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How long is my purchase guaranteed? 1 year? 2 years?

This e-mail came through from a reader in the last week or so:

I bought a Sony Playstation 3, 60 Gb model for my sons, which has stopped working two weeks ago.  I have just found receipt which confirms that it is less than 2 years old.  We heard recently that all goods are covered by 2 year statutory warranty.  (This legislation emanates from EU Directive.)  Can you provide more information about this Irish legislation and also tell me what our rights are with the Playstation 3.. My sons saved quite a while to purchase same.

First things first, the specific organisation for allegedly responsible for overseeing the legislation the reader is referring to here is the National Consumer Agency. If they have any specific follow ups, or wish to progress their complaint any further, these are the people to contact.

However, the reader is correct that there is EU legislation – Directive 1999/44/EC, Article 5 – that provides for a minimum guarantee of 2 years on products bought. The regulation was eventually put into place by Statutory Instrument No. 11 of 2003, signed into effect by the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Harney.

The actual text of the EU regulation, Article 5, states that:

Time limits

1. The seller shall be held liable under Article 3 where the lack of conformity becomes apparent within two years as from delivery of the goods. If, under national legislation, the rights laid down in Article 3(2) are subject to a limitation period, that period shall not expire within a period of two years from the time of delivery.

It is also worth noting though that according to the European Consumer Centre Dublin, provide this extra bit of relevant information:

Also important for consumers is that after this period of six months they are still protected against faulty products. In Ireland within six years from delivery of the goods the trader still can be held liable for any lack of conformity. However, it is then up to the consumer to prove that the lack of conformity existed at the time of delivery.

There is, unfortunately, a bit of ambiguity in these rules and legislation – as referred to by the last sentence of the ECC Dublin comment above. This is to do with the fact that the “lack of conformity” (i.e. the fault) must have existed at the time of purchase.

It is assumed in legislation that any fault found in the first 6 months is assumed to have existed at the time of purchase. However, there is a burden of proof on either side subsequently to prove that any fault that becomes visible actually existed at purchase, and didn’t develop because of use, age, maintenance, storage issues etc.

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