Your rights in case of a complaint

Do you speak German? Here you can read this text in German.

Do you speak Polish? Here you can read this text in Polish.

Your brand new laptop is refusing to switch on or your dishwasher has broken down after just a few months? Many people have problems with defective products and rightly want to complain about them. But what you can demand in such situations is not always clear. Do you first have to get the defective item repaired or can you return it immediately and claim the money back? We explain these and other questions about successful complaints.

Reklamation: falsche Ware geliefert
On

Making a complaint (“reklamieren” in German) means: Registering a complaint indicating that a purchased item does not work or look as agreed and demanding a solution to the problem.

When can I make a complaint?

You can complain about any product that has a defect when you buy it. A product is said to be defective if its condition is not as agreed. For example, you can complain if the shoes you have ordered are the wrong size or colour. You can also complain if the products are damaged or do not work properly. A product is also defective if it was not delivered completely, the assembly instructions are missing or they are incomprehensible. 

But watch out: It is important that the product should be defective when you get it from the dealer. If, for example, you use the coffee machine you bought incorrectly or your dog scratches the leather sofa, you cannot complain about these defects to the dealer. 

Some dealers say that you must complain about the defective goods to the manufacturer. But this is not true. Dealers are legally obliged to take care of the defective products. This is called warranty ("Gewährleistung" in German). You have this right by law and you cannot renounce it voluntarily.

What rights do I have when making a complaint?

If you have received a defective product, you can ask for its repair or replacement (this is called supplementary performance). It is not possible to immediately return the products and demand your money back. The dealer must have the chance to fulfil the contract and give you a faultless product. 
If he does not do this in time or refuses to do so, you can withdraw from the contract and demand the money back. Exception: If the defect is minor, you cannot cancel the contract. You can also demand a price reduction to get a part of the money back. This makes sense if you can use the products despite the defect.

The best option is to make complaints in writing! If you ask the dealer to repair or replace the defective item, you should also set a deadline.

How long is the warranty period? 

You have a statutory warranty right for two years after you have received the item. During this time, the dealer must repair or replace a defective item. Restriction: The dealer can reduce this period to one year in the case of used goods.

If the trader rejects your complaint, the consumer advice centre will also help you with personal advice

Who must prove the defect? 

During the first six months, it is assumed that the products were already defective when they were purchased. 
This means: If the seller claims that he/she delivered a faultless product and the defect occurred later, he/she has to prove it.
Thereafter, it is the other way round: The customer has to prove that the product is defective and that the defect existed at the time of purchase.

Who bears the costs?

The examination of the claimed item by the seller must not cost anything. The seller shall pay if transport or dismantling and assembly are required. 

What is the difference between guarantee and warranty? 

The guarantee is an additional service that the dealer or manufacturer offers voluntarily in addition to the legal warranty. If you want to make a complaint about a product, you should first check which is cheaper in your case: guarantee or complaint. Read the conditions in the guarantee certificate. In most cases, a guarantee applies to production and material defects that occur within the guarantee period. The advantage: In case of a guarantee, you do not have to prove that the product was damaged at the time of purchase.

Is the purchased item faultless, but you are not satisfied with the purchase? You may have a right of withdrawal. Here we explain how to do this.