More information on spare parts

A new law is in force intended to help customers choose goods that will be repairable if they break down

2 March 2015

SUPPLIERS of domestic appliances and high-tech goods will now have to inform customers how long spare parts will be available for.

The legal change has come in as part of last year’s Hamon Law on consumer rights and means that you should be able to see at a glance if the item will be easily repairable if it should break down.

The idea is intended to encourage manufacturers to avoid ‘built-in obsolescence’ and it is hoped it will also be a boost to the repairs sector, with more items being repaired rather than just thrown away.

Environmental agency Ademe said in a report last year that 66% of items that break down are thrown away rather than repaired.

Only new products going on the market as of today are covered by the new decree. Products must show the period during which spares will be available, either on a label on the item or the shelf, so that customers have the information before they buy. This information should also be on the purchase receipt.

The manufacturer should then be able to supply to parts within two months, as long as the availability period has not run out.

Fines – of €3,000 for a sole trader or €15,000 for companies – may be levied if this is not possible.

However consumer bodies and green campaigners including Friends of the Earth, have expressed disappointment about a loophole that means that where no spare parts are available for a product, no mention has to be made of this.

Minister for Commerce Carole Delga has said the government did not want to make it obligatory to give “negative information” of this kind – ie. information about non-existence of spares, as opposed to information about existing spares and how long they are available.

However the Hamon Law measures should also be reinforced by ones in the “Energy transition” law that is currently being debated in the Senate. This provides for punishment for companies found to have deliberately made items with “built-in obsolensence”, which could include providing no spares.

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