This Friday the sales campaign starts definitively, although some firms had already advanced the promotions on their web pages and others had anticipated the arrival of the Three Kings. And, since 2012 there are no longer temporary barriers to discounts, but merchants are the ones who decide when this period begins and ends. Although prices go down, consumer rights do not.
New warranty period
One of the main changes that 2022 brings is the extension of the warranty period for items, including discounted items, from two years to three. It also increases, from five to 10 years, the minimum time in which manufacturers are obliged to have spare parts once the product is no longer manufactured. Through a royal decree-law omnibus approved last April, the Government modified consumer regulations to "increase the durability of goods in the fight against obsolescence," as justified by the Executive.
In the case of digital products, the standard provides for a two-year warranty. This includes computer programs, applications, video files, audio files, music files, digital games, electronic books, or other such publications.
Payment with personal data
In addition, for the first time in Spain payment through personal data is regulated when the employer supplies digital content or services without price. It is a very frequent phenomenon in the field of social networks and computer applications.
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The measure is a revolution, because for years the debate about whether or not data can be considered a commodity has divided lawyers. “Until now, nowhere was it said that this was a contract and people thought that since the service was free, they had no rights. But the data acts as a consideration ”, he explains. Sergio Cámara, Professor of Civil Law at the University of La Rioja.
In fact, this consumer is endowed with a protection similar to that of the user who pays a price, among other things because their data has an "economic value" for technological platforms. And in return, if the consumer opposes the processing of the data, he empowers the employer to terminate the contract and stop providing services.
Right of withdrawal
On the other hand, this year an increase in e-commerce transactions is expected due to the new Omicron variant. However, whether it is an online purchase or one made in a physical store, the consumer has the right to withdraw from it. That is, “to return the item within a period of 14 calendar days from receipt, without giving any explanation for it and provided that it is carried out with the original packaging. And the seller has the obligation to return the price ”, he explains. Almudena Velázquez, legal director of Reclamador.es, the online legal services company.
Return of items
When the withdrawal period has expired, the consumer has the right to "return the purchase only in the event of a factory defect," says the Claimant's attorney. Thus, the change for other reasons, for example, if it is a large size or a garment that once worn does not convince, “it is a commercial courtesy, that is, the physical establishment is not obliged to accept changes or returns ”.
However, if during the rest of the year the store, as a courtesy, announced a return policy and modifies it on sales, "you must advertise it clearly or, otherwise, you must keep it on discounted products."
Defective and discounted products
In addition, products with a lower price due to a defect or tare, for example, in the case of a shirt that lacks a button, are not synonymous with discounted items, explains the lawyer Rosana Pérez Gurrea, member of the consumer subcommittee of the General Council of Spanish Lawyers. That is why "defective items cannot be put on sale as if they were normal products." And if the establishment does so, "the consumer has the right to complain."
In addition, the professor of law at the Open University of Catalonia explains that on the labeling of the discounted items, the price they had before the promotion and the new one must appear so that the consumer "sees the difference."
Card payments and claims
On the other hand, "establishments must inform consumers if they accept card payments or if they impose minimum amounts," explains the lawyer Elena Zapata. And it "because the payment conditions are established by the employer ”and not by the customer.
What they cannot deny the consumer is the ticket or the invoice. "It is mandatory that they issue it because it is the justification of the purchase and there come the conditions of the contract."
In addition, in the event of any conflict, "the consumer can request the complaint form" if it is a physical trade, which is obliged to issue it. With it you can go “to the municipal consumer office, which processes the mediation between the establishment and the consumer. If the business does not accept it, the user can go to court or consumer arbitration, which will be mandatory for the employer if he is subject to it ”.
In the case of electronic commerce, the procedure is similar. “You will not physically have the claim form, but you can request it. If they don't listen to you, you can go to the municipal consumer office to process the claim, ”says the lawyer. In addition, "web pages are required to be subject to an alternative dispute resolution system" for online purchases.