Warranty, guaranty not the same

Two-year warranty: Set by law in Germany allowing customers to return a defective product. The seller is obligated to either repair or replace the product.

Garantie. Guaranty. The promise, security that something is correct, right, works; a promise by the maker of a product that it functions as advertized; a contractual promise.

Worst Case Scenario. An English phrase used in Germany. The German consumer expects a product to always work as advertised, last long, meet fully their expectations.

German consumers often confuse warranty and guaranty, believing that they can return the product for repair or replacement during the two-year period regardless of the cause of the defect. The law, however, requires the maker/seller of the product to repair or replace a product based only on defects at the time of purchase. Misuse of the product or normal wear and tear are not covered.

If for example a television does not work perfectly after a year, the German consumer typically will return it to the store and demand repair, replacement or their money back. The retailer, however, is permitted to repair the product as often as he chooses without obligation to return the purchase price. Nor is the retailer obligated to supply a replacement product during the time of repair.

The mere returning of a product angers the German consumer. They expect near 100% reliability. Good customer service – friendly, fast, uncomplicated – can help things, but is seldom seen by the German consumer as an excuse for a technical defect. If the problems reoccur, the German consumer will quickly switch to a competitive product. Good technical service is best when it‘s not needed.