What to do if you are not satisfied with the Christmas gift? The VKI clarifies exchange, right of withdrawal, warranty and guarantee.
Not all Christmas gifts cause great joy to the recipient: Be it a piece of clothing in the wrong size, a technical device that gives up the ghost shortly after unpacking, or even a gift that simply does not please.
What options do consumers have if something goes wrong with the gift? Manuela Robinson, head of the advice department at the Association for Consumer Information (VKI), provides information about this.
Exchange of gifts if not satisfied
Without further ado, it is impossible to withdraw from a purchase contract validly concluded in a store. The exchange of a product is not a legally established right but a concession of the dealer. However, many companies are exceptionally accommodating during the Christmas season and offer their customers the opportunity to exchange goods.
If you want to be on the safe side, you should ask before buying the gift and, if necessary, have the exchange option confirmed in writing on the receipt. There is hardly any money back, but the unloved product can be exchanged for another item or a voucher in most cases.
Be careful with vouchers: Time limit is usually not permissible
Caution is advised with vouchers, which are often provided with a time limit (usually two to three years). Such a time limit is generally not permissible on the issuer’s part without good reason. In principle, vouchers are valid for 30 years. Problems can arise in insolvency, which often renders vouchers worthless. Any claims can indeed be filed in corresponding bankruptcy proceedings. However, compensation prospects are slim due to the usually low quotas and possible court costs incurred.
Right of withdrawal for purchases in online stores
In the case of sales contracts concluded online between consumers and companies, there is a statutory right of withdrawal (with a few exceptions), as it is impossible to inspect the goods immediately when buying online. The withdrawal period is 14 days and usually starts as soon as the ordered goods reach the buyer. To withdraw from a contract concluded online, an informal declaration is sufficient. However, it is advisable to send a written statement of withdrawal.
Returning the goods without comment is not sufficient. In some cases, however, there is no right of withdrawal – for example, if the seal is removed from a Blu-Ray or a product made to personal specifications (for example, an engraved piece of jewelry). Some online retailers also grant a voluntary extended right of return.
The buyer is entitled to a warranty.
The right to warranty is a right to which the buyer is entitled, provided that the product has a defect. If, for example, the newly purchased television is not functional, the company must either remedy the defect within a reasonable period or replace the product. If this is not possible, a price reduction or refund of the purchase price can be demanded as an alternative.
Generally, companies can neither exclude nor limit the right to warranty, regardless of whether the purchase was made directly in the store or via the Internet.
Warranty for purchased goods is voluntary but binding
The contractual warranty is a voluntary promise by the company or manufacturer to accommodate the consumer in case of a complaint. What this entails is specified in the terms and conditions of the warranty – it, therefore, varies from company to company. However, if there is a warranty promise, it is also binding.
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