Warranties, repairs and remedies

This article will tell you all about warranties, explain the law concerning repairs, and suggest general solutions for various consumer dilemmas.

Receipts (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
As volunteers at Jerusalem’s Citizens’ Advice Bureau, we receive a broad range of queries and requests for help. One caller, who sent his nearly new cellphone for repairs, is still waiting to get it back. He wanted to know the law on repairs, so he would be adequately armed when he demanded either the return of his cellphone or of his money.
A young woman bought boots that fell apart soon after she purchased them. She received a new pair, but these also quickly tore. The shop is willing to get them repaired – but she prefers to get a refund, and not to take a chance on an identical pair. Knowing there is no warranty on clothes and shoes, she still wondered if she had any rights.
The solar heater on the roof of a third caller needed repair, and had to be taken to a different city. It was still under warranty, but the seller wanted the consumer to pay an enormous sum for shipping it out – practically the cost of a new solar heater. She wanted to know if she could force the seller to pay for the move.
A fourth caller told us that her washing machine broke down soon after the warranty ran out. But she had paid a lot of money for the item, and she wondered if she has the right to get it fixed for free.
Are there answers to these conundrums? According to Allen Zysblat, a Jerusalem law professor who helped write much of our consumer legislation, we have legal rights that we don’t even know about.
For instance, he says, people should not believe that simply because the warranty period is over that doesn’t mean there is no remedy for something defective and unsuitable. Indeed, he continues, even if there never was a warranty, the product still has to be reasonably suitable and durable. And this applies to every new product you buy. So boots or a washing machine both have a reasonable period of durability. If the purchase doesn’t last, the problem is that of the seller.
In our last article, we explained consumer laws concerning buying and selling items and services for personal use.
This article will tell you all about warranties, explain the law concerning repairs, and suggest general solutions for various consumer dilemmas. Following this, a further article will explain Small Claims Court and present some of the outstanding new consumer legislation.
1. All electronic, gas, and electrical appliances that cost (at this writing) NIS 150 or more must come with a written warranty. No matter what it says on that warranty, your item is guaranteed for at least the first year of use beginning the day of purchase or installment.
2. If you bought something that broke down after the year is over and/or after the warranty ran out, you may still have the right to get it fixed at no cost.
The question, says Zysblat, is whether or not there was the reasonable expectation that it should have lasted longer.
A new car, for example, with a warranty of three years, should still be running at five.
3. Along with details on the shop, the warranty should include the name, address, business or ID number, and contact of the manufacturer/importer, the product’s name and year of manufacture and contact details for the service company.
REPAIRS 1) The shop where you bought your purchase is responsible – at no cost to you – for getting it fixed or supplying parts should it break down/wear out during the year of warranty (assuming you didn’t damage it). You should never have to run around trying to trace the manufacturer. If you bought something in a store that has a repair shop inside, you are lucky; if not, the store is required to send your item on for repair.
2. A repaired purchase should return to its original condition with new and original parts. You should receive a document spelling out what was wrong and what was replaced.
3. You may be required to pay for repairs if the damage was caused by force majeure, or if the person who repaired your item was not authorized by the manufacturer/importer.
4. The law sets out a specific number of days for repairs, for example, refrigerators within a day, washing machine within three days, etc. It also sets out which items must be fixed in your home, and if this is not possible, the manufacturer/importer must pay for transportation to the repair shop.
5. If you take your broken purchase to the repair shop, it has to be fixed within 10 business days. If you brought it back to the store, it has to be repaired within two weeks.
6. If the service station is unable to repair your damaged item during the warranty period (or longer, see above) you must receive an identical item, one worth at least the same amount you paid, or your money back.
7. You should never have to wait more than two hours for a technician; if he or she is late twice, they have broken consumer law.
8. You should have received instructions for using your purchase. Should the store/manufacturer/importer refuse to repair it, claiming you used it incorrectly, or that there is nothing wrong with it, there are steps you can take. If you followed the instructions exactly, then send a registered letter describing the situation, describe what is wrong, the conversations you had with the store/manufacturer, and demand that it be fixed within seven days. If he refuses, get it fixed yourself. If you want to get the cost back (you may need to go to court) you need proof of what was wrong: get this from the technician who fixes your product. Have him describe what he has done to it, and make sure he used new and original parts so that it remains under warranty.
9) You didn’t get a warranty? Inform the store by registered letter that if you don’t get one, it could be liable for up to NIS 10,000 in damages.
And remember: just because something isn’t specifically written in the law, there is – as Zysblat reminds us – a basic assumption of reasonable expectation.
You are not necessarily confined to the time limit guaranteed in the warranty. Thus: • During the warranty period he has to fix the item or return money if he cannot prove you are at fault.
• If the problem arises after the warranty period and it is clear that the product should last well beyond that period (like a refrigerator, stove or car) then it should be repaired at the seller’s expense.
1. Never pay the whole sum in advance for a service or item that you haven’t received. Keep it to the minimum.
2. Keep receipts until the time for returning has passed; or longer, if the item you purchased came with a warranty.
3. Before a mover or installer connects an electronic or electric item, make sure that it is the size, color, model that you wanted.
Don’t let them plug it in until you do. You can return such items if they have not been connected to electricity (there is a way they can tell).
Of course, if it is plugged in but doesn’t work, consumer law doesn’t apply, but – as we noted in a previous article – you still have a contractual situation with the seller, and your contract has been broken.
4) If you cancel the sale for a reason (damage, etc.), there should not be a cancellation fee. If you just change your mind on an item that is delivered, you may have to pay both the mover and a cancellation fee.
By now you know a lot about consumer legislation, but you may have questions, or need help in getting compensation from a person/store/company that sold you a product or a service and isn’t playing by the rules. See next month’s column for consumer remedies.
Thank you for your letters. Please continue writing in with general issues you would like me to explore, or to tell of your experiences with sellers and services.