How are terms and warranties different?

Buyer's Rights

This is how guarantee and warranty differ

Arne Düsterhöft
Telecommunications expert As of December 22, 2020

Arne Düsterhöft

Arne Düsterhöft is an editor for telecommunications and digital. Before that he was a volunteer in the editorial team of Finanztip. He gained his first practical experience in the online editorial team of teltarif.de, where he also wrote about digital technologies and telecommunications. After spending semesters abroad in Dublin and New York, Arne Düsterhöft completed his master's degree in theater studies at the Free University of Berlin.

  • As a buyer, you can complain about a damaged item for two years. These are your warranty rights under the law.
  • The guarantee is an additional, voluntary service by the manufacturer (manufacturer guarantee) or the dealer (dealer guarantee). These can freely determine the duration and conditions.
  • If you buy something used from a private person, the seller can exclude the warranty rights. If you buy from a dealer, you have at least one year warranty for used goods.
  • You can usually choose which system you would like to use to complain about the goods: guarantee or warranty.
  • You should complain in writing about defective goods. Describe the defects that have occurred as precisely as possible.
  • In the warranty case: If the repair has failed twice or if the dealer has replaced the product in vain, you can claim your money back.

Regardless of whether your smartphone suddenly gives up the ghost or the dining table wobbles suspiciously: If a product is defective or defective after purchase, it is probably a guarantee or warranty case. While the dealer is obliged to provide a statutory guarantee, both manufacturers and dealers can grant a guarantee voluntarily and in addition. It's worth knowing the differences.

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 retailer to do so Product repaired or improved.

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, the burden of proof is reversed: Then the buyer has 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.

Only private individuals can exclude warranty

A warranty of at least twelve months applies to used goods, but only if you buy from a commercial dealer. If you buy something used from a private person, you are in a legally worse position. For example, if you bought something privately on Ebay, the seller may have excluded the warranty rights. Look at the sales text. If you do not find any information on this, the private person must also be responsible for the product sold for twelve months.

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What does guarantee mean?

The guarantee is not provided for in the law. It is a voluntary service by the manufacturer (manufacturer's guarantee). Some dealers have also started to issue voluntary guarantees (dealer guarantee), for example for refurbished used mobile phones.

With the guarantee, manufacturers or dealers can decide for themselves what the guarantee covers and how long it is valid. Often times, the product is guaranteed to work for a year or two if the customer uses it normally. If you want to complain about a defect during this time, it doesn't matter whether it existed from the beginning or arose later. Wear parts like batteries are mostly excluded from the guarantee.

Differences between warranty and guarantee

 Guaranteewarranty
Guaranteed by lawYesNo
When it appliesin the case of material defects, not in the case of defects that you are responsible foreven with self-inflicted defects
Duration for new goods2 yearsoften 12 to 24 months
Duration for used goods1 yearpossibly residual guarantee calculated from the date of first purchase
Reversal of the burden of proof (new and used goods)after 6 months no change
Claim to whomDealersManufacturer or dealer

Source: Finanztip research (as of December 2020)

What do you have to pay attention to when making a complaint?

If both warranty and guarantee are still running, you can normally choosewhich system you would like to use to complain about the goods. A manufacturer's guarantee, for example, often only provides for a repair, but not for the customer to be able to claim the money back. On the other hand, you can withdraw from the purchase contract via the warranty if the repair has failed twice or the dealer has already replaced the product in vain.

In addition, the statutory warranty does not include wearing parts. Such susceptible components are often excluded from a guarantee. Don't let yourself get swept away too quickly with the saying that "the defect is not a guarantee case". Then complain about the warranty. Far too often, consumer advice centers still criticize that Damage wrongly blamed on the customer or the ignorance of customers is exploited by dealers.

If you bought something in the store on site, the process via the warranty can be more convenient. Because then the dealer has to take care of the complaint. So you don't have to send the article to the manufacturer yourself. When returning, make sure that the defects are clearly noted.

When ordering online, you should have defective goods it is best to file a complaint in writing. Describe the defects that have occurred as precisely as possible in a letter or by email. In the event of a warranty claim, the dealer always takes over the shipping costs.

If you notice something in the first 14 days while shopping online that does not fit you in the goods, or if you have changed your mind in the meantime, you can cancel the entire purchase and send the goods back.

Daniel Pöhler

Daniel Pöhler

Daniel Pöhler mainly works on the Finanztip newsletter and, as deputy head of text, contributes to the linguistic quality of all Finanztip texts. His focus is mobility and the digital. In his traineeship at the trade newspaper Telecom Handel, he learned what makes the telecommunications industry and retailers tick. Daniel holds a degree in business administration from the University of Bayreuth.

Arne Düsterhöft

Arne Düsterhöft

Arne Düsterhöft is an editor for telecommunications and digital. Before that he was a volunteer in the editorial team of Finanztip. He gained his first practical experience in the online editorial team of teltarif.de, where he also wrote about digital technologies and telecommunications. After spending semesters abroad in Dublin and New York, Arne Düsterhöft completed his master's degree in theater studies at the Free University of Berlin.

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