independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

My friend fixed my laptop -- can I ask for a remedy from the seller?

Q Ronan contacted Smart Consumer with a story that should serve as a reminder to everyone to find out what consumer rights they enjoy.

Five years ago, he bought a laptop but there were problems with it from "day one". The following day a technician fixed the problem. Two years later, the problem started to re-occur.

"As we were over our one-year warranty," writes Ronan "and were not aware of our consumer rights, we asked a friend of ours to repair the laptop. Two hard drives later, we got it working."

The same problem happened another year and a half later, and once again he got a friend to fix the laptop.

Ronan wonders if the laptop and hard drive was to crash again, whether the retailer would still be liable to provide a remedy, given that two people not associated with the retailer have carried out repairs.

A The basic rule is that when a product is faulty the seller must provide a remedy. In Ronan's case, when the laptop broke down for the second time, he assumed the seller had no responsibility as his manufacturer's warranty had expired.

This was not the case. The manufacturer's warranty may have expired but Ronan's consumer rights are separate and under those the seller still had a responsibility to remedy a faulty product.

Under the Statute of Limitations, Ronan has six years to make a claim. So if the laptop breaks down within the next year, Ronan can still contact the trader to request a remedy and take a small-claims action if needs be.

However, his case isn't as straightforward any more. With time, your rights diminish and although the seller is aware of the initial fault, they are not aware of the defects that occurred in the years since, as they were repaired independently. Given that it is up to Ronan to prove there is a fault (as opposed to damage caused), this may now prove more difficult to do. Unsure of your consumer rights? Email Tina at tleonard@independent.ie

Irish Independent

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