The European Union has, in general, taken a far more hands-on approach to consumer rights than the US. If you’re in the EU, you are probably entitled to a lot more recourse than you might think when something goes wrong with your gadgets. It’s not just the one-year warranty the manufacturer gives you.
What You Get with a Basic Manufacturer’s Warranty
A manufacturer’s commercial warranty is essentially a promise that the product you buy from them will work as they said it would for a certain period of time. If your laptop’s screen dies without reason, or your phone’s battery has serious issues, they agree to replace or repair it within the warranty period (usually a year or two). For example, when Samsung had the exploding Note 7 fiasco, replacement phones were covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.
The problem with a manufacturer’s commercial warranty is that they are free to set whatever terms they want. Sometimes only certain components will be covered, you’ll need to pay a repair fee, or the warranty will have a very short duration. You will also probably need to ship your device back to the manufacturer for any repairs, or to be assessed for replacement.
Some manufacturers or retailers also offer extended warranties, which make the standard warranty’s terms last for longer than the usual period, although these are seldom a good idea.
The EU Consumer Guarantee
If you live in the EU, however, you get more than just the manufacturer’s warranty.
When you buy a product in the EU, you are entitled to a minimum of a two-year legal guarantee that is separate from any commercial guarantee offered by the manufacturer. This means that when you buy most tech products you actually get two guarantees: the manufacturer’s commercial guarantee and the EU consumer guarantee.
Most interestingly, the EU consumer guarantee is with the retailer (or trader) you buy the item from, not the manufacturer. This means that if you buy an Acer laptop from Tesco (basically the English Walmart), and it breaks within two years, you can bring it straight back to the shop you bought it from and they have to deal with it—not Acer. It doesn’t matter whether the shop is online or physical either, they are still responsible. You could contact Acer and claim under their commercial guarantee if it still applied, but in most cases, going through the traders will be simpler.
Also, the two-year guarantee is the absolute minimum that a trader can offer. In some countries, national law actually requires a longer guarantee; in Ireland and the UK, for example, it’s six years. You can check what the specific minimum guarantee is on the Europa.eu website.
What’s Covered By the EU Guarantee?
Now, let’s get one thing straight: the EU consumer guarantee (and also the manufacturer’s warranty) isn’t some get out of jail free card for any broken device. If you drop your phone in the toilet, spill a coffee on your laptop, or otherwise damage your device through your own neglect or stupidity, you’re on the hook for any and all repairs. The EU guarantee doesn’t cover accidental damage—for that, you’d need insurance (like AppleCare+). Instead, the…
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