The Council of Ministers has approved this Tuesday to extend the legal guarantee period for products by one year to three and increase the minimum time in which manufacturers must have spare parts once for up to 10 years (now there are five) a product is no longer manufactured, thus guaranteeing the consumer’s right to repair.
The right to repair
This legal reform, which according to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs “takes a further step in the circular economy strategy”, is included in a Royal Decree-omnibus law approved this Tuesday to adapt European directives on competition, telecommunications, banking, labor, taxes or fight against money laundering.
The decree also includes new rights and guarantees for consumers or users in national regulations, given the boom in online commerce during the health crisis.
The main novelties of the reform, which transposes two European directives, are to extend the terms of legal guarantees, regulate the lack of conformity in online commerce and increase the scope of application of the Consolidated Text of the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users (TRLGDCU). The standard includes for the first time the contracting of digital content and services that do not cost the consumer money but are obtained in exchange for their personal data.
To increase the durability of the products and “achieve more sustainable consumption patterns,” according to Alberto Garzón’s department, the reform incorporates the durability of a product as an objective criterion for the consumer to evaluate whether he is satisfied with the purchase. When a good does not have the durability agreed with the company through the purchase contract, the customer can choose between its repair or replacement. The legal guarantee period is extended up to three years for goods and up to two years for digital content or services.
The extension of the mandatory period of availability of spare parts to reinforce this “right to repair” up to the aforementioned ten years seeks to increase the durability of the goods in the fight against obsolescence and reduce the impact on the environment.
The reform of the Consumer Law includes contracts for the supply of digital content or services, as well as those in which the user does not pay a price but does provide their personal data in exchange for a service. Computer programs, applications, video files, audio files, music files, digital games, electronic books or other electronic publications will be considered content supplies.
Digital services will be all those that allow the creation, treatment, access or storage of data in digital format. This includes video and audio sharing software and other file hosting, word processing, or gaming software offered in the online environment, social media, online email, and instant messaging services. Free and open source programs are excluded from this regulation, in which the source code is shared openly and users can freely access the software.
“Simple and clear rules”
The reform “establishes simple and clear rules on the modalities and the moment of complying with the obligation to supply digital content or services by the employer.” The digital content or services will be considered to be available or accessible when they have reached the consumer and user environment and no other act of the entrepreneur is necessary for them to be able to use them in accordance with the contract.
Given that the digital content or services are provided in digital format, the supply should not require, in most situations, any additional time. In most cases, the obligation of the entrepreneur to supply digital content or services without undue delay will imply having to supply them immediately.
The new regulations also extend the statute of limitations to exercise consumer rights from three to five years when they are not satisfied. And it increases the investment period of the burden of proof to prove the lack of conformity. This goes from six months to one or two years, depending on the contractual object.
During this period, the consumer or user will only have to demonstrate that the good, the content or the digital service is not in accordance with the agreement, without the need to demonstrate its lack of conformity at the time of delivery, as has been the case up to now. To oppose the user’s claim, the employer will have to prove that the lack of conformity did not exist at that time.
With the reform, the updates, improvements or modifications stipulated in the contract that may occur in the digital content and services, as a result of their rapid evolution, may form part of the contractual commitment or be required to meet the objective requirements of compliance of the content digital services.
“However, other modifications that deviate from the objective requirements of conformity and that may be foreseen at the time of the conclusion of the contract, will have to be expressly accepted by the user at the time of purchase,” explains Consumo. Finally, to prevent consumers from being misled, the commercial guarantees included in the associated advertising will prevail over those in the legal guarantee statement if they are more beneficial to the consumer.