Spain just passed a law that makes it mandatory for manufacturers selling their products in the country to offer three years of warranty for all their products. The law will force all companies operating in Spain to extend the limited warranty of their products, including Apple, effectively turning Spain into one of the best places to buy an iPhone. That’s one year longer than the two-year warranty period that European Union citizens get when they buy an iPhone, and two years longer than the one-year limited warranty that Apple offers in the US and UK. On top of that, the new bill forces companies to store spare parts for 10 years, which is double the current 5-year minimum.
The law applies to all products, not just the iPhone. But smartphones are must-have devices in all markets, and the iPhone is at the high-end of the price spectrum. Users often keep their phones for years. They’re often resold or passed to family members after the original buyer upgrades. By extending warranties, regulators will offer customers more protection against manufacturing issues that should be covered under a limited warranty, putting pressure on companies to increase the quality of their products and customer care.
The iPhone is also a good example when it comes to product quality and customer care. Apple’s limited warranty might vary depending on the market, but iPhone buyers will often get excellent service in Apple stores. Apple has often talked during its recent media events about extending the life of its products and has taken steps to increase the repairability of its iPhones. Apple also offers AppleCare+ extended warranty which covers accidental damage. Other companies run similar extended warranty programs. The law won’t impact AppleCare.
The law includes other provisions that might come in handy, including an objective measuring of a product’s durability. If a product does not meet the durability estimates agreed upon at purchase, a customer can demand their product to be repaired or replaced. It’s unclear how this will apply to iPhone, but the obvious benefit is the extra pressure on companies to improve the quality of their devices.
Moreover, customers now have five years to exercise their rights to make a claim instead of three. Interestingly, iPadizate reports that the commercial guarantees included in the advertising of products will prevail over those offered in legal warranty statements.
Finally, the new law also applies to digital content for the first time ever, including apps, games, and software. The law does have one negative side-effect. Digital goods have to be offered immediately after purchase, which could effectively terminate the preorders of games in the country.
While Spain is a member of the EU, it’s unclear if the union’s governing bodies will consider a similar law that would apply uniformly in the region. However, the law could significantly impact the quality of goods sold elsewhere, regardless of whether or not other countries copy these regulations. Companies selling goods in Spain will have to ensure the quality of their products can meet the local warranty requirements. This could lead to manufacturing and design changes that would improve the quality of products sold everywhere else.