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When is a guarantee NOT a guarantee?


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I bought a mini air source heat pump (Airton) 9 months ago at Brico Depot and it is not working properly.

I .finally, after many days and many phone calls, got through to the Airton help-line to be told that I have to pay for someone to come and look at it , even though it is ( theoretically?) under guarantee. She told me there was no engineer on their books in my Dept (35) and she asked ME what other Depts. were near to me! so that she could give me a contact name.

Is this the norm in France that I have to pay for a call-out from someone who may live 100 miles away ?

Having taken stuff back to Brico- Depot in the past they have been less than helpful, saying that problems are their responsibility only for 30 days and after this time I have to contact the manufacturer if there are any problems.

Is this true in France ? ( unlike in U.K where guarantee problems are the concern of the retailer during the guarantee period ).

I have unplugged and re-plugged the machine and looked at the wiring.

The fan works when on the "fan" setting .

Believe it or not, I have just switched on the "heating " setting and it is working..... this happened once previously, a few days ago.

30+ times previously, over a 2 week period, I have switched it on and the set temp. has flashed but there has been no heating and, after a few minutes, the sign "FA" ( meaning "FAULT" ?) appeared on the "screen".

Any advice, either about the machine or as to who is responsible for fixing it and what my consumer rights are, would be very much appreciated

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A cynic might say that a guarantee is not a guarantee when the seller cen get away with it.

However to be serious, there seem to be loadsa bits of numpho on the web concerning your rights. Perhaps the best starting point is this one:


(sorry I cant make it live)

However, Bricodepot and their ilk are experts at not honouring guarantees and of passing it off to the supplier or manufacturer. All illegal I suspect.
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(As I understand it.  If anyone reading this knows better, please do not hesitate to make the necessary corrections).

Essentially, there are 2 guarantees that a professional seller is legally obliged to supply in France:

1) That the product is 'de conformité'.  This guarantee includes a 'fitness for purpose' undertaking.  It is also the guarantee that would most readily cover repeated break-downs, or instances of something repeatedly not working correctly.  It lasts for 2 years from the date of purchase.

2) That the product contains no 'vices cachés'.  As with the 'garantie de conformité', this guarantee covers faults which make the product "impropre à l’usage auquel on la destine, ou qui diminue tellement cet usage que l’acheteur ne l’aurait pas acquise".  It too could cover repeated beak-downs.  It lasts for 2 years.

After these, there is the 'garantie commerciale' (it's name when offered by a seller); or a 'garantie du fabriquant' when offered by the manufacturer.  However, these guarantees are not obligatory; and their terms, including the guarantee's duration and the extent of redress offered (e.g repair or replacement, parts and labour or parts only) will vary according to who is providing it.

In your case, you might be able to invoke your legal 'garantie de conformité'- and be sure to make specific reference to it - either with Brico Depot or with Airton.  However, it is my understanding that, despite what the law says, consumer rights are not as readily accepted by either sellers or manufacturers here in France as they are in the UK.

For more, go (for example):


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Update to my previous:

I see from here, http://vosdroits.service-public.fr/particuliers/F11094.xhtml, that in order to make a claim under 'défaut de conformité' the fault needs to have appeared within 6 months of purchase.  I don't know whether this is so in your case; but seeing as 9 months have now past, you could struggle making the case.

Unfortunately, to prove a 'vis caché', the fault needs to have been there from the start.  Which too, could be hard to prove ...


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I am guessing that your clime w   as connected using the rallonge pré chargé with the raccords automatique, if thats the case its not a question of if it will leak but when it will leak, its not at all uncommon for them to need a recharge within the first year of operation, if you manage to get  Airton to send out a frogoriste he will not only charge you but tow the party line and not tell you that the only way to avoid recurrence is to have it plumbed in without the raccords automatiques whereupon it will give years of service until something leaks through old age not a seal that is unfit for the purpose.

I have friends who work for BOC and they tell me the the O ring seals they use that resist the modern réfrigérants cost more each than an entire Airton clime, my one is the older model with the old gas and flared mechanical couplings, they dont leak, all the quick-fit ones will and as I said its not a question of if but when.

Its also compounded by peoples curiosity in the shop, may even be the staff, they read that the coils are precharged and press the nipple on the coupling to see if its true, in doing so releasing the gas, so they pick up another one and some poor muppet gets to buy the one they have partially emptied.

I actually have some sympathy with Airton on this subject, before the quick release couplings there were few if any warranty claims and mine having fitted myself I knew that the warranty terms were that I had to have it checked for pressure by a frigoriste before they would send someone out, if their frigoriste found that it did not have the required amount I would be charged.

Mine only cost €129 and I am still amazed and crossing my fingers that its still working after 7 years, everyone that I know who has bought one since has had problems and the frogoristes who come out end up selling them a complete new system at a much higher price.

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Having taken stuff back to Brico- Depot in the past they have been less than helpful, saying that problems are their responsibility only for 30 days and after this time I have to contact the manufacturer if there are any problems.

Is this true in France ? ( unlike in U.K where guarantee problems are the concern of the retailer during the guarantee period ).

There is a little muddled thinking here.

You are confusing two things. One is your rights under Sale of Goods legislation and the other is a manufacturer's guarantee or warranty. They are not the same thing.

SoG requires that (1) the goods are as described - so that you know that when you open the packaging you know what is there and what it does;

(2) that the goods are of satisfactory condition - the former term was "merchantable" - so they are properly constructed and in the condition you would expect for the price that you paid;

(3) that the goods should be fit for purpose - that they can be used effectively including for any specific purpose that you informed the seller about.

SoG protection springs from the contract you have made with the seller and your redress is from the seller. My understanding is that the British concept has been adopted by the EU and has been mandated on all members.

A guarantee is something different. It is provided by the manufacturer or distributor of the goods and is in addition to SoG protection. The provider can set whatever conditions he may choose but cannot override the statutory protection provided by SoG. Where goods are relative new the purchaser is always advised to approach the seller first.

SoG has been around in Britain for a long time. You would think that retailers would understand its provisions by now, but that is not always the case. If, as is my understanding, its principles have been adopted in France (but I may be wrong) then it is quite likely that, either, staff training may not have been adequate or that retailers are hoping that customers are not clued up on their rights so that they can be fobbed off as you have been.

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Here's some other information about European law http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecc/consumer_topics/buying_goods_services_en.htm

Also here it is in French (handy if you want to print it off to show to retailers) http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/ecc/consumer_topics/buying_goods_services_fr.htm
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Many thanks for all, very useful, responses.

The machine cost 539 euros and the, ready-filled, pipes cost 99.

I have used it only a few times for heating (only as back-up for wood-burning stove ) and a few times for cooling in the summer.

The machine is working (for heating) again today!

On" heating" mode, does it use the refrigerant---indicating that not all has leaked away?

Is there some sort of microchip somewhere which may be faulty and, hopefully, easily replaced ?

Thanks again for responses
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Yes it uses the refrigerant in both heating and cooling modes so would indicate that all is well regarding the volume of fluid.

Mine has very simple controls compared to the newer ones but it does sometimes get itself confused and only a reboot will resume operations, each time i think that it is finally a refrigerant loss.

On this or another forum someone had problems with one and really got a downer on both Brico-depot and Airton, they even started a website or blog to slag them off, it was in English and you may well find it if you do a Google search, I dont think adopting their strategy will do you any favours though but you may learn something, I believe eventually they got things fixed probably despite rather than because of their method of protest.

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