Dutch and Finnish consumer guarantee clashes with EU law


According to new European rules, customers have a product guarantee up to 2 years. When the product breaks, retailers are not allowed to ask for a usage fee. But with longer guarantee periods in Finland and the Netherlands, this can cause problems for online merchants.

The rules from the European Union (EU) are supposed to harmonize ecommerce and consumer guarantees across Europe. But because of differentiating guarantee periods in the Netherlands and Finland, the rules can potentially harm retailers instead.

Longer guarantee in Finland and the Netherlands

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Right now, Dutch and Finnish customers still have a longer guarantee period. This is linked to a product’s lifespan. For a television this is 6 years and for a computer 3 years, for example. If a product breaks prematurely, a customer can get a replacement in exchange for a fee for the years of usage.

Usage fee now forbidden

According to the EU-rules, this usage fee is forbidden. However, the longer guarantee period is still in place. This means a customer can get a new television after 5 years without paying a fee first.

This is unfair to retailers, Dutch ecommerce advocate Thuiswinkel argues in  a letter to the government of the Netherlands.  The organization wants to implement a maximum guarantee of 2 years, like in the rest of Europe. ‘If that is not possible, retailers should at least have the possibility to charge a usage fee’, the organization writes.

‘Unfair position compared to other countries’

According to the Dutch branch organization, online sellers are now paying the price because of a departure from EU rules. General manager Marlene ten Ham from Thuiswinkel, who is also a board member for Ecommerce Europe: “Because of it, there is an unfair competitive position compared to other EU-countries. We strongly ask to not implement the law change to protect retailers and consumers.”