The new Consumer Protection Act (ZVPot-1) entered into force on 26th of January 2023.
The main difference compared to the previous Act (ZVPot) is a two-step procedure. Under the former Act it was up to the consumer to decide how to proceed in case of a claim for material defects. The consumer could choose between a claim to repair the product, to exchange the product for a new one, a pro rata reduction of the purchasing price or a full refund.
However, the new Consumer Protection Act (ZVPot-1) sets the consumer should firstly (as a rule) demand restoration of the goods free of charge, which can be achieved through repairing the goods or replacing them. Only then can the consumer make a claim for a reduction of the purchasing price in proportion to the non-conformity of the product or a claim for a withdrawal from the sales contract and a claim for a refund for the amount paid (Article 81 of the Consumer Protection Act).
The new Act therefore introduces the obligation of a two-step procedure.
The seller has an obligation to establish the conformity of the goods within a reasonable period not exceeding 30 days of the consumer’s notice about the inconsistencies of the product. This period may be extended by the shortest time necessary to complete the repairs or to replace the product, but the extension may not be longer than 15 days. When determining the prolongation, circumstances stemming from the Consumer Protection Act should be considered.
Further assertation of the claims, i.e., the reduction of the purchasing price and withdrawal from the contract are thus now possible only if the seller did not ensure the conformity of a product within the legal time frame and in the manner prescribed by the law as defined in Article 83 of the Act.
Defect manifests itself shortly after the purchase
If the defect or the inconsistency occurs in less than 30 days after the day the product was purchased, the consumer may immediately withdraw from the sales contract and demand a refund of the purchasing price. In this case the procedure is not necessarily a two-step one, because in this instance the consumer has a right to refuse to have the product repaired or replaced. The withdrawal from the contract should be communicated to the seller via a declaration with which the consumer informs the seller about their withdrawal from the sales contract.
Non-conformity of goods
The consumer may exercise their rights under the non-conformity clause if they notify the seller of the non-conformity within two months from the date on which the non-conformity was detected. The notice regarding the inconsistency must contain a description (i.e., notification about a defect) and the consumer must enable the seller to examine the product.
If the existence of the non-conformity of goods is disputed, the seller notifies the consumer in writing within eight days from receiving the claim from the consumer. After eight days have passed the consumer should already know whether the seller decided to repair the defect or replace the product (or refund the purchasing price to the consumer in cases defined by the Consumers Protection Act) or whether the seller denies the existence of the non-conformity.
Any possible claims expire within two years from the date on which the consumer informed the seller of the non-conformity of goods.
Which Act applies
And which Act applies when claiming non-conformity of goods from 26 January 2023 onward?
For goods purchased before 26 January 2023, the procedures for claiming non-conformity of goods (defects) under the previous Consumer Protection Act (ZVPot) are still used. However, for purchases of goods from 26 January 2023 onwards, the new Act applies. Hence the procedure for exercising your rights depends on the date of purchase.
Every case is unique, consequently it is best to thoroughly check all the possible solutions and confer with a lawyer who can give you an advice best suitable for your particular case.
Written by Manca Trček