Notes on warranty (Garantie vs. Gewährleistung)

This post might help to clarify some questions related to the warranty conditions of new hardware. It is the result of internal inquiries we performed in reply to customer requests. Skip if you’re not interested.

Switzerland, like other European countries, knows two forms of liability a vendor has to/can offer to clients of its hardware products: Gewährleistung and Garantie.

  • Gewährleistung is mandated by law and covers basic liability if a piece of hardware fails. In Switzerland, Gewährleistung was just extended from 12 to 24 months on Jan 1st, 2013. This means that for the first two years, any defect whose cause was already present at the time of purchase has to be covered by the vendor. As you can probably guess, the part in italic can be the crucial one.
  • Garantie is a voluntary service offered by most, but not all vendors. Its conditions can be pretty freely chosen by the vendor, unlike Gewährleistung where the terms are given by law. Garantie can cover a wider range of defects and it can also be a service you have to pay for.

Now how does this matter to you? Let’s take a current real life example: you’d like to buy a new Apple MacBook Pro 13″. Right now, you have a number of interesting options:

  • Neptun: CHF 1305.-, 2 years of Gewährleistung (by law), 3 years of Apple Garantie (price of Apple Care included)
  • Dataquest: CHF 1240.-, 2 years of Gewährleistung (by law), 2 years of Dataquest Garantie. Additionally, you can pay CHF 99.- for a third year of Dataquest Garantie.
  • Apple EDU Store: CHF 1268.-, 2 years of Gewährleistung (by law), 1 year of Apple Garantie. Additionally, you can pay CHF 210.- for another 2 years of Apple Garantie. IDES offers the same to ETH employees for CHF 195.-

It’s hard to tell if the conditions of the additional Garantie are really more accommodating than those of the mandatory Gewährleistung. Wear parts like the battery for example are typically covered by neither. Harddisks on the other hand (most common failing part in a laptop) should be covered by both. In the end the best option will also depend on your usage pattern and the expected life time of your device. Regardless of the type of warranty you have, you should always report any problem you’d like to get fixed as soon as possible.

Sources:
Apple warranty conditions
Computer World article

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