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Repair instead of replace – and save money: New EU rules for sustainable consumer behavior, the repair bonus is already available now

Google Suche: Plattform Reparaturbonus
© GOOGLE (Screenshot)

The majority of the EU population prefers a repair to a new purchase. In future, manufacturers will be obliged to repair products even after the statutory warranty period has expired. Anyone who wants to do something for the environment and save money now can take advantage of the repair bonus.

You know the situation: the outboard motor, a piece of equipment or navigation instruments have only just been purchased, but give up the ghost shortly after purchase or immediately after the statutory warranty period has expired. Premature and planned obsolescence is often at play here.

Generally speaking, you can complain about faulty or defective goods within two years of purchase. These are warranty rights under the law. The warranty is an additional, voluntary service provided by the manufacturer (manufacturer’s warranty) or the retailer (retailer’s warranty). They are free to determine the duration and conditions.

Consumers can usually choose between guarantee and warranty

As a rule, you can choose which system you want to use to complain about the goods: guarantee or warranty. In the case of a guarantee, the following applies: if the repair has failed twice or if the retailer has replaced the product in vain, you can claim your money back.

However, if the warranty (and guarantee) have expired, consumers previously only had the choice of having the defective part or the broken appliance repaired at their own expense – or buying a new one straight away.

This unsatisfactory situation for consumers is now set to change: as the European Parliament announced, the EU Parliament in Strasbourg adopted its position on a stronger right to repair by 590 votes to 15 with 15 abstentions in November last year.

The new EU rules should make it easier to repair faulty goods

The new rules are intended to encourage more sustainable consumption: they should make it easier to repair faulty goods, reduce waste and promote the repair industry. During the warranty period, sellers would therefore be

  1. would be obliged to repair instead of replace if a repair costs the same or less – unless the repair is not feasible or inconvenient for the consumer,
  2. the MEPs also proposed extending the warranty period by one year from the date of repair.</li

The background to this is that consumers should have the right to demand a repair for devices even after the warranty period has expired.

To make repairing more attractive than replacing, manufacturers should have to provide loaner devices for the duration of the repair. If a product can no longer be repaired, an already repaired product could be offered instead.

To date, there have been many reasons that have prevented consumers from having their defective device repaired

Until now, high costs, difficult access to repair services or design features that prevent repair have often prevented consumers from having a product repaired.

Parliament therefore wants to ensure that independent businesses offering repairs and maintenance, as well as end consumers, have all the necessary spare parts, information and tools at reasonable prices.

Consumers should be able to use online platforms to find repair businesses (including so-called repair cafés) and sellers of refurbished goods in their area. MEPs also propose using national repair funds to provide vouchers and other financial incentives to make repairs more affordable and attractive.

The new EU directive would also have a positive impact on the environment: throwing away consumer goods that could still be repaired has a profound impact on the environment: every year in the EU it generates 261 million tons of CO2-equivalent emissions and 35 million tons of waste, while wasting 30 million tons of resources.

Consumers who replace products instead of repairing them incur additional costs of around EUR 12 billion per year. According to a study by the European Commission, 77% of the EU population would prefer a repair to a new purchase.

The new directive aims to make repairs simpler, more accessible and more affordable

In February 2024, the EU Parliament and the Council agreed on the new rules for the right to repair proposed by the EU Commission. “Consumers want to take an active role and contribute to a greener environment. The Commission has listened to this wish”, said EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, welcoming the agreement.
Unnecessary waste and an unnecessary waste of valuable resources could be avoided, among other things, by repairing goods instead of automatically replacing them with new ones. “We want to help consumers move away from the throwaway mentality that is so harmful to our planet”, said Reynders; the new directive will make repair “easier, more accessible and more affordable”.

If the European Commission has its way, consumers will be able to demand simpler and cheaper repair of defects in all devices that must be technically repairable – even and especially if the statutory warranty period has already expired.

Manufacturers will be obliged to provide public information about their repair services and, in particular, to indicate the approximate cost of the most common repairs. The agreed regulations also oblige Member States to promote repairs with further measures, e.g. repair bonuses, repair vouchers or repair funds.

Repairing instead of throwing away: the repair bonus already exists in Germany and Austria

In some parts of Germany (Saxony and Thuringia), a new environmental initiative has already been launched to promote the repair of electrical and electronic appliances. With the so-called repair bonus, consumers can receive a grant of up to 200 euros for the repair of a defective electrical appliance.
Applications can be submitted by private individuals residing in the respective federal state to which the repair bonus applies. The prerequisite is that the defective electrical appliance is at least three years old and is in one of the following areas: Household appliances, consumer electronics, office and computer technology, telecommunications, entertainment electronics.

The repair bonus amounts to 50 percent of the repair costs, up to a maximum of 200 euros (100 euros in Thuringia). The subsidy can be applied for for the repair of one electrical appliance per year (twice a year in Saxony). The repair bonus can be applied for online or by post. It is not yet known when the repair bonus will be available throughout Germany.

In Austria is already further along: Since April 2022, private individuals residing in Austria (nationwide) have been able to apply for a repair bonus via a repair voucher, which covers up to 50 percent of the repair costs and/or up to 30 euros for obtaining a cost estimate (maximum total of 200 euros) for their electrical and electronic appliances.

Repair bonus Austria: www.reparaturbonus.at
© www.reparaturbonus.at (Screenshot)

The repair bonus is financed by the European Union’s financing and recovery fund “Next Generation EU” as part of the Austrian Recovery and Resilience Plan. The repair bonus comprises a total funding volume of 130 million euros until 2026.

A new repair platform will make it easier for consumers to find suitable repair shops

According to the EU, another new feature is the establishment of a European repair platform, which is intended to make it easier for consumers to find suitable repair shops using easy-to-use search tools. Repair shops, often small and medium-sized enterprises, will be able to offer their services via the platform.

In the next, final step, the European Parliament and the Council must now formally adopt the text on which they have already reached political agreement. Once this has been done, the directive on the repair bonus will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union and will enter into force 20 days later.

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