Consumer’s guide – outlet products

In today’s world, consumers are increasingly preferring online shopping over traditional visits to brick-and-mortar stores. This is due to the fact that online shopping is faster, often cheaper, and frequently the seller covers the shipping costs, which further attracts customers. Among a wide range of shopping options, used products or outlet items are gaining popularity, offering bargains due to being end-of-line, clearance, store closing, or display items. For example, a coffee machine with a price reduction due to a missing lid, or a smartwatch with a lowered price tag because it doesn’t come with a pendant, are just some examples that indicate the popularity of the used products market. More and more inquiries directed to the consumer spokesperson office concern the possibility of filing complaints about products from displays, end-of-line items, clearance sales, or discounts. Consumers often ask if such products can be returned, what the seller’s responsibility is, and whether they come with a warranty. While browsing product offers online, one can notice that the price of some of them is lower, and the seller may inform that the “product is functional, has slight signs of use, the item may have been unpacked and tested by the customer or store employee, and the factory packaging may be damaged.” In this matter, consumers ask many questions – for example, Mr. Krzysztof wanted to know if purchases from clearance sales automatically void the warranty. Ms. Iza inquired about the difference in her rights to claim warranty between purchasing a display item and a brand new product. Mr. Stefan was interested in whether any defects or deficiencies in a display item can be a basis for a return if they were not indicated in the description. Additionally, Mr. Łukasz asked if the consumer’s right to a 14-day return also applies to outlet products with clearly specified defects and discounted prices. It’s time to answer the consumers’ questions, starting with Mr. Krzysztof’s question. It’s worth clarifying that a warranty is a voluntary declaration concerning the quality of the goods made by the entrepreneur or guarantor, or manufacturer. The warranty protection period depends on the guarantor’s will. If it is not specified, it is assumed to be 2 years starting from the day the goods were provided to the consumer. In response to Ms. Iza’s question about the difference in product claims rights between purchasing a display item and a brand new one – I explain that the seller cannot in any way refuse to accept a complaint. When buying items on clearance sales, displays, or promotions, you have the same rights as when buying at the regular price. Regarding Mr. Stefan’s question about display items – I explain that visible defects, which the buyer was aware of, are not covered by the warranty. This means that if a display item has visible scratches or marks, and the seller informs about them, the warranty for such defect doesn’t apply. As for Mr. Łukasz’s question regarding the right to withdraw from a contract for outlet products, discounted ones with clearly specified defects – I explain that the answer is affirmative and it’s a “yes.” Regardless of whether we buy a new or used product online, the consumer’s right to withdraw from a contract applies. Therefore, all discounted products, outlet items, or items with defects – even if those defects are explicitly described in the offer’s content – are also subject to returns within the 14-day period according to consumer’s right to withdraw. I would like to remind that the closed list of situations when the right to withdraw from a contract is excluded is indicated in Article 38 of the Consumer Rights Act. Outlet items are not mentioned there. Recently, I also received a case of a consumer who purchased a new product in July of this year in a physical store. It’s worth emphasizing that the seller did not provide any information that the product was being resold or had been unpacked before. After unpacking, it turned out that the product did not work, and there was also a complaint protocol from January inside the box. This suggested that the product had been purchased before and returned during the complaint process. The consumer’s statement was as follows: “I bought a TV antenna. After many attempts to set it up, it turned out that the antenna doesn’t receive a signal. Searching the box, I found a note confirming that this antenna is damaged. I also found a confirmation of accepting a complaint for the same reason – the antenna doesn’t catch a signal. I realized that I had purchased previously damaged equipment sold as new.” The consumer reacted immediately and filed a complaint. Unfortunately, the attempt to get a refund turned out to be ineffective as the store claimed that the product was working fine and did not even comment on the complaint protocol left in the box. Only the intervention of the consumer spokesperson made the seller change their mind and refund the customer’s money. In view of the various situations that can occur during purchases, it’s important to be aware of our rights as consumers. If we ever find ourselves uncertain about complaints, warranties, or the right to return a product, we can always seek free assistance from the District Consumer Ombudsman. Miłosz Niedźwiecki District Consumer Ombudsman