Thank you for your information about the legal guarantee of two years (The Sunday Times, April 16). It is astonishing how many people I spoke to have no idea about this protection, but they are still outnumbered by traders who claim ignorance of the legal warranty and offer a commercial guarantee that is inferior to the legal guarantee.
Particularly galling are traders who offer a one-year warranty, which you can then 'upgrade' to two years - at a charge, of course, so you pay for something that is already rightfully yours anyway.
Well, keep up the good work. (Jan-Wouter Stigter)
Indeed, this is an issue that I intend to continue clarifying ad nauseam. Perhaps one day all consumers will be aware of their rights in this context and they will insist on them. Unfortunately, there are too many traders who exploit consumers' ignorance.
The legal guarantee is valid for two years and protects consumers against a latent defect (i.e., a defect that cannot be seen when the item is purchased). Since it had been anticipated that rogue traders might try to evade this issue through contractual clauses, the law further drives the point home, and in article 81 it is stressed:
"Any contractual clauses or agreements concluded by the consumer with the trader, before the lack of conformity is brought to the attention of the trader, are not binding on the consumer if such clauses or agreements directly or indirectly waive or restrict the rights available under this Part."
As regular readers know, we have a list of suppliers who offer superior commercial guarantees. Here is our current list (in alphabetical order), including details, of the relevant suppliers:
Aplan Ltd: managing director Alex A. Mizzi; general manager Lino Apap. Head office (and outlet): Aplan Centre, Birkirkara Bypass, Birkirkara BKR 14, tel: 2148-0590, 2148-0593; fax 2148-0598; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Centro Casalinga: managing director Jacques Scerri. Head office: J.J. Scerri Co. Ltd, Quarries Street, St Venera; tel: 2125-0980/1/2; fax 2123-5942; e-mail email@example.com.
Forestals (Appliances) Ltd: managing director Tancred Tabone. Head office: 110, The Strand, Sliema; tel: 2343-6000; fax 2134-4709; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http:// www.forestals.com
Oxford House Ltd: managing director John Galea. Head office: Notabile Road, Mriehel; tel: 2144-2334; fax 2148-8656; e-mail email@example.com. Outlet: Notabile Road, Mriehel.
The Phoenix Group: managing director Steve Petroni. Head office (and outlet): Old Railway Track, St Venera; tel: 2385-2200; Servicing Department: 2385-2300; fax 2144-9216; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.phoenixgroupmalta.com.
I had meetings with these suppliers to ensure that they complied with the respective laws before resuming regular publication of the list. I also added some conditions they had to adhere to if they wanted to retain their inclusion in the list. It proved to be a laborious task but well worth the effort.
In accordance with the law, suppliers are obliged to inform buyers whether the guarantee is transferable or not. As long as they inform the buyer, they can choose not to make it transferable. However, suppliers in our list actually agree to make their guarantee transferable.
With regard to bulky appliances, if their customers come up against faults or breakdowns during the guarantee period, they can call them by phone. Should it not be possible to sort out the problem on the phone, these suppliers will call at their customers' address and there will be no 'call-out' fee charged.
Another important aspect of their guarantees is that these suppliers offer coverage for "parts, labour and transport" for the full duration of the guarantee period.
So, if you have any problems with the listed traders on their guarantee terms and conditions, write to me. I maintain a meaningful dialogue with the respective managing directors/ general managers and I am rather strict with them.
In fact, we used to have about ten suppliers in our original list but, over the years, it has dwindled down to five. I dare say the five companies listed are determined to continue to be included in our list. With such suppliers offering such guarantees, I do not see why you should accept inferior commercial guarantees.