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Old 21.11.2005, 15:59
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Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hi,

I just bought an expensive flat screen telly that's developed a fault, 5 days after getting it :-(

I'm about to contact the retailer, but before I do so I'd like to know where I stand legally. In the UK, the Sale of Goods Act would protect me. Judging from the appalling level of service that I see in Swiss businesses, I'm guessing that there isn't something similar here.


Certainly, the only shop I've had good service from regarding problems is Media Markt. All others have quibbled over even low cost goods with problems. Given that the LCD screen cost me over 2 grand I can see all sorts of dodging of responsibility going on.

Actually, by the time anyone replies to this I'll have already contacted them, but I'd still like to know where I stand.


Gav
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Old 22.11.2005, 13:03
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

a) did you pay via credit card?
b) which store was it from?
d) what make is the item?
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Old 25.11.2005, 10:46
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
a) did you pay via credit card?
b) which store was it from?
d) what make is the item?
I paid via cash, unfortunately. Most places here don't take credit cards, weird that a country which is based so heavily on the financial industry is so backward in using common forms of payment.

I don't want to say the store just yet, until things are clearer. I have finally spoken with them and they are going to collect it as DOA and look at it to see if it's easily repairable. They are taking their time about this though.


The item was a Samsung LE32R51B LCD TV. A nice unit for the 4 evenings that it worked..... Saw lots of other similar problem reports on various internet forums, so it looks like they have quality control problems on their TVs.


Gav
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Old 29.11.2005, 16:18
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hi Gav,

I don't think that things are too bad in the area of consumer protection, but I've never seen any advertisements from a public body wishing to inform people of their rights and the services they can offer the public. I suspect that if such bodies do exist, they would be duplicated canton to canton, and therefore be so hideously inefficient that you can probably forget about them :-)

I agree with you about mediamarkt - they've never questioned me when I have a problem.

I would advise writing down as much as you can regarding any conversations that you've had, when and with whom etc. Try to get some of it via email as well (just in case there is a dispute).

Mark
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Old 02.12.2005, 14:02
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

The "return policy" in Switzerland can be considered above average.

I hope that they would replace it rather than a just a repair.

Good Luck.
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Old 08.12.2005, 14:27
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
The "return policy" in Switzerland can be considered above average.

I hope that they would replace it rather than a just a repair.

Good Luck.
After almost three weeks of asking them to get this sorted, I have received email instructions to send it to a repair outfit (at my own cost) along with the receipt and a warranty claim. I'm not a happy chappy.

From the sounds of things it amounts to "please make a claim on the manufacturers warranty" though I'll have to phone after lunch to confirm this. For a 'Dead on Arrival' product that's most certainly not satisfactory.

Given the nature of the problem and the nature of LCD sets, I would actually be prepared to accept a repair IF it was carried out in a timely manner. The thing is that these sets can often feature 'dead pixel' errors on the screen and the panel on this one is perfect. Looks like the fault lies in the image processing or analogue/digital part of the set. And it looks like a dry solder joint problem as if I turn up the heating in the room the set works OK after ten minutes or so. It could actually be a simple repair.

Unfortunately, I could see this repair lot taking ages to do it (hey, the shop took three weeks to tell me to call them). Also, if they are just working as warranty repair agents there will be no way to apply pressure. I have had a bad experience years ago when I first came to Switzerland, when a brand new DVD player was sent to a third party workshop to be made multi-region ... I had to wait TWO MONTHS for them to fit the chip and the shop whom I had made the purchase off showed no interest in doing anything to expedite matters since they already had my money.

I have no intention of allowing such a situation to develop again. If necessary I'll buy a new set somewhere else and take the shop to court. But before I start spending money on lawyers, I'd appreciate having an idea about the general consumer law (to apply pressure to the shop) so if anyone knows.....?


Gav
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Old 08.12.2005, 15:27
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hi Gav,

I don't confess to be an expert on these things, and it looks like now you need some advice on exactly what the law says. Unfortunately I don't know where you can go for this information - but hopefully someone else does?

My gut instinct tells me that since it failed with 5 days, it should be classified by the manufacturer as DOA (dead on arrival), and it should therefore not be your responsibility.

My advice would be firm but polite with the company you bought it from. Maybe it is time for you to name them? Alternatively if that doesn't work then speak directly to their distributor. Simply insist that this is a DOA, and you will not bear any responsibility for it. Insist on a refund, and if they won't give it, then insist on a replacement set.

Once you allow them to repair it you basically accept the fact that you have been lumbered with the problem. It sounds as if they are trying to avoid you completely by sending you directly to the distributor / manufacturer.

Also check their AGB (conditions of sale) is there any provision in here?

I think they (and the distributor) may be trying it on, and seeing if they can get away with them. If you get a little tough on them they might think twice.

I would not recommend buying another one somewhere else and then trying to sue the original shop. The best you can hope for in this case is being stuck with two TVs!

I guess these days we are so focused on getting things cheaply that we forget about the fact that after sales service is important too. Media Markt generally aren't as cheap as the internet only places, but at least their return policies are good, and after-sales service is good. Ok, so the people that work there are often complete monkeys, but you don't need any pre-sales service from them anyway.

Mark
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Old 09.12.2005, 17:29
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
Hi Gav,

..

My gut instinct tells me that since it failed with 5 days, it should be classified by the manufacturer as DOA (dead on arrival), and it should therefore not be your responsibility.

My advice would be firm but polite with the company you bought it from. Maybe it is time for you to name them? Alternatively if that doesn't work then speak directly to their distributor. Simply insist that this is a DOA, and you will not bear any responsibility for it. Insist on a refund, and if they won't give it, then insist on a replacement set.

Once you allow them to repair it you basically accept the fact that you have been lumbered with the problem. It sounds as if they are trying to avoid you completely by sending you directly to the distributor / manufacturer.

..

I guess these days we are so focused on getting things cheaply that we forget about the fact that after sales service is important too. Media Markt generally aren't as cheap as the internet only places, but at least their return policies are good, and after-sales service is good. Ok, so the people that work there are often complete monkeys, but you don't need any pre-sales service from them anyway.

Mark
After more discussion, they've now promised to talk to their distributor about a replacement... something that would be standard in the UK.

Personally, if it can be repaired effectively I'd actually be prepared to accept that. The LCD panel itself is good, and the fault looks like a dry joint in the part of the set dealing with digitising and processing the video input signal (when the set 'warms up' after 10 mins or so, the solarisation defect goes away).

It could be quickly and easily repairable and I'd take that over getting a new set with maybe an inferior LCD panel. Try getting a refund anywhere for a dead pixel - it isn't easy. What I don't want is for the set to be shunted off to a third party who are under no pressure at all to do a speedy and effective repair. In Switzerland, this means loooooong waits and maybe a rubbish job at the end.



In this case, Media Markt were 700CHF more expensive for the same item and I wasn't prepared to pay that premium. In general though, I do like to purchase from them as they actually seem to be consumer friendly. I guess this is because they originate outside of Switzerland - goodness knows how they were allowed in to challenge the cherished tradition of treating the consumer like a burden.


Gav
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Old 13.12.2005, 12:50
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hello,

Maybe this comes as a surprise but the legal position in Switzerland with respect to consumer protection and consumer rights is quite advanced and does protect the consumer quite well. An example here is that every purchase unless from a private person and explicitly stated to that effect has an automatic 14 day right of return if the goods are unused and with the sales receipt. As in many countries this does not mean money back and quite often means voucher back

With respect to defective LCD panels there are basic rules as to when the panel is defective but these are rather complex to understand and not simply "more than 5 dead pixels and you have a dud". If a problem can be demonstrated the manufacturer has the responsibility to replace or repair and not the supplier - though this also depends on the status of the supplier. If the supplier is an official representative of the manufacturer then they act as the agent of the supplier and thus have responsibility. This is written into their contracts with the supplier. If they try to fob you off with a "contact the manufacturer" statement and refuse to help they are assuming that you will act like many people and accept the small fault as "normal". If you then threaten them with sending it back to the manufacturer with a letter of complaint regarding their lack of service or interest in representing the good name of the brand then they will almost always change their tone- ie take you seriously.

The above may sound a problem of Swiss lack of service but it is actually to be found worldwide even in countries with perceived good service models. When the margins shrink something has to give and this is usually the interest in "wasting" time servicing "an already parted with their money customer". Bigger problems exist with internet shops where the legal basis for the transaction is not always clear and even worse on internet auction sites where generally there is very little consumer protection - unless you pay with credit card...

The credit card sales point is also quite interesting. Generally, and this may seem strange, the lower the crime rate the less interest in taking credit cards. Credit card companies typically charge 4% on transactions. This is a substantial amount of money when the margin on goods sold may only be 20%. The cost of dealing with cash in Switzerland (dirty, hot, dubious or otherwise ) is very low and this causes the lack of interest in accepting ccs. Conversely as an example in England the cost of credit card transactions is up to 2.5% and the cost of dealing with cash is similar - so do you choose low/no risk or deal with cash?! Incidentally the most confusing sales in this area are in tobacco where the margin is typically 5% and sometimes you can pay with credit card - is it worth it?!

For the interest of all here are the links for consumer protection unfortunately most are not in English

http://www.konsum.admin.ch/index.html?lang=en

http://www.konsumentenschutz.ch/
Regards

Richard
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Old 13.12.2005, 18:06
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hi Gav,

It looks like Richard just said what I was about to say (good post Richard). I tend to agree with Richard on those points, namely:

Dead pixels are a manufacturer issue, and nothing to do with this (I know that you just mentioned this as a side point and weren't complaining about it as a Swiss or consumer rights issue).

Also, I also find that the level of consumer protection, as far as the law goes, is generally quite high. You know I'm the first one to complain about things, but I think we should avoid drawing conclusions along the lines of "standard in the UK", or excessive Swiss-bashing on this thread (after all that's what the complaints corner is for, and we aren't in it!). I personally have experienced many episodes of shocking service in the UK, and let's not forget that consumer protection in the UK isn't exactly an ancient tradition!

As you found out for yourself and as Richard also pointed out - you do have rights, the shop/manufacturer was just trying it on. This could have happened anywhere in any country.

Bad service and rude staff is another matter, and happens more often in some countries than in others, but this thread was about consumer rights in Switzerland

The links Richard provided were good, but confirmed my fears. The federal government has some staff that deal with consumer rights, but they don't seem to interface with the public directly, choosing instead to support consumer organisations with financial contributions. The problem with such a fragmented approach is that the public may not get the support or information they need - and may have to resort to going to a lawyer. The second of Richard's links was a link to such an organisation, that provides information only to people who donate to the organisation, and only then 2 days per week. The general public has to pay CHF2/ minute for advice. I couldn't even see a link to a french or italian version of their site.

It's a shame we can't see the approach used in other countries where the government sets up an organisation who has the responsibility to interface with the public, as well as to police and enforce the law in a way that
helps to keep everyone honest. Having a law is one thing, but informing the average person on the street about how it is used, and how they are protected is quite another...

How's the TV coming along?

Mark
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Old 13.12.2005, 19:56
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
The credit card sales point is also quite interesting. Generally, and this may seem strange, the lower the crime rate the less interest in taking credit cards. Credit card companies typically charge 4% on transactions. This is a substantial amount of money when the margin on goods sold may only be 20%. The cost of dealing with cash in Switzerland (dirty, hot, dubious or otherwise ) is very low and this causes the lack of interest in accepting ccs. Conversely as an example in England the cost of credit card transactions is up to 2.5% and the cost of dealing with cash is similar - so do you choose low/no risk or deal with cash?! Incidentally the most confusing sales in this area are in tobacco where the margin is typically 5% and sometimes you can pay with credit card - is it worth it?!
Hi Richard,

Just wanted to say that I found the above very interesting. I'm often frustrated by the lack of credit card acceptance, but never thought about it in terms of cash handling charges. I always wondered why Swiss businesses are so hostile to the charges involved with credit cards, when it also saves them the bother and the cost of dealing with cash. I also found that in Japan a lot of places didn't take credit cards (at least not foreign ones) and I did find that puzzeling given that everything else was at such a high level of technology and service. But for the Japanese the crime rate must also be low, and cash seems to be king there (except that cash machines myseriously close down at 7pm making life very difficult if you aren't expecting this!). When I was in South Africa credit cards were accepted everywhere, but the cost of cash was high. If you deposit or withdraw cash into the bank they charge you 1% on the way out, and 1% on the way in. Of course you can imagine what happens - businesses keep all their cash and then use it to pay their suppliers - trying to keep it out of the banking system.

Still - I know this is what happens - but shouldn't it be the wishes of consumers that determine what payment methods will be accepted? I guess not...

Mark
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Old 15.12.2005, 18:16
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
Hi Gav,

How's the TV coming along?

Mark
Well, I finally managed to make email contact (their telephone line cuts out when I select the appropriate option on the automatic system).

Incredibly, they confirmed that they expect me to send it back to the manufacturer and claim for a warranty repair. This on a 2000SFr device that failed within 10 hours of using it. It also took them three weeks to give me a response to my notification of the fault in the first place. Bloody incredible.

I'm wondering if it's worth pursuing legal action against them. On the one hand, such 'serivce' deserves to be punished. On the other, I have no idea what the law actually is and I know for sure that it will cost me a fortune in legal fees which I probably won't be able to recover even if I win a refund.

Of course, as always in this country, the 'easy' thing to do is just knuckle down, accept the crap and prepare to wait for it to be fixed. Yet another reason on the growing heap of them, to get my ass out of this place and into a country that isn't mired in the early 80s I think.


Gav
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Old 15.12.2005, 18:23
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hi Gav,

Is this the distributor or the shop you are talking about? Did you tell them that you refuse to accept such rubbish, and that by law they must replace it?

By the way - if you do win against them they will have to pay your legal fees. Also back to the original question - did you pay by credit card - ok, don't answer that one I know what the answer is :-)

You didn't write in your post how you responded to the information. Your other option is to call the hotline mentioned in one of Richard's links. It will cost you CHF2 per minute, but it might be worth it?

And if you leave the country, you'll never get your TV :-)

Mark
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Old 15.12.2005, 19:28
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:
Hi Gav,

Is this the distributor or the shop you are talking about? Did you tell them that you refuse to accept such rubbish, and that by law they must replace it?

By the way - if you do win against them they will have to pay your legal fees. Also back to the original question - did you pay by credit card - ok, don't answer that one I know what the answer is :-)

You didn't write in your post how you responded to the information. Your other option is to call the hotline mentioned in one of Richard's links. It will cost you CHF2 per minute, but it might be worth it?

And if you leave the country, you'll never get your TV :-)

Mark
But is it by law? The only law that I've heard mentioned is a right of return within 14 days so long as the goods are unopened. That clearly isn't the case.

If anyone knows a decent lawyer that I can make a quick consultation with, without spending a fortune, please let me know.


Gav
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Old 15.12.2005, 23:22
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Kassensturz is one of the shows I enjoy watching regularily (though it's not always good)

I don't know if you speak german, but this is what they have on their website regarding an answer a lawyer gave regarding returning items that have a guarantee. I assume your monitor must have had a guarantee of some sort?
Anyways, the way they say it (and I remember watching the show) you can bring the item back and insist of getting your money, even if they tell you it has to be repaired or they'll give you another one, you can insist of getting the money.
As this text says, there are clauses they can put in the guarantee which voids this, but as is common with lots of items you buy: you don't get the guarantee paper until after you've paid for it. And as the lawyer said, you can say this doesn't count.
Now, I don't know who you have to fight with ... but you can always tell them you saw it on Kassensturz

Garantieansprüche: Konsumenten wehren sich

Weil Verkaufsgeschäfte Garantieansprüche oft nicht erfüllen wollen, laufen jetzt Konsumentinnen und Konsumenten Sturm.

Ist eine gekaufte Ware qualitativ nicht in Ordnung, kann sie der Kunde zurück ins Geschäft bringen und entweder eine Minderung des Kaufpreises verlangen, das Ding gegen Rückerstattung des Kaufpreises zurückgeben oder ein neues, einwandfreies Gerät fordern. Und dies während der ganzen Dauer der Garantiezeit. So steht es im Obligationenrecht. Doch in der Praxis ziehen Konsumentinnen und Konsumenten oft den Kürzeren. Denn: Die Anbieter können in die Garantiebestimmungen Klauseln aufnehmen, die die Ansprüche der Kunden schmälern.

Steht in den Garantiebestimmungen zum Beispiel "Bei Mängeln haben Sie Anspruch auf eine kostenlose Reparatur. Das Recht auf Wandelung oder Minderung ist ausgeschlossen", müssen sich Konsumentinnen und Konsumenten mit einer Reparatur begnügen und können weder Umtausch, Preisminderung noch Rückgabe des Geldes verlangen. Aber nur dann, wenn sie von diesen Bestimmungen vor dem Kauf Kenntnis nehmen können. Steht zum Beispiel erst auf dem Kassenzettel, dass im Garantiefall das Gerät repariert wird, ist der Kauf bereits getätigt, ohne das der Käufer von der Garantieregelung des Anbieters wusste. "Das heisst: Der Käufer kann sich auf seine gesetzlichen Garantierechte berufen und jene des Verkäufers ablehnen, wenn er sie nicht will", erläuterte Rechtsexpertin Doris Slongo im Studio. Mit Garantiescheinen, die in der Verpackung mitgeliefert werden verhält es sich gleich: Wir der Käufer nicht schon im Moment des Kaufes auf die Garantiebestimmungen des Anbieters hingewiesen, hat er die gesetzlichen Garantierechte von einem Jahr. Es bleibt ihm belassen, ob er sich auf den Vorschlag des Garantiescheines einlassen will.

Übrigens: Die Migros hat neu intern folgende Anweisunggegeben: "Akzeptiert der Kunde aber keine kostenlose Garantiereparatur und besteht ausdrücklich auf einem ksotenlosen Ersatz, muss der Artikel ersetzt oder zurückerstattet werden."

(Kassensturz vom 25.1.2005)
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Old 15.12.2005, 23:33
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Hey Gav, looks like you are in luck. As long as they didn't tell you this before the purchase you can insist on a new TV *anytime* during the guarantee if there is a problem. I'm sure you'll agree in this case that Swiss consumer protection is in fact very much adequate, and goes far beyond that found in other countries. The only trick is the enforcing of it.

I suggest that you print out that text, and pay them a little visit, and tell them that if they don't produce another TV for them that you'll stick them immediately with lawyers, and the costs for those lawyers.

Destiny, maybe you could post the original URL to that article - maybe it will mention the relevant sections in the law?

Mark
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Old 15.12.2005, 23:44
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Not much of a link.. but thanks to Marks request for me to go back to get it, I saw there are 3 articles related to this, one with some external links which lead you to some legal babble

http://www2.sfdrs.ch/system/frames/h...turz/index.php

to get to the articles: click on the link "Die letzten 5" beneath the header KLARTEXT on the left.
then click weitere >>> link, here you'll find 3 articles with "garantie" in the title
The 11.01.05 one has the links.
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Old 16.12.2005, 00:09
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Here we go, Article 205 and 206

http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/220/index2.html#id-2-6-2
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Old 16.12.2005, 12:48
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

I know that Mark likes to bring in the legal team as soon as he thinks he has a case but you might well find threatening to contact Kassensturz a more effective weapon. If the law is on your side and the seller is high enough profile then they will generally not take the risk of bad publicity. Just one warning though. If you do take the Kassensturz route then you are bound to follow their methods... ie interview etc - they will of course cover all legal fees which might be a godsend...

To the Mark method of calling in the legal team today... Mark is absolutely correct that if you win the case you will recover your legal costs. However, if they at some part along the process back down and the process can be long then you are left with your part of the legal costs and have to sue to get them back.

The legal process in Switzerland is also open to appeal to a higher instance all the way to the "Swiss supreme court" This is good on one side and total bollocks on the other. I have a friend who sued and won but the other side appealed. He lost the second case but with a flawed (opinion of his lawyer) basis for decision and he was left with a very difficult decision. Do I accept my current legal costs plus that of my opponent ca CHF 5K or do I take it to the next court where the costs are likely to be double - you also have to show proof of worth by the way ie that you can pay the cost of taking it further... What I am trying to say is it can become poker...

What is probably the best route is to have a legal letter drafted as a threat demanding a refund according to the relevant paragraphs and the threat of Kassensturz if the company is high profile enough.

There is one other route you can take and that is to Betreiben them. This is a process where anybody can demand money from anyone and ultimately get it. You would need to find out how to do from your Gemeinde as it is run at a Gemeinde level.

Richard
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Old 16.12.2005, 17:59
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Re: Consumer rights in Switzerland

Quote:

To the Mark method of calling in the legal team today... Mark is absolutely correct that if you win the case you will recover your legal costs. However, if they at some part along the process back down and the process can be long then you are left with your part of the legal costs and have to sue to get them back.
Hi Richard,

yes - this was the scenario that I was dreading. Spending hundreds on a lawyer to have them capitulate at the last moment, leaving me out of pocket. It's really a low-risk proposition for them to keep stonewalling until they can do so no more.

What I have done is to contact the company again, using the links provided by the posters here, and point out my rights.

(Thanks go out to to Destiny and Mark for the URLs)

I've told them that I won't accept sending the device to the manufacturer for a warranty repair.

What I will accept is:
(a) Cash refund
(b) New, replacement set
(c) Repair supervised by their company with a replacement set/cash back if the repair is not done to my satisfaction within two weeks.


I think I'm being more than fair here, let's see what they come back with.

If they still insist that this is still not their problem, I'm inclined to go the legal route anyway. Since their current 'offer' is that I just apply for a warranty repair myself, I have nothing to lose in terms of getting the set fixed as I can make a warranty claim any time I like.


Gav
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