Many sellers use general terms and conditions. These general terms and conditions often include warranties, for example a one-year warranty. This normally means that the seller will repair or, if necessary, replace a product sold to a consumer if there is something wrong with the product provided that a consumer makes a claim under the warranty within the period of that year. If something happens to the product sold to the consumer after that one-year period, then the consumer can no longer turn to the seller.
If this happens, what can the consumer do? Article 7:17 of the Civil Code of Aruba states that a product purchased by a consumer must have the characteristics that he may expect, taking into consideration the sales contract that the consumer has entered into. This comes down to what a consumer may expect from
Illustration 1: Will that new washing machine give you any problems? (Photo: Planetcare on Unsplash)
the purchased product under normal use as a consumer. An example. A consumer buys a washing machine. He may expect that washing machine to work without problems for a certain time. But what does a certain time mean? The interpretation of a certain time is determined by the price paid, the brand, recommendations made by the seller and/or the manufacturer and finally the store where the product was purchased. Let’s list some of these factors. If a consumer buys a washing machine for say Awg. 2.500,00 in a store similar to Best Buy for example, then the consumer may trust that that washing machine will last for a good number of years without a single problem. If that same washing machine shows defects after a year and a half, then that washing machine did not possess the qualities that the consumer was entitled to expect. In legal terms, this means that the washing machine was sold non-compliant by the seller. And if a product is non-compliant with respect to a consumer, then the seller must repair the good, in this case the washing machine, at her own expense or, if necessary, replace it with a good (in this case the same model of washing machine) that is compliant.
Illustration 2: Don’t stress … at least not yet (Photo: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)
But what happens if there is a catch? What happens if the seller has only given a warranty for a period of one year? Most individuals view a warranty as something extra given to them by the seller. Most sellers
see this the same way as the consumer. If we take a moment to think about the buyer and seller, it means that within the one-year period, a seller will repair or, if necessary, replace a product at its expense. But what happens if something happens to the product after that period. Is the consumer then left empty-handed, or better said with dirty laundry? The Civil Code of Aruba regulates this very clearly: if there is no warranty and the product is sold non-compliant, then the consumer is protected by law. The consumer can take legal action against the seller to repair or, if necessary, replace the non-conforming product.
Illustration 3: Don’t be gullible and accept what the seller tries to sell you (Photo: PR Media on Unsplash)
If the seller fails to do so, the consumer can even claim compensation and, if it comes to that, even terminate the sales contract. If the warranty period is shorter than the period during which the consumer may expect the product to function as it should, then this is considered an exoneration. An exoneration minimizes the rights that a consumer has vis-à-vis a seller. With a one-year warranty, the seller exonerates herself from liability with regard to the conformity of a product. Please note that we are talking about a consumer here and not a professional buyer. Does such a situation look familiar? Let’s take a closer look.If there is a consumer purchase, then a seller is not allowed to exonerate herself and therefore the consumer is protected by the law. Thus, the seller has to repair the product at her expense, replace it if necessary and she is not allowed to charge the consumer for any cost. The seller can also rescind the sales contract but then she must refund to the consumer the purchase price. How many times have we as consumers in Aruba experienced the above situation and where a seller only gives a warranty of six months or less and if you want a longer warranty period, you then have to pay for this? Would it be bold to say: always.
Illustration 4: Your purchase should make you happy, not stressful when a problem occurs (Photo: Lukas Denier on Unsplash)
So, the next time you buy something, you may want to reconsider buying that extra warranty and you may want to save that money or use it to buy a more expensive model of what you are purchasing. Naturally, every situation is different and that what has been brought forward here is the general explanation of how warranties and exonerations work. Next time, we will talk about the terms and conditions.