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Do I have rights six years after a purchase?

Q Nuala contacted Smart Consumer about a laptop that she purchased in December 2010. Nuala writes: "Last month, the day before the 12-month guarantee was finished, the laptop stopped working.

"I brought it back to the shop that evening," she continues "and they sent it back to the manufacturer. It was returned after Christmas with a new hard drive but only with a three-month guarantee on the part."

Nuala says that she told the shop assistant that her consumer rights covered her laptop for up to six years, and she wants to know if she was correct in pointing this out.

A Nuala is correct in that, under the statute of limitations, you can take a claim within six years of purchase in relation to a defective product. You also have to take into account the expected life span of the product when it comes to deciding whether you have a valid claim some time after purchase.

This is for when your consumer rights have been breached; in other words when the product you buy is faulty or the service not as described. And you would be claiming against the shop or service provider, ie, the business you purchased from.

The confusion here seems to be that the manufacturer has given Nuala a three-month guarantee on her repaired laptop. However, this guarantee is a private contract between Nuala and the manufacturer and is entirely separate and in addition to her consumer rights.

Under a guarantee (or warrantee) from the manufacturer, they can stipulate any time frame in which they will provide a remedy for problems with the product you buy. They are essentially protecting the reputation of their brand.

So if something goes wrong, and your guarantee is valid, then use it.

But don't forget that even if your guarantee has expired (or even if you never had one), you still have consumer rights and under them the obligation to provide a remedy lies with the shop, not the manufacturer.

Irish Independent