Dutch authority (ACM) adopts RecallDesk’s recommendations to revise legal warranty information on their website
Deventer, 19 December 2023
A recent consumer experience highlighted a concerning issue with a pair of expensive jeans that began to stretch and wrinkle just 1.5 years after purchase. This issue went beyond ordinary wear and tear, prompting the consumer to invoke their legal guarantee from the seller. However, their claim was initially rejected, with the seller citing ConsuWijzer, a website operated by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). The rejection was grounded in the assertion that the Netherlands lacked a specific warranty period, as it was contingent upon the product’s expected lifespan. Notably, the jeans in question were sold with a 1-year warranty.
For consumers seeking clarity in this matter, the Dutch Consumers’ Association’s website added to the confusion by stating that the legal warranty period was 6 months before April 27, 2022, and 12 months thereafter. In reality, both ACM and the Dutch Consumers’ Association misinterpreted Dutch law.
European legislation unequivocally mandates a minimum legal guarantee period of 2 years, with member states required to incorporate this provision into their national laws. While the Netherlands did not explicitly mention the two-year period in its legislation, it did not intend to offer warranties of less than 2 years, as that would contravene EU regulations. Despite the seeming complexity of the legislative language, the intent, as elucidated in explanatory notes to the Act, was to afford consumers a minimum warranty period of 2 years, particularly for products expected to function without issues for more than 2 years. Furthermore, the EU Directive grants member states the authority to establish warranty periods exceeding 2 years.
Unfortunately, the nuances of Dutch law are not always easily grasped. ACM erroneously linked the warranty period to a product’s expected lifespan, which is a flawed perspective. Not all products are designed for long-term use; for instance, consider a pack of balloons, a simple example where each balloon can be used only once. In such cases, a warranty claim would not be applicable. Nevertheless, if a consumer were to use one of these balloons 23 months after purchase and found it to be defective, they would still be entitled to legal warranty coverage, as the 2-year period had not lapsed.
The Dutch Consumers’ Association further complicated matters by conflating the timeframes for reversing the burden of proof (previously 6 months, currently 12 months) with the statutory warranty period.
Both ACM and the Dutch Consumers’ Association may have inadvertently caused consumers to miss out on valid warranty claims.
RecallDesk recently alerted ACM to this misunderstanding, leading to a prompt revision of their website’s content. The updated information now accurately conveys that consumers in the Netherlands are entitled to a minimum of 2 years of legal warranty. We hope that other organizations, including the Dutch Consumers’ Association, will swiftly follow suit, providing precise guidance to consumers.