Guarantees and what to expect

You’ve fallen in love with a comfortable sofa or a set of stylish dining chairs and you’re ready to make a purchase. But wait! Have you checked the warranty? A good warranty can mean the difference between buying with confidence… and taking your chances. We’ve come a long way from the old days of “let the buyer beware!” when it comes to buying products in the marketplace. Today, rules and regulations are in place to give consumers fair and reasonable protection for their hard-earned purchases. Plus, quality manufacturers know it’s wise to keep customers happy… long after they’ve left the store and taken their new furniture home. That’s why good products are covered by a good warranty.

What guarantees or warranties are available in Malta?

Most jurisdictions provide consumers with statutory guarantees (warranties) when purchasing furniture and bedding. In Malta, the period is 2 years from the date of delivery and installation, once the products can be inspected for damage or wrongful installation. In addition, a consumer can also claim during this 2-year window if the goods are not fit for purpose or are defective in function or finish. This warranty is imposed by law on the seller in favour of the buyer.

Does the length of the guarantee make a difference on how much the product costs?

Irrelevant of how much you spend on a product, the statutory protection is the same in terms of basis and duration. However, in reality, budget products will most likely give rise to the majority of claims under the law, in view of the reality that what is cheap cannot be expected to be as good as products in higher categories. This means that once the 2 year period elapses, the consumer has no legal rights and will have to pay for any repair or replacement required to continue using the product. We have all heard the saying “you get what you pay for”, therefore, if you buy cheap you ought to know that your expectations in the medium and long term have to be lowered from the day you decide to buy.

However, as the 2 year period also applies to categories where expenditure is higher, manufacturers and some sellers have been providing additional comfort to the buyer. This includes offering longer-lasting albeit limited guarantees. The basis of this type of guarantee is contractual and adds to the statutory guarantees particularly concerning extended time frames for listed claims. Manufacturers of quality products are aware that providing such warranties benefits them marketing-wise by way of instilling confidence and additional comfort in the consumer at decision time. These so-called commercial warranties are generally limited regarding which claims will be entertained and are nowhere like blanket guarantees. They are beneficial as they do provide rights which are are not available under the law.

What makes up a good guarantee in reality?

Before purchasing a product, it is always advisable not only to learn as much as possible about the product from the supplier and other sources but also to look closely at what exactly is covered by the manufacturers’ guarantee.

Often, long term guarantees are nothing more than captive measures and rarely capable of successful enforcement listing limitations that render rights unenforceable. Just tune in on YouTube on the subject and watch how claims are so often brushed off under long term guarantees. So, for example, if you have a 20-year guarantee on a mattress, it would invariably exclude a slump as that would be considered as a natural expected consequence and not a defect. Or likewise, in the case of a broken spring, it is not valid for a replacement or to get fixed unless you prove that there was a defect in the manufacture of the spring. You would need to ask yourself exactly what would you be able to bring as proof to make a successful claim on something that happens within these 20 years?

In conclusion, a commercial guarantee will tell you more about the company you are purchasing from. A company that sells quality products generally maintains good customer relations and after-sales service and has an interest in protecting its reputation. It will not find every excuse under the sun to avoid fixing or replacing a damaged product that is inherently faulty or below objective expectations. Therefore, be sure to check everything and not just the price when making your next purchase.

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