No response to the complaint - consequences for the entrepreneur

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Attention entrepreneur! Failure to respond to the complaint within 14 days of receipt of the consumer's request results in the acceptance of the request to the extent and content indicated in the complaint. From December 25, 2014, the issue of seller's liability in the event of no response to the complaint is regulated by the Act on the protection of consumer rights and the Civil Code. Art. 561 [5] of the Civil Code says thatIf the seller, who has received from the buyer a request for replacement or removal of the defect or price reduction, did not respond to this request within 14 days, it is considered that he considered it justified.

Consequences of not responding to the complaint

Therefore, the lack of response to the complaint results in a favorable situation on the part of the consumer. The submitted complaint is considered to be included in the scope of the consumer's request contained therein, which the entrepreneur is obliged to fulfill. The powers discussed are divided into two groups:

  1. Price reduction or refund - as a rule, the consumer has the right to demand a price reduction or withdraw from the contract if the defect of the product is significant. The consumer indicates the amount by which the price is to be reduced, however, the Act requires that the reduced price should be in proportion to the initial price of the product, in which the value of the defective product remains to the value of the defect-free product.

  2. Repair of goods or replacement of goods with new ones - the consumer chooses whether he requests the seller to replace the goods with a new one or repair it in order to remove defects. The seller may, however, refuse to consider the complaint in the indicated manner, but only if the removal of defects in the indicated manner is impossible or involves excessive costs.

These rights are equivalent, which means that the consumer is free to choose the method of considering the complaint. If the goods are advertised for the first time, the seller may not agree to a price reduction or a refund, if he immediately and without undue inconvenience to the consumer replaces the defective goods with a defect-free one or removes the defect.

Attention!

Recognizing the consumer's request as justified as a result of the lack of a response to the complaint, not only requires the entrepreneur to meet the request indicated in the complaint, but also - as a result of the presumption of the existence of a physical defect - means that the entrepreneur admits that the goods have physical defects, i.e. was inconsistent with the contract in the time of its release.

It follows that, in the event of a court proceeding, the trader would not be able to rely on the expert's opinion stating that there were no actual physical defects of the product at the time the product was delivered to the consumer. In turn, the only obligation on the part of the consumer in the event of legal proceedings would be to prove that the seller exceeded the fourteen-day deadline, without having to prove that the product actually had physical defects. However, the aforementioned presumption is limited in time - it concerns a product defect found within one year of the product being sold to the consumer.

No response to a complaint - how to avoid it?

When calculating the 14-day deadline for responding to the consumer's request specified in the complaint, remember that these are calendar days, not working days. Other provisions of the regulations or contracts will be considered illegal clauses, as was the case with the following provision:

Prohibited clause: "Complaints are considered within 14 working days from the date of receipt of the complaint. Most of the goods are imported by the market from abroad and in these cases the time for considering the complaint may be extended ”.

  • Entry number 1890 in the register of prohibited clauses kept by the President of UOKiK

It should be particularly emphasized that the reply to the complaint will be deemed delivered on the day when the consumer will be able to read the content of the letter. Therefore, it is not the date of sending the reply that will be important in this respect, but the date of its receipt by the addressee. Hence, the seller who delays the reply and sends the letter within 13 days of receiving the complaint, risks that the parcel will not reach the consumer on time, which will be tantamount to no response to the complaint. Therefore, due to the breach of the statutory deadline for responding, the entrepreneur will be exposed to the consequences provided for in the Act in the event of failure to respond to the complaint. Responsibility for the effective delivery of the answer to the consumer lies with the trader, so contractual provisions shifting the burden of liability onto the consumer are unacceptable:

Prohibited clause: "The customer undertakes to collect the decision regarding the seller's response to the buyer's request within 14 days without additional notification."

  • Entry number 1890 in the register of prohibited clauses kept by the President of UOKiK

It may seem that waiting by the entrepreneur for information from the expert or the producer of the goods as to the existence of the defect will extend the time limit for responding to the complaint. However, the regulations do not provide for any exceptions in this respect. So if the entrepreneur actually has to wait for such an opinion, his reasonable behavior will be the original rejection of the complaint. There is nothing to prevent the claim from being re-recognized in the event of a positive opinion from the expert or the manufacturer. In turn, if the opinion turns out to be negative, the entrepreneur will be secured in the event of legal proceedings, proving that the goods are free from defects.

The entrepreneur can protect himself against failure to meet the deadline for responding to the complaint by appropriate arrangements with the consumer. When submitting a complaint, you can then determine a convenient way to inform about the complaint, e.g. by SMS or e-mail. The act does not impose a specific method of informing the consumer about the consideration of the complaint, however, it should be noted that it is unacceptable that the customer is unacceptable to appear in person at the store in order to receive a response to the complaint.

Attention!

A decision imposing on the customer the manner of informing about the decision regarding the complaint, e.g. in the regulations, will meet the premise of the prohibited clause, as it has not been individually agreed with the consumer.

The content of the response to the complaint

The entrepreneur's response to the complaint should clearly indicate whether the consumer's request has been considered positively or negatively, therefore whether the complaint will be considered or rejected. Moreover, the mere information that the complaint has been considered will not be sufficient. It is necessary to indicate the method of considering the complaint. As indicated earlier, the seller may refuse, for example, to repair the item in the manner indicated by the advertiser, when this will generate excessive costs for the seller, while there is another, cheaper way to repair the defect in the product. Then the entrepreneur should include an appropriate justification in his answer.

For the effectiveness of the response to the complaint, it is necessary that the statement contained therein be submitted personally by the entrepreneur or a person authorized by him. The consumer expects the position of the entrepreneur to whom the complaint was addressed in his case. Therefore, it will not be considered a response to the complaint, only sending information to the consumer that it has been provided to the appraiser, or sending a negative opinion to the appraiser. A letter constructed in this way will expose the seller to the consequences of not responding to the complaint.