee policy shall fulfil the following requirements:
- Reference to Warranty
The guaranteeing company shall make express reference to the seller's legal Warranty obligation and clarify that the statutory Warranty shall not be limited by the Guarantee.
- Minimum information and comprehensibility
The Guarantee policy shall include the name and address of the guarantor and, in simple terms, the contents of the Guarantee (duration, geographical validity, procedure to invoke a Guarantee). If the guaranteed attributes are not identified in the Guarantee policy, liability is assumed for the attributes usually provided.
- Point in time and durability
The Guarantee policy shall be provided to the consumer on permanent data media upon delivery of the item at the very latest (a Guarantee policy on the website is not adequate).
If the guarantor breaches these provisions, the Guarantee shall still apply. He/she shall be liable for any damage caused at the consumer as a result.
- Consumer protection (→ BMSGPK)German text
- European Consumer Centre Austria (→ ECC)
- Consumer Information Association (→ VKI)German text
- Consumer Contracts and Guarantees (→ Your Europe)
- Federal Ministry of Social Affairs, Health, Care and Consumer Protection
- Federal Ministry of Justice