2 Year Warranty Eu Law Essays

European Union law is a system of rules operating within the member states of the European Union. Since the founding of the Coal and Steel Community after World War II, the EU has developed the aim to "promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples".[2] The EU has political institutions, social and economic policies, which transcend nation-states for the purpose of cooperation and human development.[3] According to its Court of Justice the EU represents "a new legal order of international law".[4] The EU's legal foundations are the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, unanimously agreed by the governments of 28 member states. New members may join, if they agree to play by the rules of the organisation, and existing members may leave according to their "own constitutional requirements".[5] People are entitled to participate through the Parliament, and their national governments in shaping the legislation the EU makes. The Commission has the initiative for legislation, the Council of the European Union represents member state governments, the Parliament is elected by European citizens, while the Court of Justice is meant to uphold the rule of law and human rights.[6] As the Court of Justice has said, the EU is "not merely an economic union" but is intended to "ensure social progress and seek the constant improvement of the living and working conditions of their peoples".[7]

History[edit]

Main articles: History of the European Union, Ideas of European unity before 1945, and Enlargement of the European Union

Democratic ideals of integration for international and European nations are as old as the modern nation-state.[9] Ancient concepts of European unity were generally undemocratic, and founded on domination, like the Empire of Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, or the Catholic Church controlled by the Pope in Rome. In the Renaissance, medieval trade flourished in organisations like the Hanseatic League, stretching from English towns like Boston and London, to Frankfurt, Stockholm and Riga. These traders developed the lex mercatoria, spreading basic norms of good faith and fair dealing through their business. In 1517, the Protestant Reformation triggered a hundred years of crisis and instability. Martin Luther nailed a list of demands to the church door of Wittenberg, King Henry VIII declared a unilateral split from Rome with the Act of Supremacy 1534, and conflicts flared across the Holy Roman Empire until the Peace of Augsburg 1555 guaranteed each principality the right to its chosen religion (cuius regio, eius religio). This unstable settlement unravelled in the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), killing around a quarter of the population in central Europe. The Treaty of Westphalia 1648, which brought peace according to a system of international law inspired by Hugo Grotius, is generally acknowledged as the beginning of the nation-state system. Even then, the English Civil War broke out and only ended with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, by Parliament inviting William and Mary from Hannover to the throne, and passing the Bill of Rights 1689. In 1693 William Penn, a Quaker from London who founded Pennsylvania in North America, argued that to prevent ongoing wars in Europe a "European dyet, or parliament" was needed.[10] The French diplomat, Charles-Irénée Castel de Saint-Pierre, who worked negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht at the end of the War of Spanish Succession proposed, through "Perpetual Union", "an everlasting peace in Europe",[11] a project taken up by Jean-Jacques Rousseau,[12] and Immanuel Kant after him.[13] After the Napoleonic Wars and the Revolutions of 1848 in the 19th century, Victor Hugo at the International Peace Congress in 1849 envisioned a day when there would be a "United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas".[14]World War One devastated Europe's society and economy, and the Versailles Treaty failed to establish a workable international system in the League of Nations, any European integration, and imposed punishing terms of reparation payments for the losing countries.[15] After another economic collapse and the rise of fascism led to a Second World War, European civil society was determined to create a lasting union to guarantee world peace through economic, social and political integration.

To "save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice.. brought untold sorrow to mankind",[16] the United Nations Charter was passed in 1945, and the Bretton Woods conference set up a new system of integrated world banking, finance and trade. Also, the Council of Europe, formed by the Treaty of London 1949, adopted a European Convention on Human Rights, overseen by a new transnational court in Strasbourg in 1950. Already in 1946 Winston Churchill, who had been recently defeated as UK Prime Minister in 1945, had called for a "United States of Europe", though this did not mean the UK would sever its ties to the Commonwealth. In 1950, the French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed that, beginning with integration of French and German coal and steel production, there should be "an organisation open to the participation of the other countries of Europe", where "solidarity in production" would make war "not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible".[17] The Treaty of Paris 1951 created the first European Coal and Steel Community, signed by France, West Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy, with Jean Monnet as its President. Its theory was simply that war would be impossibly costly if ownership and production of every country's economy was mixed together. It established an Assembly (now the European Parliament) to represent the people, a Council of Ministers for the member states, a Commission as the executive, and a Court of Justice to interpret the law. In the East, the Soviet Union had installed dictatorial governments, controlling East Germany, and the rest of Eastern Europe. Although Stalin died in 1953 and the new general secretaryNikita Khrushchev had denounced him in 1956,[18] Soviet tanks crushed a democratic Hungarian Revolution of 1956, and repressed every other attempt of its people to win democracy and human rights.

In the West, the decision was made through Treaty of Rome 1957 to launch the first European Economic Community. It shared the Assembly and Court with the Coal and Steel Community, but set up parallel bodies for the Council and Commission. Based on the Spaak Report of 1956, it sought to break down all barriers to trade in a common market for goods, services, labour and capital, and prevent distortion of competition and regulate areas of common interest like agriculture, energy and transport.[20] A separate treaty was signed for a European Atomic Energy Community to manage nuclear production. In 1961 the United Kingdom, Denmark, Ireland and Norway applied for membership only to be vetoed in 1963 by France's Charles de Gaulle. Spain also applied and was rejected as it was still led by the Franco dictatorship. The same year, the Court of Justice proclaimed that the Community constituted a "new legal order of international law".[4] The Merger Treaty 1965 finally placed the ECSC and Euratom within the EEC. Shortly after, de Gaulle boycotted the Commission, which he believed was pressing supranationalism too far. The Luxembourg compromise in 1966 agreed that France (or other countries) could veto issues of "very important national interest", particularly relating to the Common Agricultural Policy, instead of making decisions by "qualified majority". But after the May 1968 events in France and de Gaulle's resignation, the way was free for the United Kingdom, Ireland and Denmark to join in 1973. Norway had rejected joining in a 1972 referendum, while the UK confirmed its membership in a 1975 referendum.[21] Aside from the European Economic Community itself, the European continent underwent a profound transition towards democracy. The dictators of Greece and Portugal were deposed in 1974, and Spain's dictator died in 1975, enabling their accession in 1981 and 1986. In 1979, the European Parliament had its first direct elections, reflecting a growing consensus that the EEC should be less a union of member states, and more a union of peoples. The Single European Act 1986 increased the number of treaty issues in which qualified majority voting (rather than consensus) would be used to legislate, as a way to accelerate trade integration. The Schengen Agreement of 1985 (not initially signed by Italy, the UK, Ireland, Denmark or Greece) allowed movement of people without any border checks. Meanwhile, in 1987, the Soviet Union's Mikhail Gorbachev announced policies of "transparency" and "restructuring" (glasnost and perestroika). This revealed the depths of corruption and waste. In April 1989, the People's Republic of Poland legalised the Solidarity organisation, which captured 99% of available parliamentary seats in June elections. These elections, in which anti-communist candidates won a striking victory, inaugurated a series of peaceful anti-communist revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe that eventually culminated in the fall of communism. In November 1989, protestors in Berlin began taking down the Berlin Wall, which became a symbol of the collapse of the Iron Curtain, with most of Eastern Europe declaring independence and moving to hold democratic elections by 1991.

The Treaty of Maastricht 1992 renamed the EEC as the "European Union", and expanded its powers to include a social chapter, set up a European Exchange Rate Mechanism, and limit government spending. The UK initially opted out of the social provisions, and then monetary union after the Black Wednesday crisis where speculators bet against the pound. Sweden, Finland and Austria joined in 1995, but Norway again chose not to after a 1994 referendum, instead remaining part of the European Economic Area, abiding by most EU law, but without any voting rights. At the Treaty of Amsterdam 1997, with a new Labour government, the UK joined the social chapter. A newly confident EU then sought to expand. First, the Treaty of Nice 2001 made voting weight more proportionate to population (two Irish referenda rejected, but then accepted this). Second, the Euro currency went into circulation in 2002. Third came the accession of Malta, Cyprus, Slovenia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. Fourth, in 2005 a Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe was proposed. This "Constitution" was largely symbolic, but was rejected by referenda in France and the Netherlands. Most of its technical provisions were inserted into the Treaty of Lisbon 2007, without the emotive symbols of federalism or the word "constitution". Also in 2007, Bulgaria and Romania joined. Over 2007 to 2008, because of the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, and the developing global financial crisis European banks that had invested in derivatives were put under severe pressure. British, French, German and other governments were forced to nationalise or guarantee their banks' debts. In turn, the Eurozone crisis developed when international investment withdrew and Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland saw international bond markets charge unsustainably high interest rates on government debt. Eurozone governments and staff of the European Central Bank believed that it was necessary to save their banks by taking over Greek debt, and impose "austerity" and "structural adjustment" measures on debtor countries. This exacerbated further contraction in the economies. In 2011 two new treaties, the European Fiscal Compact and European Stability Mechanism were signed among Eurozone countries. In 2013, Croatia entered the EU. However a further crisis was triggered after the UK's Conservative government chose to hold a referendum in 2016, and campaigners for "leave" won 51.89 per cent of votes on a 72.2 per cent turnout.[22]

Constitutional law[edit]

Main articles: Constitutional law, UK constitutional law, Grundgesetz, Constitution of France, and United States constitutional law

Although the European Union does not have a codified constitution,[26] like every political body it has laws which "constitute" its basic governance structure.[27] The EU's primary constitutional sources are the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which have been agreed or adhered to among the governments of all 28 member states. The Treaties establish the EU's institutions, list their powers and responsibilities, and explain the areas in which the EU can legislate with Directives or Regulations. The European Commission has the initiative to propose legislation.[28] During the ordinary legislative procedure, the Council (which are ministers from member state governments) and the European Parliament (elected by citizens) can make amendments and must give their consent for laws to pass.[29] The Commission oversees departments and various agencies that execute or enforce EU law. The "European Council" (rather than the Council, made up of different government Ministers) is composed of the Prime Ministers or executive presidents of the member states. It appoints the Commissioners and the board of the European Central Bank. The European Court of Justice is the supreme judicial body which interprets EU law, and develops it through precedent. The Court can review the legality of the EU institutions' actions, in compliance with the Treaties. It can also decide upon claims for breach of EU laws from member states and citizens.

Treaties[edit]

Main article: Treaties of the European Union

The Treaty on European Union (TEU) and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) are the two main sources of EU law. Representing agreements between all member states, the TEU focuses more on principles of democracy, human rights, and summarises the institutions, while the TFEU expands on all principles and fields of policy in which the EU can legislate. In principle, the EU treaties are like any other international agreement, which will usually be interpreted according to principles codified by the Vienna Convention 1969.[30] It can be amended by unanimous agreement at any time, but TEU itself, in article 48, sets out an amendment procedure through proposals via the Council and a Convention of national Parliament representatives.[31] Under TEU article 5(2), the "principle of conferral" says the EU can do nothing except the things which it has express authority to do. The limits of its competence are governed by the Court of Justice, and the courts and Parliaments of member states.[32]

As the European Union has grown from 6 to 28 member states, a clear procedure for accession of members is set out in TEU article 49. The European Union is only open to a "European" state which respects the principles of "human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities". Countries whose territory is wholly outside the European continent cannot therefore apply.[33] Nor can any country without fully democratic political institutions which ensure standards of "pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail".[34] Article 50 says any member state can withdraw in accord "with its own constitutional requirements", by negotiated "arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union". This indicates that the EU is not entitled to demand a withdrawal, and that member states should follow constitutional procedures, for example, through Parliament or a codified constitutional document.[5] Once article 50 is triggered, there is a two-year time limit to complete negotiations, a procedure which would leave a seceding member without any bargaining power in negotiations, because the costs of having no trade treaty would be proportionally greater to the individual state than the remaining EU bloc.[35] Article 7 allows member states to be suspended for a "clear risk of a serious breach" of values in article 2 (for example, democracy, equality, human rights) with a four-fifths vote of the Council of the European Union, and the consent of the Parliament.[36] Within the treaties' framework, sub-groups of member states may make further rules that only apply to those member states who want them. For example, the Schengen Agreements of 1985 and 1990 allow people to move without any passport or ID checks anywhere in the EU, but did not apply to the UK or Ireland. More recently, during the Eurozone crisis, the Treaty Establishing the European Stability Mechanism 2012 and the Treaty on Stability, Co-ordination and Governance 2012 (the "Fiscal Compact") were adopted only for member states who had the Euro (i.e. not Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Romania or Bulgaria). This required, among other things, a pledge to balance the government budget and limit structural deficits to 0.5 per cent of GDP, with fines for non-compliance. The jurisdiction for these rules remains with the Court of Justice.[37]

Executive institutions[edit]

Main articles: European Commission, European Civil Service, and European Central Bank

The European Commission is the main executive body of the European Union.[38] Article 17(1) of the Treaty on European Union states the Commission should "promote the general interest of the Union" while Article 17(3) adds that Commissioners should be "completely independent" and not "take instructions from any Government". Under Article 17(2), "Union legislative acts may only be adopted on the basis of a Commission proposal, except where the Treaties provide otherwise". This means that the Commission has a monopoly on initiating the legislative procedure, although the Council or Parliament are the "de facto catalysts of many legislative initiatives".[39]

The Commission's President (currently an ex-Luxembourg Prime Minister, Jean-Claude Juncker) sets the agenda for its work.[40] Decisions are taken by a simple majority vote,[41] often through a "written procedure" of circulating the proposal and adopting it if there are no objections.[citation needed] In response to Ireland's initial rejection of the Treaty of Lisbon 2007, it was agreed to keep the system of one Commissioner from each of the member states, including the President and the High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy (currently Federica Mogherini)[42] The Commissioner President is elected by the European Parliament by an absolute majority of its members, following the parliamentary elections every five years, on the basis of a proposal by the European Council. The latter must take account of the results of the European elections, in which European political parties announce the name of their candidate for this post. Hence, in 2014, Juncker, the candidate of the European People's Party which won the most seats in Parliament, was proposed and elected.

The remaining Commissioners are appointed by agreement between the President-elect and each national government, and are then, as a block, subject to a qualified majority vote of the Council to approve, and majority approval of the Parliament.[43] The Parliament can only approve or reject the whole Commission, not individual Commissioners but conducts public hearings with each of them prior to its vote, which in practice often triggers changes to individual appointments or portfolios. TFEU art 248 says the President may reshuffle Commissioners, though this is uncommon, without member state approval. A proposal that the Commissioners be drawn from the elected Parliament, was not adopted in the Treaty of Lisbon, though in practice several invariable are, relinquishing their seat in order to serve.

Commissioners have various privileges, such as being exempt from member state taxes (but not EU taxes),[45] and having immunity from prosecution for doing official acts.[46] Commissioners have sometimes been found to have abused their offices, particularly since the Santer Commission was censured by Parliament in 1999, and it eventually resigned due to corruption allegations. This resulted in one main case, Commission v Edith Cresson[47] where the European Court of Justice held that a Commissioner giving her dentist a job, for which he was clearly unqualified, did in fact not break any law. By contrast to the ECJ's relaxed approach, a Committee of Independent Experts found that a culture had developed where few Commissioners had 'even the slightest sense of responsibility'.[48] This led to the creation of the European Anti-fraud Office. In 2012 it investigated the Maltese Commissioner for Health, John Dalli, who quickly resigned after allegations that he received a €60m bribe in connection with a Tobacco Products Directive.[49]

Beyond the Commission, the European Central Bank has relative executive autonomy in its conduct of monetary policy for the purpose of managing the euro.[50] It has a six-person board appointed by the European Council, on the Council's recommendation. The President of the Council and a Commissioner can sit in on ECB meetings, but do not have voting rights.

Legislature[edit]

Main articles: Legislature of the European Union, European Parliament, Council of the European Union, and European Council

The Parliament and the Council of the European Union form the European Union's bi-cameral legislature. While the Commission has a monopoly on initiating (i.e. proposing) legislation, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union adopt it (or not), including the right to amend it during the legislative process.[51]

According to the Treaty on European Union articles 9 and 10, the EU observes "the principle of equality of its citizens" and is founded on "representative democracy". Although they cannot normally adopt legislation without a Commission proposal being put to them, both Council and Parliament have the right to request the Commission to draft a proposal for their consideration. In the Council, "qualified majorities" or consensus of the Council are required, depending on the subject matter, to legislate.[52]

The Parliament is elected every five years by direct universal suffrage, with every Member State using proportional representation. Seats are allocated in function of the size of each country, but with a slight bias towards smaller Member States ("degressive proortionality"), therefore not quite according to the "principle of equality of its citizens".[53]

Under the original Treaty of Rome, the Parliament was given only a consultative role. The justification for this "democratic deficit" is usually thought to be that integration of the European economy and the development of political institutions required the technical coordination of experts, while popular understanding of the EU developed and nationalist sentiments declined post-war. Over time, the Parliament gradually assumed a greater role: from being an unelected assembly, to its first direct elections in 1979, to having increasingly more rights in the legislative process.[54] Citizens' rights are therefore limited compared to the democratic polities within all European member states: under TEU article 11 citizens and associations have the rights such as publicising their views and submit an initiative that must be considered by the Commission with one million signatures. TFEU article 227 contains a further right for citizens to petition the Parliament on issues which affect them.[55]

Parliament elections, take place every five years, and votes for Members of the European Parliament in member states must be organised by proportional representation or a single transferable vote.[56] There are 751 MEPs and their numbers are "degressively proportional" according to member state size.[57] currently distributed as follows: Germany 96. France 74. UK and Italy 73. Spain 54. Poland 51. Romania 31. Netherlands 26. Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal 21. Sweden 20. Austria 18. Bulgaria 17. Denmark, Slovakia, Finland 13. Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania 11. Latvia, Slovenia 8. Estonia, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta 6.

MEPs divide, as they do in national Parliaments, along political party lines: the centre-right European People's Party and the Party of European Socialists are the two largest. Parties do not receive public funds from the EU for election campaigns, as the Court of Justice held in Parti écologiste "Les Verts" v Parliament that this was entirely an issue to be regulated by the member states.[58] The Parliament's powers also include adopting the annual budget, calling inquiries into maladministration and appointing an Ombudsman who can investigate pending any court proceedings.[59] It can require the Commission respond to questions and by a two-thirds majority can censure (dismiss) the whole Commission (as effectively happened to the Santer Commission in 1999).[60] In some cases, the Parliament has explicit consultation rights, which the Commission must genuinely follow.[61]

The second main legislative body is the Council, which is composed of different ministers of the member states. The heads of government of member states also convene a "European Council" (a distinct body) that the TEU article 15 defines as providing the 'necessary impetus for its development and shall define the general political directions and priorities'. It meets each six months and its President (currently former Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk) is meant to 'drive forward its work',[62] but it does not itself exercise 'legislative functions'.[63] The Council does this: in effect this is the governments of the member states, but there will be a different minister at each meeting, depending on the topic discussed (e.g. for environmental issues, the member states' environment ministers attend and vote; for foreign affairs, the foreign ministers, etc.). The minister must have the authority to represent and bind the member states in decisions.[64] When voting takes place, where unanimity is not required, a "qualified majority" (defined as a majority of 55% of the Member States representing 65% of the population of the Union) can approve legislation. This replaces a previous system where votes were weighted according to member state size, (Germany, France, Italy, and UK: 29 votes each. Spain and Poland: 27. Romania: 14. Netherlands: 13. Belgium, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal: 12. Bulgaria, Austria, Sweden: 10. Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Finland: 7. Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxembourg, Slovenia: 4. Malta: 3.) This was set by the 2014 Protocol No 36 on Transitional Provisions, art 3(3) amended by art 20 for Croatia Accession Treaty 2011. In total there were 352 votes, but for most acts there must be a qualified majority vote, if not consensus. TEU article 16(4) and TFEU article 238(3) define this to mean at least 55 per cent of the Council members (not votes) representing 65 per cent of the population of the EU: currently this means around 74 per cent, or 260 of the 352 votes. This is critical during the legislative process.[65]

To make new legislation, TFEU article 294 defines the "ordinary legislative procedure" that applies for most EU acts.[67] The essence is there are three readings, starting with a Commission proposal, where the Parliament must vote by a simple majority in first reading, but requires a majority of all MEPs (not just those present) in second reading to amend or reject Council's position. On its side, the Council must vote by qualified majority to approve a proposal, but by unanimity to amend the Commission's proposal.[68] If the Parliament and Council have not adopted an identical text after two readings, a Conciliation committee

Two-year warranty (EU law)

By This Is Money
Updated: 15:25 GMT, 26 January 2010

A little-known EU directive is making shoppers feel like they have extra ammunition to return faulty goods for up to two years. It's not quite that simple. Read our guide to see if it can help you.

There has been an increase in people using a little-known European Union directive to get retailers to refund or replace faulty goods, even after the stated guarantee periods have ended.

The EU rule allowing the return of goods up to two years after purchase is at odds with the returns policies adopted by most major shops.

However, as this is a directive is only partially adopted by the UK, its use is a grey area.

Despite this, many shops have willingly refunded items when presented with the directive and its argument, so it could potentially improve your position.

So what has happened?

Most major retailers will have a stated returns policy that complies with UK consumer law. Those interested can see the exact wording of the Sale of Goods act here, but put simply the law says that retailers must sell goods that are 'as described, fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality'.

If a defect is detected when, or in a reasonable period of time after, the sale is made, then buyers can demand a full refund.

However, the rules get fuzzier when faults develop over time and a buyer has to return goods after possessing them for a longer period.

Under UK law, buyers in England and Wales can get a partial refund or full repair up to six years after the purchase was made (five years from discovery in Scotland). The refund should take into account how much use the customer has already had of a product. Ultimately, a county court would decide this.

However, the likelihood of getting such a refund is dramatically reduced after just six months. The reason is that for six months after the purchase, it is up to the retailer to show that a fault on an item is down to the actions or misuse of the buyer, rather than an inherent fault in the product.

After six months, the burden of proof switches to the buyer and it is they who must then show a fault is due to some inherent problem, something that can be almost impossible in all but the most straightforward cases.

Sounds complicated?

For example, the plasma TV you bought five months ago stops working without explanation and you return to the shop you bought it from, expecting a refund. The store manager is reluctant but can find no explanation for the fault. There are no scratches or damage to show it has been dropped, or signs of water damage. Complying with the Sales of Goods Act, he understands without such proof he must refund you money.

But were the fault to develop at seven months, he would not need such proof. The TV may show no signs of damage or misuse, but the store manager no longer needs to show there was any. Instead, you must show to him that there was a shoddy component or design fault that caused the problem. In the absence of these things, he is under no obligation to return your money.

In reality, most retailers offer returns policies that extend this 6-month period to 12 months. But after that refunds are hard to come by.

So how does the EU rule change things?

The EU directive in question is 1999/44/EC. The full wording is contained here (open the word documtent and scroll to page 7) but the important bit is this: 'A two-year guarantee applies for the sale of all consumer goods everywhere in the EU. In some countries, this may be more, and some manufacturers also choose to offer a longer warranty period.'

As with UK law, a seller is not bound by the guarantee 'if the (fault) has its origin in materials supplied by the consumer'. But the EU rule does not require the buyer to show the fault is inherent in the product and not down to their actions.

The EU rule also says buyers need to report a problem within two months of discovering it if they want to be covered under the rule.

How can I use this rule?

Reports of cases where shoppers have used the EU rule to get refunds suggest that even senior staff at stores may be unaware of it, so be prepared for some blank faces if you need to use it to argue your case. But eventually, after referring the complaint to legal teams, reports suggest the stores have coughed up.

Use this checklist to see if you could try and use the EU rule:

• The goods were purchased no longer than two years ago
• The store will not provide a refund or repair because you are returning the item after their return period has ended, usually one year
• You are reporting the fault within two months of discovering it
• The goods show no signs of damage through your actions or misuse.

The best advice is to print off the EU rule and take a copy with you. If staff fail to recognise it, ask them to take your details and report your complaint to their bosses. Take a note of the names of any staff you speak to and explain that you will contact them again soon for a response.

You may manage to get your refund on the basis of the EU directive, however, shops are within their rights to use the Sale of Goods Act as the definitive guideline instead.

What about warranties? Do I still need one?

The EU rule, while extending the guarantees for shoppers does not necessarily mean warranties have no value. Under a warranty you may get extra protection against accidental damage that would not be covered by the UK or EU regulations.

With or without the extra guarantee of the EU directive, warranties can be expensive and you should be clear about the value of any potential benefits before deciding to take one. Read our guide for help on what to look out for.

Updated August 2009

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