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A product (computer) was purchased in a EU country, from a EU retailer, by a EU citizen, and paid for from a EU bank account, but is currently being used outside the EU (in Asia) because the owner is abroad. The product has now developed a significant fault.

It is now outside of the 1-year warranty offered by the manufacturer, but is well within the time frame for warranties against defects guidelines of the EU overall as well as of the specific EU country. If the owner were in the EU right now, the manufacturer, or at least the vendor, would be obliged to give a repair/replacement (based on experience of owners currently in the EU).

The question is, does the owner resident outside the EU temporarily, have any recourse under EU consumer protection law in this case? Can s/he make a claim under EU consumer law being resident outside the EU, or must he get back to the continent to have legal protection?

  • Is there any reason to believe the EU consumer protection law would not apply? If the customer arranged to return the product for repair/replacement in accordance with the law how would the obligated party even determine that it had been outside the EU? Do you mean to ask whether the consumer protection laws require service be performed outside the EU for the convenience of the consumer? – feetwet Aug 23 '15 at 14:26
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    @feetwet Good point. No there's no reason to believe EU consumer law would not apply. But it is a question of enforcing. In particular, it is not very practical (nor economical, since the obligor is not bound to pay for transport) to ship the product back to the EU. In this instance, the manufacturer does have significant presence in the current country of residence of the consumer. So I believe there should be no need to return the product, since the obligor already has branches in the current location of the product and the consumer. It would be different if they didn't. – Yogesch Aug 23 '15 at 16:25
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    @Yogesch It is unlikely that they actually do have branches in Asia - you will find that XYZ (Asia) is a different company from XYZ (Europe) – Dale M Aug 24 '15 at 5:32
  • Ah, yes indeed. So XYZ (Asia) cannot be sued for a contract by XYZ (Europe). back to square one.. – Yogesch Aug 25 '15 at 18:13
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    @Yogesch: From everything I have read I don't think that there is any requirement where the user and product are, just where it was purchased. A common situation would be that you buy a product, take it with you on a holiday, and it breaks abroad. – gnasher729 Oct 15 '15 at 21:42
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You have the right to get the computer fixed by the original seller if it doesn't last for a reasonable amount of time. For that you would have to go to the original seller or return the computer to the original seller.

You may claim your rights for example in the UK for up to five or six years. Say this computer breaks after 18 months in Australia, you could gather proof in Australia that (a) it is broken and (b) it had a problem when you received it. Then you would have over three years time to take it back to the UK together with that evidence.

Altogether, this isn't very practical. For example, the seller can just refuse a repair (whether they have the right to do so or not), and then you would have to sue them from another country, which would be very difficult in practice.

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    That's the thing - it is very difficult to enforce this right. The seller made the silly claim that "Consumer law of X country does not apply in Y country" but there's no real mechanism to tackle it. I think in this age of international corporations, there should be better frameworks for this sort of thing. There's nothing preventing a company from deliberately selling their subpar goods in regions with poor legal protection, while leveraging their global reputation to charge high prices. – Yogesch Nov 11 '15 at 3:58

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