Difference between warranty and guarantee

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There is much difference between guarantee and warranty but in the case of defective products, you are entitled to warranty rights based on statutory provisions. The warranty period for newly purchased goods is 2 years. A guarantee, on the other hand, is a voluntary service – usually by the manufacturer. There are no uniform legal requirements here.

Difference between Warranty and Guarantee
  Difference between Warranty and Guarantee

The terms warranty and guarantee are often used interchangeably. But they don’t mean the same thing and there are distinct differences.

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Difference between warranty and guarantee: Broader vision

The terms “guarantee ” and “warranty “are repeatedly confused, misunderstood, or incorrectly applied. For several years now, the controversial issue of guarantee and warranty has been boiling up again as a result of the VW scandal over exhaust gas manipulation. In a landmark judgment issued on May 25, 2020, the Federal Court of Justice confirmed that buyers of a diesel vehicle with “cheat software” from VW “are in principle entitled to compensation,” writes ADAC. However, plaintiffs would go away empty-handed if they “only bought their car after the VW emissions scandal”, according to the Automobile Association.

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What is a Guarantee?

The warranty is a legal regulation. This means that the legislator obliges the seller to ensure that the goods delivered or sold are free from material and/or legal defects. In normal sales contracts, such as those in retail or mail orders, the product must be free from defects for 24 months. There is, however, a back door. After the first 6 months, the buyer must prove that the product already had the defect at the time of purchase.

If, for example, a bike were to simply break apart after 7 months, the buyer would have to prove that the frame was already defective at the time of purchase. This could be the case, for example, because a weld was not made correctly. Within the first 6 months, the dealer would have to correct it directly – as long as he cannot prove that it was a matter of incorrect handling or operation.

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Content of Guarantee

Whether free or paid guarantee – the exact content is based on the guarantee provisions. This is determined solely by the guarantor. In some cases, he links his services to certain specifications or excludes individual components. For example, you may only treat the sofa with a certain care product, or wear parts that are completely excluded. So read the terms carefully. So if the bicycle dealer can prove, for example, that the rider weighed 120kg, but the operating instructions for the bike say that it can only be ridden by people up to 100kg, then he does not need to make any improvements.

By the way, a different deadline applies to buildings or to “an object that has been used for a structure in accordance with its normal use”, as defined in § 438. This means that if you have a building erected, the contractor has to be responsible for defects for 5 years.

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What is Rework

If a defect occurs during the warranty period, then the buyer has the right to

  • Supplementary performance
  • resignation
  • reduction
  • Compensation

Subsequent performance is usually sought first. That means the product will be repaired or replaced. In the case of complex products, for example, a computer, the customer must grant the retailer a three-time right to rework (repair) before he has the right to convert.

If supplementary performance is not possible because the product cannot be repaired or exchanged, for example, then the customer can also claim his money back. In this case, one speaks of a withdrawal from the sales contract. It should be noted that the customer may not be able to claim the full money back if he has already used the product. For example, if a car is returned after it has already been driven 25,000 km, then the customer has already used it and the product has a depreciation in value, which is deducted from the original purchase price.

Under certain circumstances, the customer can also exercise a right to compensation if a computer has lost data, for example. However, this must be checked on a case-by-case basis – ideally by a lawyer.

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What is a Warranty?

A Warranty is a voluntary service by a dealer or manufacturer. This means that the dealer or manufacturer gives the customer a guarantee for the product, but this has nothing to do with the guarantee. For example, if the dealer gives a 3-month guarantee that he will exchange a product in the event of a defect, then the customer will still have the guarantee that he can fall back on for the fourth month. A guarantee cannot “worsen” the right to a guarantee.

A guarantee also often leads to misunderstandings. Customers often believe that they would be at a disadvantage if a manufacturer gives them a one-year guarantee, even though they would have to give them a 2-year guarantee. However, they are not disadvantaged, as they believe, but in a better position, since one has nothing to do with the other.

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What do warranty and liability for defects mean?

Every dealer must grant a two-year guarantee (also known as liability for defects) on new goods and twelve months on used goods. He is legally obliged to do so (§§ 437 , 438 BGB ). The warranty covers defects that the product already had at the time of purchase. If you discover a defect, you can ask the dealer to repair or improve the product.

If the seller is of the opinion that the defect only arose after the purchase, he must prove this in the first six months. After this time has expired, the burden of proof is reversed: Then you, as the buyer, have to prove that the defect already existed at the time of purchase. Because this is difficult, after six months you are usually dependent on the merchant’s goodwill.

In June 2021, the Ministry of Consumer Protection extended the reversal of the burden of proof from six months to one year. The new deadline is expected to apply from January 1, 2022.

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