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How do I claim services and repair things?

How to proceed with product complaints is already fairly well known. But what about claims for services or repairs? Can they also be claimed and under what rules? This is the focus of our article.

7 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

Virtually any activity offered by an entrepreneur to consumers can be considered a service. This could be, for example, trouser shortening, car repairs or hair dyeing and cutting. However, you are not always satisfied with the resulting creation. What then?

Prevent the complaint

In many cases, a complaint can be prevented by specifying very precisely what you want from the service (or by the service provider specifying it in detail in their offer, which you accept). If you ask your hairdresser to cut the sleeves of your jacket by 3 centimetres or change the oil in your car, the brief is quite clear, but if you ask your hairdresser for “a haircut like Jennifer Aniston’s or Ryan Reynolds'”, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the result. So the maximum possible level of specification is in order. Ideally, you should take a photo to the hairdresser and discuss exactly whether you want your hair lightened or darkened, exactly how much shorter, where you can use the razor, and so on.

If you are observing the service (for example, the aforementioned hair, beard or nail trimming), it is appropriate to correct any deviations from your specifications.
If the service provided still does not correspond to your expectations, then the service is most likely defective and you can complain about it.

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When, how and what can be claimed

It is necessary to distinguish whether you are not satisfied with the result immediately when taking over the order (the hair colour is chestnut, not floating), or whether the service was fine when taking over and the defect became apparent later. If the result of the service is different from what you agreed, request such adjustment or completion so that you can be satisfied. It is best to pay for the service after this has happened.

The contractor is only responsible for defects that are present in the work at the time of acceptance. If the defect or non-conformity with the brief is not immediately apparent, it doesn’t matter, you are still entitled to make a claim. However, it is advisable to point it out without delay after you discover it (for example, permanent dye completely washes out of your hair in two days). This can generally be within two years and, in the case of buildings, within five years of the work being handed over. This takes into account the characteristics that the service is generally supposed to meet (e.g. the aforementioned washing out of the hair dye after three months is no longer a defect). If you point out hidden defects later, you risk having your claim rejected, as well as possibly losing your claim in court.

Tip: We have described the general principles of product complaints in another article.

Complaint process

The complaint process itself is not particularly different from the procedure for purchasing goods. You should make your claim directly at the establishment where the service was provided. It is advisable to draw up a report on the complaint, stating who is making the complaint, what is being complained about and when, and what is being claimed. It is also possible to make a complaint via the web or by telephone. However, you will lose the evidence that the complaint has been made.

The claim must be decided immediately, within three days at the latest, and the defect must be rectified within 30 days of the claim. If the defect can be rectified, you can ask for a repair, for what is missing or for a reasonable discount. If the defect cannot be rectified, then you can ask for a discount or withdrawal from the contract and a refund.

Claiming a repair and the contract for the work

A work contract is typically used to repair or modify an item (car repair, shoe repair or clothing alterations). According to the Civil Code, a work is defective if it does not conform to the contract. The work, which takes the form of a repair, does not conform to the contract of work when the defect is either not rectified at all or not in its entirety.

The contractor shall again be liable for defects in the repair or modification when the client takes over the work.

If these are obvious defects (sleeves are cut too short, repaired mobile phone does not work), then they should be claimed immediately. It is therefore appropriate to inspect the repaired item immediately. However, some defects will only become apparent later. These can be claimed within a period of up to 24 months. The repairer is also liable to you for defects in the used items and parts he has procured and used for the repair, he is in the position of a seller in relation to them. So, for example, if the drain pump in a dishwasher is replaced, the repairer is liable for defects in the pump when it is taken over, as well as for defects that occur during the 24-month period.

Electronic communications services

There are some services that are specifically exempted from the Civil Code. These include electronic communications services – in other words, the possibility of making calls, sending text messages or using the internet, which are provided by your operator.

It may happen that the service is not of the required quality – the internet does not work two days a month, you cannot make a call one day, or the download speed is significantly reduced compared to the guaranteed internet speed. If these are not some momentary fluctuations that are not worth talking about, then you can claim a discount for the service provided.

The same process then applies to a billing claim when you receive a bill for many times the usual amount and you know you didn’t use the services you were billed for. Note that filing a claim in this case does not mean that you do not have to pay the disputed amount. You file a claim directly with the telecom operator. Only if you are not satisfied with the outcome of the complaint can you contact the Czech Telecommunications Office, where so-called objections to the handling of the complaint are filed.

From law practice: Mr. Michal started a dispute with his telecommunications operator. At a time when data packages were not yet common, he used only minimal data and used his computer with satellite internet to access the internet. His regular phone bills were in the hundreds, but the operator surprised him with a bill of 5,500. Mr Michal was absolutely certain that he had not used his phone at all on the day he was supposed to download large amounts of data. He even knew that he was in a meeting and had the phone in front of him, which he had witnesses to. He therefore complained about the bill that the operator had issued to him, but to no avail. Even a dispute with the Czech Telecommunications Office did not go in his favour, so he turned to us. We went through the whole case and the operator’s argumentation together and recommended to go through the court proceedings as well. There we argued with a series of new evidence, pointing out the operator’s commitment to have the client approve the use of new data packages, which the operator did not document, and we also argued with witness testimony confirming the non-use of the phone during the incriminated period. With our help, Mr Michal won the court case.

Transportation of persons

Taking a public transport bus or train means that you have entered into a contract of carriage and the carrier is responsible for your safety and comfort. The most common problem you may face is delays. You are entitled to compensation for this according to the carrier’s terms and conditions.

In air transport, compensation is governed by Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Under it, you are entitled to financial compensation and, where appropriate, vouchers for meals and accommodation. However, this depends on the length of the delay and the distance to which you are travelling.

Tip: We have covered passenger rights in detail in our blog post.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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