VENDOR’S RESPONSIBILITY TO INFORM
In accordance with Act No. 634/1992 Coll. on consumer protection, the vendor is required to inform about the scope, terms and conditions of liability for defective products and services, including a dispute with the terms of the contract. The vendor also must provide information about where you can make a claim of a defective product and how warranty repairs are to be carried out. When selling or providing services outside of the declared premises, the vendor is obliged to provide the consumer information, in writing, about the name and/or the address of the vendor where the consumer can make a claim even after the sale is concluded.
One of the ways a vendor can fulfill the legal requirement to provide this information is for the vendor to have claim terms and conditions. However, it is important to realize that, according to Section 627, Paragraph 3, and Section 56, Paragraph 3(c) of the Civil Code, the terms of liability for a defective item cannot deviate (under penalty of annulling the terms) from the law to the detriment of the consumers. Furthermore, the information given to consumers about their right to complain cannot limit the consumer’s legal rights, thereby misleading the consumer. Therefore, even the consumer’s agreement to these claim terms does not hold in a court of law. Claim terms may thus serve more as a vendor’s guideline for the process of handling complaints, i.e. a more detailed specification of terms, conditions and liability for defects and the process for consumer complaints as outlined in the Act.
THE CORRECT PROCEDURE FOR DEALING WITH A CUSTOMER COMPLAINT
The vendor is required to accept a claim at any location, where the claim can be accepted with respect to the product range sold or services provided at the location. Claims can also be accepted at the head office or other place of business.
The only exception to this is Section 625 of Act No. 40/1964 Coll. of the Civil Code, where the vendor designates, in the warranty, a third party for repairs instead of the vendor (service warranty). It should be noted, however, that a service warranty is intended only for repairs. For other legitimate claims, such as product replacement, a discount, or annulment of the contract, the consumer must deal solely with the vendor. The vendor must give the consumer a written receipt of the submitted claim, the substance of the claim, and a record of which resolution method the customer prefers. Furthermore, the receipt must contain the date and manner of resolving the claim, including confirmation of the repair and its duration, or a written justification for the rejection of the claim. This obligation also applies to third parties designated to carry out repairs. If the consumer fails to specify what form the claim settlement should take, the vendor, as part of his responsibility to inform, is obliged to inform him.
TIMELINES FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS
Claims, including the removal of defects, must be handled without undue delay and no later than 30 days from the date of the claim, unless the vendor and consumer agree to a longer period (Section 19, Paragraph 3 of the Law on Consumer Protection).