Commercial warranties vary between countries. In some Member States it is more common for them to be offered against payment than in others. In some, they must be offered free of charge. For warranties offered against payment, costs vary considerably, as do the benefits, especially given their duration and depreciation in value. Only in 25 check onlines were warranties offered free of charge.
Commercial warranties have become a marketing tool especially for white goods and audio-visual equipment. However, many consumers express confusion with regard to the guarantees and warranties to which they are entitled.
The ECC-Net regularly handles complaints from consumers who request application of the legal guarantee of conformity, but are refused by the seller on the grounds that the time limit has expired. When looking into the cases more closely, it becomes obvious that the seller is referring to a commercial warranty, not the legal guarantee.
Cases have also been reported in which consumers have been informed that no guarantee exists for the item purchased. Sellers often give consumers the impression that only the commercial warranty applies to their purchase. Some traders add to consumer’s confusion between a commercial warranty and the legal guarantee by stating that an item is covered only by a producer warranty of 1 year, as the legislation does not require that a producer warranty give coverage for 2 years.
If a commercial warranty puts the consumer in a better position than the legal guarantee, such as by
providing a longer reversal of burden of proof period, it might be of interest to the consumer to claim under the warranty, rather than the legal guarantee. However, warranties are not always more beneficial to the consumer. Also, the seller is responsible for applying the legal guarantee, whereas under a commercial warranty he/she is often able to redirect the consumer elsewhere, such as to a repair centre or the producer, without giving any further assistance.