Guarantees and warranties
If an item you have bought is faulty, you have the right to return the item to the retailer and get a repair, replacement or refund. These rights are known as your statutory rights. Find out more about your rights when goods are faulty.
There are some products (for example, electrical, furniture or appliances) that come with a commercial guarantee or warranty. The terms guarantee and warranty can often be used interchangeably and it can sometimes be difficult to know the difference between a guarantee and a warranty.
The main differences are:
- Guarantees are usually free and offered by the manufacturer
- Warranties usually cost money and may be offered by the shop where you are buying the product
Your statutory rights apply to products you buy. A warranty or guarantee can give you extra protections but it does not replace your statutory rights.
What is a guarantee?
A guarantee is a written statement provided free of charge by the manufacturer. It usually includes assurances about the quality of the item, or service, as well as a promise to provide repair or replacement if something goes wrong within a set amount of time (for example, within 12 months after purchase). It is a legally binding document that can be enforceable through the courts if necessary.
The guarantee should have the following information:
- What goods the guarantee applies to
- The name and address of the person who will honour the guarantee (known as the guarantor)
- How long the guarantee is for
- How to make a claim under the guarantee
- What action the guarantor will take
- If you have to pay any charges for getting the product repaired (such as postage and packaging)
What is a warranty?
A warranty (or extended warranty) may be offered by a retailer at extra cost and acts as sort of insurance policy. It covers the item or service after the manufacturer’s guarantee period. Benefits of having a warranty may include paying some of the cost of a repair if the product breaks or becomes faulty. Warranties may also offer extra cover for accidental damage.
A warranty is completely optional. You should carefully check what the warranty covers and whether you really need to buy it.
Advice on guarantees and warranties
If a product or service comes with a guarantee, or you are offered a warranty at extra cost, you should read the terms and conditions carefully to check the following:
- If you need to do anything to activate it. For example, you may need to fill out a registration card and send it to the manufacturer to activate a guarantee. Failure to do so may mean that the guarantee is not valid.
- What exactly is covered? For example, does it cover parts only, is the cost of labour included, and will you be offered a replacement while the product is being repaired?
- Who will be honouring the guarantee or warranty? This may be the seller, manufacturer or a third party.
- How do you make a claim?
- How long will the cover last? For example, 12 months.
- Are there geographical restrictions? For example, if you buy the product in a different country will the warranty cover you for servicing in Ireland.
- What will it actually cost for repairs under a warranty and is it worth
paying extra for this additional cover? For example:
- Is there a certain amount that you must pay, and the balance is covered by the warranty?
- Would it be cheaper to repair or replace the item rather than buy an extended warranty?
- Is the item already covered under your home insurance?
You have certain protections under EU Law, including that the terms of a guarantee or warranty cannot be unfair and go against your statutory consumer rights. These rules are set out in the European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) Regulations (S.I. No. 27/1995). Find out more about unfair contract terms.
Always put your guarantee or warranty in a safe place together with instruction manuals or any other relevant documentation such as proof of purchase.
How to use your guarantee or warranty?
Remember, a guarantee or warranty is in addition to your statutory rights. When there is a problem with the product or service you should always raise it with the seller first. The seller is responsible for resolving the issue under consumer law.
You are entitled to raise a problem about a product for up to 6 years from the date of buying it. This applies regardless of the terms of any guarantee or warranty.
Making a claim using a guarantee or warranty
If you want to make a claim using your guarantee or warranty you will usually need:
- Proof of purchase (for example a receipt)
- Details of what the problem is
- A copy of the warranty or guarantee
The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has more information about guarantees and warranties. The European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland also has an infographic on what's the difference?.
How to complain about a guarantee or warranty
If you are having problems using a guarantee or warranty, you should first complain to the guarantor (the retailer or the manufacturer). You can get more advice on how to make a complaint.
If you cannot resolve the problem directly with the seller or manufacturer or you are not happy with their response, you can take a claim against the seller using the small claims procedure.
If you need more help
If you cannot resolve the problem yourself, you can contact the following consumer bodies for advice and support:
- Disputes about an Irish-based trader: Contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)
- Disputes with a trader based in another EU country: Contact the European Consumer Centre (ECC) Ireland
Find out more about consumer protection organisations.