Buyer beware: Return policies and warranties in Mexico

Illustration: Courtesy
Illustration: Courtesy

Return policies and warranties are not necessarily the same in Mexico as they are in Canada and U.S.

When purchasing furniture or any large item, always ask to see both policies. Reputable retailers have no problem providing this information. In Mexico, legally binding agreements are those in writing and Spanish. English is only for courtesy.

Upon delivery, always unwrap and carefully inspect the item before you sign shipping receipts. Do not let delivery people pressure you to sign quickly. Once you have signed, it means you accept the article as is.

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If there is damage or it is incorrect, contact the retailer immediately. If you cannot reach them, tell the shipper to take it back. Once you sign for the article, you will have little if any recourse.

After you have signed for the item, any problems that arise are considered warranty issues.

Most warranties cover defaults in materials and manufacturing for a limited period. Warranties are the responsibility of the manufacturer, not the retailer. If the retailer assists, it is a courtesy, not an obligation.

Manufacturers prefer to repair rather than replace items and use third-party companies to handle warranty repairs. There is no legal obligation for the manufacturer to rectify the issue promptly during the warranty period. The promptness and ability of their third-party repair company to fix the problem vary depending on the quality of their employees.

Some manufacturers conduct regular training and testing. Most do not, which means the service is often lacking in promptness and ability to diagnose and fix the issue.

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In Mexico, should you have an issue with your dishwasher or washing machine, for example, and you have a renter coming in two days, be prepared with a backup plan. As with most warranty work, it can take weeks or months to resolve. A call to the retailer most often results in them telling you to contact the manufacturer.

Calling the retailer or manufacturer repeatedly and in anger can make the issue worse. There is an unwritten code in Mexico that complainers should wait even longer as a life lesson.

Threatening to make a call to PROFECA (Procuraduría Federal del Consumidor) will not get you much further. PROFECA is a conciliation-based service. Their focus is to get the two parties together to work out an amicable solution.

It is not a legal body, so there are no penalties should talks break down. The timeframe to work an issue through PROFECA will often take longer than waiting for the third-party repair company.

Should you decide to pursue a legal route, be prepared for a long wait and legal costs often more than what it cost to purchase.

My advice? Always inspect your purchases before signing the shipping receipt. For the issues that arise, resolve them with friendliness and be prepared with a lot of patience and a backup plan.

Sheryl Novak is an expat Canadian who has owned a home in Mexico for over 10 years. She is the owner of SOLutions Mexico — the online furniture store for your home in Mexico. She is considered the expert on sourcing all styles of furniture, for all sizes of budgets, in Mexico. Email the author at sa.novak@solutionsmexico.com for a free newsletter on how to get good value on furniture in Mexico.

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