Replacing the product with a product free from defects - a guide for sellers and buyers

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Replacing the product with a product free from defects is an important right that customers have against sellers under the warranty. How should the seller behave? Who bears the costs of dismantling and returning the items? What deadlines apply? When can a seller refuse to exchange things?

Customer rights with warranty for defects

If the purchased item has defects, the buyer may complain to the seller on the basis of the provisions on the warranty for defects (Article 556 et seq. Of the Civil Code).

The customer's rights with a warranty for defects are:

  1. Withdrawal from the contract and refund.

  2. Price reduction.

  3. Exchange of goods free from defects.

  4. Repair of defective goods.

Exchange of goods free from defects

Under the rights with the warranty for defects, the customer may request the seller to replace the item with a defect-free item (Article 561 § 1 of the Civil Code).

By what date should the goods be replaced with a non-defective one by the seller?

The Civil Code requires the seller to do this "Within a reasonable time without undue inconvenience to the buyer" (Art.561 § 2 of the Civil Code). It would be difficult to indicate one, specific term that would apply to all cases - and to an item that is available "on the spot" and to a product whose replacement requires, for example, importing a new product from abroad. In the event of a dispute, the court will decide whether the time limit was “reasonable”.

However, the seller should not hesitate to reply to the buyer. If the buyer is a consumer and he has requested the replacement of the item, and the seller has not responded to this request within 14 days, it is considered that the seller considered this request justified.

When can the seller refuse to replace the goods?

The seller does not always have to replace the goods in accordance with the customer's request, despite the fact that the goods have defects for which the seller is liable under the warranty. When does the seller not have to replace the goods and what should he do?

The seller may refuse the customer's request to replace the goods with goods free from defects, if:

  • the exchange of goods is impossible (e.g. the goods are no longer available on the market); or

  • it is possible to replace the goods, but compared to the repair of the goods, this would require excessive costs; or

  • if the buyer is an entrepreneur, the seller may also refuse to exchange if the costs of the exchange exceed the price of the sold item.

Even if one of these three cases occurs, the refusal to replace the goods does not mean that the complaint ends there and the seller does not have to do anything else. The buyer still has the remaining rights (repair of the goods, price reduction, withdrawal from the contract).

Example 1.

Jan Nowak bought a built-in refrigerator. A defect revealed in the refrigerator - one of the hinges was bent. Jan Nowak demanded from the seller, based on the provisions on the warranty, to replace the refrigerator with a refrigerator free from defects. The seller may refuse to replace the refrigerator and repair the damaged hinge instead, on the grounds that replacing the refrigerator would be costly compared to repairing.

The costs of replacing the goods - who bears them?

As a rule, the exchange of goods incurs costs. Who should bear them?

The seller is responsible for the replacement costs. This includes in particular the costs of:

  • disassembling things (if it has been installed),

  • delivering a defective item to the seller,

  • deliver a new item to the buyer.

Dismantling the replaced item

The faulty item may have been installed (e.g. built-in oven). In this case, if the goods are to be replaced, the buyer may require the seller to:

  • disassembly of the defective item

  • re-installation after replacing it with a non-defective one.

Should the seller not wish to fulfill this obligation, the buyer may have the dismantling and reassembly performed by another person and charge the seller for the costs.

In one case, the seller may refuse to dismantle and reinstall: when the cost of these activities exceeds the price of the sold item. However, if the buyer is a consumer, he may then:

  • require the seller to disassemble and reinstall, provided that the consumer pays the part of the cost that exceeds the value of the item; or

  • require the seller to pay the buyer an amount for the assembly and disassembly equal to the price of the sold item.

Delivering a defective item to the seller

The buyer who exercises the rights under the warranty, i.e. requests replacement of the item, is obliged to deliver the defective item at the seller's expense to the place specified in the contract of sale, and if such a place is not specified in the contract - to the place where the item was delivered to the buyer. The seller is obliged to accept such an item.

If, due to the type of item or the way it was installed, the delivery of the item by the buyer would be excessively difficult, the buyer is obliged to make the item available to the seller at the place where the item is located.

It does not mean that it is possible to send back the items “cash on delivery” without agreeing it with the seller. Before returning the item, contact the seller and arrange with him how to send it back.

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The customer wants a refund, the seller replaces the goods

The buyer does not have to request replacement of the goods. He may take advantage of the remaining rights with the warranty: price reduction, withdrawal from the contract, request for repair of the goods.

For the seller, withdrawal from the contract is usually the least advantageous, because he must then return the entire price. Lowering the price may also be less beneficial than repairing or replacing the goods. Therefore, the seller has been given the option of resisting the need to return all or part of the money and "covering" with replacement or repair.

If the buyer withdraws from the contract or submits a price reduction statement, the seller has the right, instead of returning the money - immediately and without undue inconvenience to the buyer, replace the goods with a defective one or remove the defect (Article 560 § 1 of the Civil Code). If the buyer is a consumer, then the consumer may choose whether the item is to be repaired or the goods are to be replaced (unless the method chosen by the buyer would be impossible or would require excessive costs).

However, the seller cannot "block" the withdrawal from the contract or price reduction by replacing the item or repairing it, if:

  • the item has already been replaced or repaired by the seller, or

  • the buyer has previously demanded replacement or repair, and the seller has not replaced or repaired the goods.

Exchange of goods - important dates

1. The seller is liable under the warranty if a physical defect is found within two years (in the case of real estate defects - five years) from the date of delivery of the item to the buyer.

2. A claim for replacing an item with a defect-free item shall expire after one year from the date of finding the defect. If the buyer is a consumer, the limitation period may not end before the expiry of two years from the date of delivery of the item (for real estate - five years).

3. The expiry of the time limit for finding a defect does not exclude the exercise of warranty rights if the seller has fraudulently concealed the defect.

4.When selling between entrepreneurs, the buyer loses his warranty rights if he did not inspect the goods in time and in the manner adopted for this type of goods and did not immediately notify the seller of the defect, and if the defect came to light only later - if he did not notify the seller immediately after its finding.