The Rights of Consumers in Spain are included in the Constitution, specifically in Article 51, which guarantees the rights of consumers to protect their safety, health and economic interests. It also establishes the obligation of public authorities to provide information and training for consumers. In addition, there is also the General Law for the Rights of Consumers and Users (“Ley General para la Defensa de los Consumidores y Usuarios”), in force since 2007 and updated in 2014.
Whenever you buy something in a shop or in the internet, you implicitly sign a contract with the shop that sold you the product and the product manufacturer.
In case of defects, the law is protecting the consumer by establishing a minimum set of conditions. The shop or manufacturer guarantee will be considered when it equals or is better than the minimum stated by the law. It’s an unfortunate reality that in many cases manufactures establish rules that are confusing or in direct contradiction with what is stated by the law. Sometimes the shops or manufacturers offer their own guarantees, which may be included in the price or not. However, these guarantees can never substitute or reduce the minimum guarantee stated by the law. The law states that there is a general minimum guarantee of 2 years from the date of purchase.
If a problem or a defect appears during the first 6 months, it is assumed that the defect is from the product and the client won’t have anything to prove to apply the terms of the guarantee.
If the problem appears after 6 months the shop or the manufacturer could potentially ask the consumer to demonstrate that the defect was there from the beginning and this will need a report from an expert. This is happening rarely as manufacturers just honour the two years guarantee. In second-hand products, there is a 6-month guarantee if the product is purchased from a person, or one year, if the product is purchased from a shop or a manufacturer.
When a defect is found during the guarantee period, the consumer can in principle choose between the following options:
- Repair the product in a “reasonable” time (the law doesn’t specify what is reasonable).
- Replace the product (not included in this option are consumables and second-hand products)
- Negotiate a price reduction with the consumer
- Terminate the contract and refund the money
In practice the shop could claim that replacing the product is not reasonable, therefore most of the time the other three options are the only ones applicable.
In any case:
- The replacement or the repair must be totally free, including transport expenses.
- The period during which the product is under repair the guarantee period is frozen
- The repaired product will have a minimum guarantee of 6 months, whenever the defect appeared during the 2 years guarantee period.
If the replacement is not possible or the repair will take an excessive amount of time, the consumer can ask the contract termination and get the money back.
If you have problems with products bought in another country of the EU, the European Consumer Centre in your country can help you.
Can I return a product if I don’t like it?
If a product is in perfect conditions, shops in Spain do not have an obligation to take it back or to change it (unless the company is publicly stating differently). In practice most of the shops will take back the product, between 14 and 30 days after purchase, but in some cases, they won’t refund the money, offering instead a voucher for future purchases.
If you made the purchase online, you have the legal right to return the product within 14 business days from the day you received the item.
During sales, consumers have the same rights as in normal periods, therefore defective products can be returned to the shop. It is important to notice that in discounted products, the original price and the discounted price be clearly stated.
What to do in case of reclamation
In case of a reclamation, the law contemplates that the shop is the one that must take care of all formalities. If there is customer service, contact them.
When the company refuses to apply the guarantee, it is advisable to ask for a complaint form in the shop, where the product was bought, and to contact a consumer association that can help to defend the legitimate interests of consumers.
Consumers can also claim at the Public Administration: Consumers can go to both municipalities and consumer entities of the CCAA. They will try to get the parties to reach an amicable agreement.