Buying In A Store? Know Your Consumer Rights!
Consumers often won’t ask for an exchange or refund due to a lack of knowledge about their consumer rights when buying in stores in Spain. Read our guide and find out what you can request when you have a problem with store-purchased goods.
Can I Return Anything To A Store?
Basically no. If you think you might change your mind about what you’re going to purchase, check the store’s policy first. Stores are not legally required to accept returned goods just because you’ve changed your mind or decided you don’t like them. However most chain stores in Spain do have a “no-quibble” returns period of around 7-15 days.
If you´re not 100% convinced about what you’re buying, or are impulsive and often regret your purchases, you’re probably better off buying online. By law you have 14 days to return items without having to give a reason for the return.
Remember that some items can never be returned (unless they’re faulty) such as personalised and bespoke goods, underwear, items used for personal hygiene, or DVD’s / Blu-rays / video games if already opened.
What Are My Rights?
Goods sold must be fit for use and as described; for example a washing machine is expected to last a number of years, not months, or waterproof footwear shouldn’t leave your toes wet!
All goods sold fit for use have a two-year guarantee, and in the first six months any fault found will be deemed as already existing when they were purchased. In other words, if you need to return anything in the first 6 months then it’s going to be a lot easier. Afterwards it’s up to you to prove the goods were faulty when purchased, this often takes time, money, and, depending on the goods, may not be worthwhile.
When you have to return items, then you have the following options about what action to take:
OPTION 1: REPAIR OR EXCHANGE OF THE PRODUCT
This is the most usual solution: faulty goods are normally exchanged, or in some cases repaired. The consumer cannot be charged for delivery costs, labour or materials. Any repair must be carried out in a reasonable timeframe.
During the time of repair the 2-year guarantee period is suspended from the date the consumer deposits the goods with the vendor until the date they’re returned.
Watch out if you’re offered a credit note. This reduces your rights by forcing you to use the credit note in that store; if your size/colour/etc isn’t in stock, insist on a refund (see Option 3).
OPTION 2: PARTIAL REFUND
In some cases you may be willing to keep the goods and accept a partial refund. The amount refunded must be proportional to the original price and what you would have paid if the fault had been pointed out when purchased.
OPTION 3: FULL REFUND
You can exercise this option when the vendor cannot substitute the goods. A refund will be made by the same payment means, so if you paid by credit card then you’ll get a credit on your monthly card statement.
What If The Company Refuses To Substitute/Repair/Give a Refund?
In this case request the official claims form “Hoja de Reclamaciones” (see our guide at the link about how to use them).
Remember to not leave your original documents (invoice, receipt, guarantee) with the vendor.
New Consumer Legislation 2014
March 2014 saw the introduction of amendments to the Spanish Consumer Law, specifically regarding some aspects of online sales such as increasing from 7 to 14 days the period for returns if you’ve changed your mind.
However, the new legislation still does nothing regarding imposing important economic sanctions on companies that continue to ignore consumer rights. Even when a company is sanctioned, a consumer still needs to go to court if they want to receive compensation for damages – thus leaving companies in a position of power.
Related Post: Buying Online in Spain – Tips & Tricks