Consumers, their rights and obligations

Consumers, their rights and obligations
Published on: 11 May 2024

Table of contents

We are all habitual consumers. In fact, our whole life revolves around the consumption of products. The shopping basket, the Internet service provider, the clothes... We could spend hours listing all these aspects. Obviously, this means that we have a number of rights, but also a number of obligations. Specifically, all of this is set out in the Royal Legislative Decree 1/2007, of 16 November, which recasts the General Law for the Defence of Consumers and Users.

As lawyers specialising in commercial law, we have the purpose of breaking down this legal text and explaining to you in a clear and simple way what rights and obligations you are subject to.

Consumer rights

The product guarantee

The guarantee of the products and services we buy on a daily basis is probably the most important aspect of consumer rights. By this concept we mean the assurance given by the seller that, in the event that the good sold is not fit for use or does not meet the user's needs, the item can be returned and exchanged for another or reimbursed.

The guarantee covers any and all consumer goods except electricity, goods purchased through the courts and water and gas. In the latter two cases, this exception only applies when they have not been packaged for sale. In addition, the claim must be made against the seller. It is only the manufacturer's responsibility if it is impossible to claim from him.

In all cases, new products are covered by a two-year warranty, while second-hand products are covered by a maximum of twelve months. This period of time does not include the days during which the item is under repair or the days that you have to wait for a replacement. Warranty claims can be made for 3 years without any problems.

In case the defect is found during the first 6 months after the sale, it is understood to be of origin. On the other hand, the guarantee comes into force from the moment the product is purchased, which must appear on the corresponding ticket, receipt, invoice or delivery note. Any of these elements is sufficient and, at the same time, indispensable to make use of this right, that is to say, no specific guarantee document for the product delivered by the seller is necessary.

In the event that the buyer loses the purchase receipt and wants to make use of the product guarantee, things become more complicated, especially if payment has been made in cash. However, it is possible to prove the purchase at the centre by providing a bank charge or a financing document.

The legislative text referred to above does not say anything about the preservation of the packaging. However, some shops ask for it to be kept at least for the first 15 days, which is the period provided for immediate return without justification. This measure is in response to the need they may have to remarket the product if it is in good condition.

The user, through his right to the guarantee of the purchased product, can demand the repair or replacement of the good in the event that it shows the same defect that caused the original complaint. The cash refund is only enforceable during the first 14 days after the sale. Ultimately, the consumer has the power to claim damages if he/she deems it appropriate.

Product safety

All products marketed in our country must comply with current regulations. In fact, they must have the "CE" stamp of the European Union, which is especially important when they come from third countries. All of this is regulated in Royal Decree 1801/2003, of 26 December.

User safety means that the product meets all foreseeable conditions of use. If any anomaly is detected, beyond the right to return the product, the user can inform Red Alerta, a national system integrated in RAPEX, which is the European trade safety alert mechanism.

Consumer rights in e-commerce

E-commerce is becoming increasingly important. This concept includes all purchases made via the Internet, teleshopping services, by telephone, etc. Everything related to e-commerce is regulated in Law 34/2002, of 11 July, although the previous law referred to above must also be included.

Identification of the business

The business providing its services through any of these channels must clearly identify itself with its VAT number, name or company name, telephone number, e-mail address and, in general, all the means of contact available to it before, during and after the purchase process. You must also provide all the data concerning the item in question (delivery time, price, method of payment, etc.). If, for example, a website does not display this information, the consumer should be wary.

Payment security and personal data protection

Online or any other type of business that is considered to be telematic must provide secure payment platforms for their consumers. In the case of websites, they can be clearly identified by checking that the URL begins with "https" and not simply "http". This also ensures that the portal manages and protects its users' data.

For their part, these types of businesses are obliged, like any other, to comply strictly with the dictates of the Organic Law on Data Protection in force in Spain. This disallows them to use the personal data of their users for commercial and advertising purposes or to transfer them to third parties, provided that the data subject has not given his or her explicit consent to do so.

The right of withdrawal

The consumer, during the first 14 calendar days from receipt of the product, may change his mind and terminate the contract without penalty or charge, provided that the product is returned without any defect in use and even if it is unpacked. However, this withdrawal must be clearly and reliably stated.

Consumer obligations

The section on consumer obligations is rather more concise than the section on rights. However, although they may sound 'commonplace', it is important to remember them.

The most relevant of all is, of course, the obligation to pay the agreed price for the product at the time of purchase or by making use of the permitted means of financing. The law also requires that the consumer must act in good faith throughout the warranty relationship. Finally, it provides that the user must be proactive in terms of seeking information.

In short, these are the rights and obligations, both in the field of online and physical commerce, which are enshrined in the law. Always bear them in mind when making your complaints and demanding compliance with the guarantee of what you have purchased.

We hope we have been helpful.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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