I bought a bike component from a German online retailer, which had a defect. I returned the item to the retailer under warranty, from where it was returned to the manufacturer and scrapped as unrepairable.

The component is no longer in stock at the retailer, so they are giving me a refund instead. It's unclear whether it will ever be in stock again, but the insinuation is that it won't. The price of this component has since gone up considerably at other retailers. I bought the item (discounted) at €190, and the cheapest I can now find it is €260. The recommended retail price has also jumped substantially.

Under German consumer law, can I ask them to cover the cost of buying the item elsewhere, since they are unable to replace it?

2 Answers 2


You are not entitled to a larger refund than you paid for under the law of .

Your contract was for Part A at the Price of X. They have to either fix it or get you back price X. They can't get you part A, so they refund you X.

§437 BGB stipulates your right to have either the item fixed or replaced ("Nacherfüllung/Nachbesserung" according to §439 BGB). In the alternative, the price for the defective part could be reduced. Alternatively, you can have the contract voided in its entirety (return of parts and money to original owners in exactly the same amounts). Atop that comes the possibility to have fees (e.g. postage or inspection fees) and other "Schadensersatz" repaid that the customer incurred. §438 BGB specifies the timing requirements.

Do note, that Nacherfüllung under §439 BGB (4) is limited: If the costs and fees would be too high, the seller can deny it. So if you were promised to have a working car engine for 1€ and it doesn't work, you can not force them to buy you a new one for thousands. So, Nacherfüllung can force a vendor to swallow some losses, but not infinitely so.

If since your purchase the price for part A has risen, you are not entitled to be repaid the new price - just like they can't just refund you less because the price for the part crashed. If you insist on having the part fixed or replaced, it is the seller's obligation to attempt to do so, but if they are not able to do so (e.g. the part is no longer made and no stock available), the only economically viable option is to annul the contract.

  • This looks plausible, but can you cite the specific law that provides this, or caselaw to this effect? Aug 25, 2022 at 12:49
  • Does the consumer have any choice which resolution is taken? If so, is there a reason that the consumer can't demand that the vendor obtain a replacement part at retail price from another vendor? (I'll admit, I can't imagine this happening, but I'm interested to know why this wouldn't work.) Aug 25, 2022 at 12:52
  • 2
    @DavidSiegel 437 BGB - you can get the contract annulled, or have the part fixed/replaced. Technically it is the buyer's choice, but if the seller says "I can't do this, I don't get the part" voiding the contract becomes the only viable option.
    – Trish
    Aug 25, 2022 at 13:04
  • @WillVousden technically it is consumer choice under 439BGB, but there is a limit to how much the vendor has to endure in costs and when they can deny Nachbesserung as uneconomic. Where the line is exactly is hard to determine.
    – Trish
    Aug 25, 2022 at 13:20

For the breach of a consumer guarantee, the business must repair a minor defect, or replace or refund for a major defect at the consumer’s discretion.

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