Spanish Consumer rights - Guarantees and returns
Can I Return Anything To A Store?
Basically no. If you think you might change your mind about what you’re going to purchase, check the store’s policy first. Stores are not legally required to accept returned goods just because you’ve changed your mind or decided you don’t like them. However most chain stores in Spain do have a “no-quibble” returns period of around 7-15 days.
If you´re not 100% convinced about what you’re buying, or are impulsive and often regret your purchases, you’re probably better off buying online. By law you have 14 days to return items without having to give a reason for the return.
Remember that some items can never be returned (unless they’re faulty) such as personalised and bespoke goods, underwear, items used for personal hygiene, or DVD’s / Blu-rays / video games if already opened.
How long is the legal guarantee for new and second-hand goods?
The duration is 2 years for new goods and 12 months for second-hand goods.
If the product is defective, who is responsible for putting things right?
The seller, even for purchases made on an Internet platform. However, the platform may have agreed to act as an intermediary so read the terms and conditions.
By when must the consumer notify the seller of a defect?
Within 2 months of noticing the defect.
Who has to prove the presence/absence of a defect and how long do they have to do this?
The seller must prove that the item was not defective for the first 6 months after the delivery of the product ("reversal of burden of proof"). After that, the consumer must prove that it was defective.
Is there a third party testing body that can help to provide proof?
The consumer can ask any repair shop for an expert opinion, but this might not be accepted by the seller. In the event of a court procedure, the judge may accept the consumer's expert's opinion or ask for an independent expert opinion.
What remedies is the consumer entitled to free of charge? Is there a deadline for implementing the solution?
There is a "hierarchy of remedies":
REPAIR OR EXCHANGE OF THE PRODUCT
This is the most usual solution: faulty goods are normally exchanged, or in some cases repaired. The consumer cannot be charged for delivery costs, labour or materials. Any repair must be carried out in a reasonable timeframe.
During the time of repair the 2-year guarantee period is suspended from the date the consumer deposits the goods with the vendor until the date they’re returned.
Watch out if you’re offered a credit note. This reduces your rights by forcing you to use the credit note in that store; if your size/colour/etc isn’t in stock, insist on a refund (see Option 3)
PARTIAL REFUND or reduction of the purchase price if repair or replacement is impossible, but only under certain conditions
In some cases you may be willing to keep the goods and accept a partial refund. The amount refunded must be proportional to the original price and what you would have paid if the fault had been pointed out when purchased.
You can exercise this option when the vendor cannot substitute the goods. A refund will be made by the same payment means, so if you paid by credit card then you’ll get a credit on your monthly card statement.
Is the repaired/replaced product covered by a new guarantee?
In the case of repairs, the legal guarantee period is only extended by the time necessary for repair. In the case of replacement, a new guarantee comes into force for 2 years from delivery of the replacement.
Sales Items Bought In Store
Normal consumer rights remain the same during the sales. In other words you have no statutory right to return items simply because you don’t like them.
Larger stores with nationwide branches tend to be more flexible and allow exchanges or returns even if you’ve changed your mind. Watch out though with clothes for special occasions, they may have different rules to avoid people wearing them once and returning.
Returns are normally refunded by the same method of payment, if you paid by card you’ll get a credit on your next statement.
Smaller stores may put up signs saying no returns during sales periods, check before you buy. Even if a sign is visible, this does not affect faulty items as these can always be returned.
Smaller stores may not accept payment by credit card during sales or may increase the threshold below which cards aren’t accepted.
National / Regional Regulations in Spain
Sales items should have been on offer at a higher price prior to the sales commencing. Labels should show the previous price and the new reduced price.
During the sales regional inspectors carry out checks on stores to ensure that they are following the regulations, however fines are few and far between!
Sales periods differ depending on each region. Summer sales are generally held in July and August, winter sales in January and February. However legislation is changing and some regions may be able to hold sales at any time of the year.
Warranties are not affected by the price of the product and neither are any post-sales services
Can the consumer take action against the importer or any intermediary in the supply chain up to and including the producer?
Yes. Under the legal guarantee against hidden defects (see below), the consumer can return the product to any intermediary in the supply chain.
If no amicable solution can be found, what is the deadline for taking the case to court?
The prescription period is 3 years from delivery of the goods unless there is a suspension of the statutory limitation.
Are any other legal guarantees laid down in national law coexisting with the legal conformity guarantee?
Yes. There is a guarantee against hidden defects, but the consumer must prove the existence of any such defect.
Who is responsible for application of the warranty?
The party offering the warranty, be it the seller, the producer or a third party guarantor. Always refer to the documentation provided.
On average, how long is a commercial warranty?
1 to 5 years, and in most cases 2 years, as with the legal guarantee. More expensive goods usually have a longer warranty which often applies to specific parts of the product.
Is it free of charge?
Not necessarily. The trader can fix the conditions, so it can be free of charge or offered against payment.
Does it have to be confirmed in writing?
The seller has to provide the commercial warranty in a written document or in a durable and accessible format.
What information is required?
It must include the content of the warranty, all essential elements such as duration and geographical coverage, details of the company offering it and a reminder of the legal guarantee.
New Consumer Legislation 2014
March 2014 saw the introduction of amendments to the Spanish Consumer Law, specifically regarding some aspects of online sales such as increasing from 7 to 14 days the period for returns if you’ve changed your mind.
However, the new legislation still does nothing regarding imposing important economic sanctions on companies that continue to ignore consumer rights. Even when a company is sanctioned, a consumer still needs to go to court if they want to receive compensation for damages – thus leaving companies in a position of power.
What If The Company Refuses To Substitute/Repair/Give a Refund?
In this case request the official claims form “Hoja de Reclamaciones” (see our guide at the link about how to use them).
Remember DO NOT leave your original documents (invoice, receipt, guarantee) with the vendor.