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Explainer: How does France’s two-year guarantee on all products work?

We explain the garantie légale de conformité, which offers protection to consumers who have bought faulty or misleading products

All new products sold in France are guaranteed for two years Pic: Reshetnikov_art / Shutterstock

All products sold in France - including digital subscriptions - are guaranteed by a protection called the garantie légale de conformité.

This guarantee is two years for all new products and, since January this year, one year for all second-hand products. This guarantee must be mentioned on all shop receipts.

It means that if, for example, you buy a new iPad but discover on delivery that it has a fault, is the wrong colour or does not match the general description provided by the seller, you can return it to the shop and you are fully covered. 

The guarantee also applies to products whose packaging or instructions are damaged or any other issues that mean the product does not work as you expected it to. 

In also applies to digital services, for example a subscription to a digital platform, purchase of an online video game, rental of an online film, etc. 

This guarantee does not cover private sales between individuals. It does, though, apply to all products bought within the European Union. 

This is not the same as a commercial guarantee that a shop may offer. To continue the iPad example, the seller at the shop at which you buy it may offer you to buy a guarantee provided by the shop. 

Be careful to assess whether you actually need this. Obviously if it only covers the product you are buying for two years under the same conditions as the garantie légale de conformité, you most probably do not. 

How does the garantie légale de conformité work?

The responsibility falls to the seller so if you have a problem then you should notify the shop where you bought the item. You can either go in-person and present the receipt or you can write a letter outlining the issue(s). 

The shop can contest your judgement if they think that you yourself damaged the product. If they do, you can ask for help from a consumer association such as UFC-Que Choisir or 60 Millions de Consommateurs

The final recourse is to take legal action, which is free when it comes to items bought for under €5,000.  

Six-month extension after repairs

As part of the garantie légale de conformité, if you have to get a product repaired within the first two years of buying it you get an extra six months added to your guarantee. 

For example, you buy an iPad but it breaks after a year so you take it back to be repaired. The garantie légale de conformité on the iPad will then last for another 18 months, instead of 12. 

If the product cannot be repaired and the shop offers you a replacement, then that product comes with a new garantie légale de conformité that will last for a further two years. 

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