John Lewis give 2 year guarantee on white goods appliances

Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances?

 There’s been a lot of talk about a new EU directive proposing to give everyone a 2 year guarantee on all appliances. Many articles are even saying this new right is being suppressed in the UK, and that consumers are being deceived by retailers. But we already have better protection with the Sale of Goods Act in the UK.

This ruling only proposes that consumers have a right to claim against a retailer regarding faulty goods for a period of 2 years. However, in the UK we not only already have this right through the Sale of Goods Act if a product proves to have an inherent fault or fails to last a reasonable time, but we have it for a much longer period of 5 years in Scotland, and 6 years in England, Wales & Northern Ireland.

This can be confirmed by the reaction of the Citizens Advice Bureau -

“The limitation on legally required provision of redress to a two year period is an important reduction in protection (my emphasis) for UK consumers..”.

Source: Eu proposals for a Consumer Rights Directive (Pdf)

The UK Sale of Goods Act already offers us protection against faulty goods even when the manufacturer’s guarantee has run out and says that goods must last a “reasonable time” – which can be claimed anything up to 6 years from the date of purchase.

The problem is that what is a reasonable time is subject to much interpretation and is also affected by how much a product cost, and how it has been used. Retailers and manufacturers have always stubbornly refused to entertain most claims for free repairs or compensation after the 12 month period and most consumers have historically accepted this even if begrudgingly at times.

The government’s guidelines (regarding the Sale of Goods Act) say:

“Goods are of satisfactory quality if they reach the standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, taking into account the price and any description.”

Faulty under 6 months old?

Relatively recent changes in the Sale of Goods Act put the onus on the retailer to prove that a fault on a new appliance within the first 6 months is not an inherent fault. In other words unless they can prove otherwise it will be automatically assumed that your appliance had a fault when it was sold if it fails in the first 6 months, and be entitled to compensation or even a refund. Most retailers will still try to fob you off though. Many have a voluntary exchange policy of something like 28 days during which they will swap an appliance over out of “good will” if it fails inside the period.

This is an addition to your rights and nothing to do with consumer rights at all. They will usually simply say they can’t exchange a faulty machine after this period but if it is under 6 months old and has a substantial fault you need to tell them they sold you a faulty product, which is in breach of the Sale of Goods Act. If it’s only a minor fault though it may be better to accept a repair, in fact they can insist on one if they can show it’s disproportionately expensive to replace it. This little caveat can cause a lot of problems because they might argue that’s always the case though generally if it was a serious fault they’d probably find it better to swap it.

There is no 6 year guarantee

 We don’t have the right to free repairs up to the 5 or 6 years in the sense that any faults up to 6 years should be repaired free of charge but I do think many faults that render an appliance uneconomical to repair within the 6 years should be potentially covered (depending on full circumstances). It’s not necessarily automatically unreasonable if a fault develops on a washing machine or other white good within the first 5 or 6 years. Appliances can and do break down and this is accepted in the Sale of Goods Act. However, whilst it might be considered reasonable for a fault to develop on a £200 washing machine after 2 years washing for a family of 4 every day it might not be considered reasonable for a washing machine costing £600 to suffer the same.

Major faults occurring within the first 5 or 6 years (which these days commonly render an appliance beyond economical repair) are a different matter though, and I believe many cases may well be covered. If an appliance breaks down and is unrepairable because of the huge cost quoted to repair it within the 5 or 6 years (especially after only 2 or 3) then I believe there is a strong case that the product has definitely not lasted a reasonable time. You have to take into account how much it cost though, and how much use it’s had. Maybe if a washing machine only cost £200 and did 5 years of heavy washing it could be considered a reasonable lifespan, but one costing £350 and only washing for one person, or a couple, should surely have lasted longer? It’s very much open to interpretation but don’t forget the Sale of Goods Act specifically qualifies the phrase that a product should last a reasonable time by saying “reasonable” is “that (which) a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory”.

A can of worms is waiting to be opened

 Until enough people start to fight for these rights and retailers and manufacturers are forced to comply most consumers may have to resort to taking a seller to the small claims court to get a decision on the true extent of their rights ( Small claims court advice ). If this ever occurs on a large scale it will cause serious ripples because the status quo affords a lot of extra profit to retailers and manufacturers and effectively encourages them to continue to produce or sell poor quality rubbish. They financially benefit from doing so through extra sales when they don’t last, extra repair business, extra sales of spare parts and sales of extended warranties, which mostly cover repairs within the period that consumer legislation says many products shouldn’t be seriously breaking down within anyway – and so shouldn’t be necessary. I’m sure many people take out an extended warranty to protect them from the fear of a major fault developing within the first 5 years, which may well be covered under the Sales of Goods Act.

What would happen if consumers actually received their statutory rights?

Shops going out of business?

I suspect retailers were made responsible for all problems with the products they sell – even when it’s clearly not their fault – for two reasons. Firstly because the customer only has a contract with the people they bought from – and not the people who made it. They shouldn’t have to negotiate with faceless third parties. Secondly, and I’d like to think this was intended though it’s only speculation on my part, if retailers sell rubbish they (in theory) should suffer financial and time consuming consequences and would either stop selling the rubbish or put pressure on manufacturers to improve quality.

Unfortunately retailers do sell a lot of poor quality products that don’t last anywhere near as long as they should, and of course manufacturers continue to make them. Because most consumers don’t enforce their consumer rights both manufacturers and retailers generally profit nicely from sub standard quality and have little incentive to produce or sell better quality products. Consumers take most of the impact of poor quality goods themselves by paying out extra for extended warranties or by replacing products far too often, or by paying out to repair products within the first 6 years when the retailer may well be liable. Most manufacturers (of appliances at least) own so many brands they don’t even fear people being so dissatisfied with a brand that they don’t buy it again because they own many of the “alternative” brands. ( Who owns who? Who really makes your appliance? )

If consumers en mass started to reject the status quo it would put the cat amongst the pigeons and cause a lot of trouble for retailers and manufacturers. Retailers in particular wouldn’t know what had hit them. In the end they’d have to stop selling rubbish because they could no longer profit from doing so. They would only be able to survive selling products that were good enough to last the “reasonable time” expected.

I wouldn’t try to say that most appliances are so rubbish that the majority of them don’t last (although some might), but there’s little doubt that an unacceptable percentage of white goods appliances do suffer expensive breakdowns well within the first 5 or 6 years and this current situation, which is bad for the environment as well as consumers, is only viable because it’s the consumer that bears most of the financial costs. If the consumer refused to accept this burden it would pass back to the retailer as the Sale of Goods Act intended and guess what – the retailers would ensure products they sold were more reliable.

Would we be better off?

Would we better or worse off?

This paragraph is a little tongue in cheek but believe it or not I would worry about how all this could impact the economy especially in these very tough times for retailers. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt from the “credit crunch” it’s that our economy seems to be based almost entirely on everyone buying lots of products they do not need, and replacing them way too regularly. As soon as we enter a time when people stop buying things they don’t really need we have mass unemployment and business’s struggle. So if all products were much more reliable it could have a big impact on sales and jobs. It would however be better environmentally and that’s pretty important at the moment.

The cost of products would have to go up because you can’t have very cheap and very reliable. It’s ironic that in a way, all these shoddy goods help keep our economy going. However, the same could be said for crime and vandalism, think how many jobs would be lost if there was no crime – seriously it would be millions. There’s no need for every product to be high quality and there’s plenty of room for a healthy variance in quality but products should still last a “reasonable” time and most people would think a white goods appliance lasting less than 5 or 6 years before a major fault renders it not worth repairing is not reasonable in most circumstances.

Fair Wear and Tear clause

A vital point to realise is that the Sale of Goods act in the UK giving rights to compensation for between 5 and 6 years is not a guarantee or warranty. There has always been a fair wear and tear clause and it has always said that it does not mean that no breakdowns at all should occur within this period -

“Goods cannot always be expected to work fault-free. They can break down through normal use. Buyers cannot, therefore, expect to hold the seller responsible for fair wear and tear. There needs to be a fault that was present on the day of sale even though it only became apparent later on, or a mis-description of the goods, or a lack of durability that suggests the goods were not of satisfactory quality to start with”.

Research further

Related articles Last year I spent a few weeks researching consumer rights and wrote an entire section focussing on consumer rights for washing machine owners though most of the advice should be equally relevant for most appliances and even other products.

John Lewis give a minimum 2 year guarantee on all washing machines, 3 year guarantee on all John Lewis own brand appliances and 5 year warranties on all TVs although they take the form of “free” extended warranties run by an extended warranty company after the first year.

Many manufacturers give 2 year guarantees (such as Bosch) and even 5 year parts and labour guarantees such as Miele or 10 year guarantees (ISE10 and occasionally Miele). The longer the guarantee period the better. However, any guarantee given by a retailer or a manufacturer, as the famous phrase says, “is in addition to your statutory rights”. The Sale of goods Act is a separate right which often needs fighting for and is shrouded in mystery, confusion and denial as well as (to be fair) often over inflated expectations from consumers.

Here’s what the government advises retailers regarding their obligations

I’ve highlighted some phrases in bold.

“If a customer rejects faulty goods within this ‘reasonable’ period, they’re entitled to ask for their money back. All customers can claim compensation at any time if they choose. If you sell to consumers they can ask for a repair or a replacement immediately (instead of asking for a refund) at any time until six years after purchase.

If you’re dealing with a consumer, any repair or replacement you arrange must not cause them too much inconvenience. You may have to pay for other costs such as transportation. However, if a replacement is impossible and the goods cannot be repaired economically, or vice versa, then you can offer a full or partial refund.

In law you have a responsibility to your customer for up to six years from the date of purchase (in Scotland, five years from discovery of the problem). During this period, you are legally obliged to deal with any claim of breach of contract.”

“If faulty goods are involved and the purchase was made a reasonably short time ago, you should offer a refund. Although they won’t usually do so, the customer may claim compensation from you – either immediately following the sale or up to six years afterwards. If they do so and it’s a reasonable claim, you can either offer to repair or replace the goods, or to provide an appropriate sum in redress”

Source gov.uk/

My article here gives examples of how even years out of guarantee we may still have rights – Out of guarantee doesn’t always mean you have to pay out

Related Consumer Links -

I’ve read all the consumer advice about washing machines, I’m thinking of taking them to court (This page contains a link which allows you to pursue a small claim online, without even having to leave home. The article is about washing machines but the link can be used to pursue any small claims court action)

My Consumer advice section.

The above link includes many links to consumer booklets and guides as well as looking at many related FAQs regarding white goods and repairs. One of the most useful guides available is written for retailers. This is a valuable guide for retailers, but as consumers it is very useful to see what retailers are being told are their responsibilities by the Department of Trade & Industry.

The Law Relating to the Supply of Goods and Services – A TRADER’S GUIDE (pdf file)

UPDATE: 16/10/2009

I’ve just found a useful BBC news page Five consumer laws you really ought to know. There are several references to washing machines and white goods in the article and the comments below it.

UPDATE: Sept 2011

Thinking about it, retailers have nothing to lose by simply denying any responsibility (apart from goodwill and reputation of course – which you’d expect they’d be more caring about). If approached by a customer with a valid case and they pay up it costs them a certain amount of money. If they fight it all the way, most customers give up. In the rare cases where customers don’t give up and eventually win, the retailer only pays out roughly what they would have in the first place. It’s a no-brainer for any retailer that isn’t overly bothered about happy, life-time customers, and thinks there’s plenty more fish in the sea..

As I say they’ve nothing to lose except their reputation and future custom of the customer and their friends and relatives. Their arrogance, and complete lack of concern about losing another customer implies they are concerned primarily with immediate profit. That’s why shopping at places like John Lewis and possibly the Co-operative Electrical who generally have well earned reputations they are proud of and try to maintain makes a lot of sense. I believe they are more likely to genuinely try to resolve any genuine issues than most other retailers.

(I have affiliate relationships with John Lewis & Co-operative electrical but the above paragraph still represents my sincere opinion. I also have affiliate links with most other retailers)


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Comments

  1. As a retailer I feel very frustrated by the mixed messages we seem to be getting on the above issue.
    Only last week I read a leading trade paper that stated that retailers were not bound by a 6 year warranty period set down in European legislation.
    Like us, most retailers want to keep exsisting customers and would not begrudge going the extra mile to keep our customers happy. What would help on this issue would be a definate piece of Uk legislation on the matter to clear up once and for all the mixed messages that retailers seem to be getting.

  2. Thanks for your contribution Nick: Retailers are bound by the UK’s 6 year period (5 in Scotland) defined under the Sales of Goods Act. It’s not a warranty period or guarantee period though, the only “guarantee” we get is from the manufacture which as we all know, “does not affect our statuary rights”.

    It’s just the period in which a consumer is entitled to take a retailer to court if they believe the goods they bought were not fit for purpose or haven’t lasted a reasonable time.

    In my opinion any major product costing hundreds of pounds should not suffer a major breakdown within 6 years, especially one that renders it uneconomical to repair. The problem is that some products are so cheap one could argue it is naive to expect them to last more than 6 years anyway.

    If you buy a washing machine for £200 and use it to wash for a family of 5 and the main bearings or motor fails after 5 years it could be argued that it’s still “reasonable” considering the work it’s done and the relatively small amount it cost.

    In cases of “cheap” products it may need a small claims court to decide. I doubt there would be so much uncertainty though if a consumer has purchased an expensive product and it breaks down needing very expensive repairs within 5 or 6 years. The chances are though that the consumer will meet great resistance from the retailer and would need to be extremely insistent, stubborn and prepared to use the small claims court to get their “rights”. At the moment the majority of consumers don’t either realise the extent of their rights or aren’t prepared to fight for them.

  3. Thanks for your help on this issue. I fear this will continue to be a sticking point within the industry. I have an example of a problem our company faced 6 months ago.
    One of our customers bought a creda freestanding cooker from us 3 1/2 years ago. when she contacted us 6 months ago she told us that rust marks were appearing around one of the hob hotplates. She had contacted Creda to get the machine exchanged. As expected Creda point blank refused stating the machine was out of its warranty period. The customer then got back to us asking for us to remove the damaged appliance and provide her with a replacement free of charge, which as reputable dealer we gladly did at our own expense. We tried to get Creda to take the appliance back from us for credit and surprise surprise they point blank refused to help us aswell. Now i could take this matter further and try and take creda to court but frankly is it really worth all the time and effort to do so.We are now left with a 3 1/2 year old appliance which cannot be sent back being left to gather rust and dust in our warehouse.

    My point here is that if creda are supplying us with a machine that has gone rusty within a 3 1/2 year period of time why does the small retalier have to bear the complete loss on supplying the replacement appliance to the customer. Surely Creda or any other manufacturer that makes appliances must hold some responsabilty for the products they supply and should help the retailer if the applinace becomes faulty within a reasonable period of time. Small retailers cannot bear this loss alone and will need help from the manufacturers. Until the manufacturers are forced to take responsabilty for the long term quality of the products they make i fear small retailers will the ones who lose out the most while the people who make these machines get away scott free.

  4. Hello Nick: It sounds like your company is reputable and defends its reputation even at cost to itself. Your customer was very lucky to get the cooker exchanged, which wouldn’t have happened with a larger retailer I’m sure. After using it for 3 and a half years, if she was entitled to a refund it would be a refund minus the value of 3 and a half years use. This would have to be worked out by trying to find the average life expectancy of the product.

    A retailer isn’t obliged to replace the product unless it’s unrepairable, only to repair it or offer a refund minus the appropriate amount for the use the customer has had from it, or to offer some amount of compensation if still usable and they accept compensation instead. It all depends on the exact circumstances.

    Your example highlights a major flaw in the Sales of Goods Act, which is that it gives rights to a consumer to be borne by the retailer but gives no rights to the retailer who is not responsible for the quality of the product. It’s one of the reasons I got out of selling finished goods and cannot imagine ever selling them again because of the unfair burden on retailers – particularly small ones. Having said that though, the retailer is responsible for choosing to profit from selling the goods they sell, and so one argument is that this is why they are fair game. If a retailer profits from selling rubbish then they get what they deserve don’t they? In practice though this is a simplistic view as most of the problems are caused by products not being so rubbish that no one will sell them, but being of just the right sub-standard quality to make them viable – as long as customers and retailers bear the main consequences of the lack of quality – instead of the manufacturers.

    A small retailer should have exactly the same rights as a consumer regarding the quality of products but they don’t. In theory the customer demands recompense from the retailer and in turn the retailer, who is only a customer of the manufacturer, demands recompense from the manufacturer. That way everything gets sorted. The problem is that only the end consumer can quote the Sales of Goods Act, which (as far as I’m aware) does not apply to the retailer who can quote nothing.

    National retailers have great clout, they don’t need to quote anything, just threaten to stop stocking their product. The manufacturers often dance to their tune and believe me the major retailers do have power over the manufacturers.

    The middle and lower retailers though have little or no clout and can’t make demands. The most they can do is stop retailing a product but as they are so small it’s as a flea bite to an elephant. Small retailers are often just grateful a manufacturer even allows them to sell their products, or are so small they can only buy through third party wholesalers where their power is just as weak.

    Small to medium sized retailers have no obvious rights and have no influence over giant manufacturers. The most they can threaten is to stop retailing a brand which they usually don’t want to do so they end up bearing the costs and the hassle themselves. The only people I can think of that could be a help to small retailers in this situation are the Federation of Small Businesses who have a legal helpline as part of the benefits of (paid) membership. I have emailed them asking for their take on this.

    I’ve just added a new paragraph to my original article entitled “Fair Wear and Tear clause” which you may find interesting. The quote is from the The Law Relating to the Supply of Goods and Services – A TRADER’S GUIDE (pdf) which offers a vital insight to a retailers responsibilities as advised to them by the Department of Trade & Industry.

  5. Thanks for your detailed help on this matter. Many thanks

  6. The life of Fridge-Freezers
    I bought my L~G fridge-freezer less than five years ago from a reputable local retailer (RLR).
    >> It started running madly the side (and later the back) of the casing >> heating up. Only way to stop it was to switch off at the mains.
    >> I rang RLR who said they would send a man round for the standard call-out fee.
    >> He came, offered four equally unsatisfactory explanations:
    >> 1. I had been leaving the door open
    >> 2. the door-seal had Failed
    >> He then removed the grille at the back
    >> 3. it needed re-gassing
    >> 4. the capillaries were blocked. I asked what with. “With solids”>> I queried this, how could it happen in a liquid/to gas/to liquid/to gas >> system. He gave no reply., but re-fixed the grille (8 screws)
    >> He then recommended I buy a new one – which would get me a £20 reduction >> of his bill, which he wrote out for £46 plus VAT.
    >> I gave him my cheque as in duty bound, but know I had been swindled

  7. Fair wear and tear is a valid exception to the 6 year rule but if your fridge needs replacing after less than 5 years how can that be fair wear and tear? Most people would agree that a fridge should last much longer than 5 years so if it is truly beyond economical repair you have a case for arguing it has not lasted a reasonable time.

    The problem is that honouring these consumer laws will cost retailers a fortune and they are trying to dodge the responsibility. If the people you bought it from refuse to offer any compensation you have no choice but to go to the small claims court and let them decide.

    If they decide in your favour though you will not be entitled to a full refund because you’ve had use of the appliance for almost 5 years. It could be decided for example that it’s lasted around half as long as it reasonably should have and therefore you should get half your money back.

    There are some useful links in my Washerhelp consumer section I’ve read all the consumer advice about washing machines, I’m thinking of taking them to court

  8. Of course I agree that after five years I should not expect my money back.
    What I do expect is a correct diagnosis, and trhe replacement of whichever component has failed.
    Repair would not have cost the retailer anything since I was under the illusion that I would pay the price of that component in the same way as I paid the “engineer’s” call-out fee.
    Was this man ‘qualified’ only to con elderly women into buying a new appliace because the old one must be written off?

  9. Have just read (under the Repaircare heading) contributions by someone whose his fridge-freezer needed only a “pcb” replacement.
    What is a “pcb” please.
    My appliance’s compressor and gas were working; was it a “pcb” fault that the “engineer” should have diagnosed BUT DID NOT?
    Incidentally I DID carefully study the “handbook” that came with the appliance. Very limited “trouble-shooting” advice. Nothing whatosever about running on and on apparently out of control.

  10. Lilly: PCB is a Printed Circuit Board. It’s a board full of resistors and microchips etc.

    I’m presuming from your description that there wasn’t enough gas in the machine due to a leakage. This meant the fridge could never be brought down to temperature and would run continuously.

    It sounds like the machine is beyond economical repair and so the question is has it lasted a reasonable amount of time? Most would say not. You need to go to the small claims court if the retailer refuses to offer any compensation. You can do it online easily and cheaply (links available on my consumer section links in previous comments above)

  11. Thanks for your latest.
    No, when I ran the fridge experimentally it cooled from 64deg room temp to 40deg (“Normal” setting) in a couple of hours, so presumably gas and compressor were OK. It’s juist that the motor wouldnot stop running… …
    Hence my question about pcb – or what about thermostats, are they indepednet, or incorporated into the pcb?
    I assume purchasing one of these would be possible and MUST cost less and be QUICKER than going to a small claims court?
    As usual, L.

  12. Lilly: The way I see it is -

    Either your fridge is beyond economical repair in which case you need to decide whether to accept this, or claim in the small claims court (which is actually pretty simple) against the seller under the Sales of Goods act.

    Or, your fridge has been misdiagnosed and is repairable. Unfortunately you can’t know this for sure without getting a second engineer out. Although I appreciate you are trying to find this out without getting an engineer we can’t get bogged down in trying to diagnose individual appliance faults.

    The best I can do is say that the diagnosis of not having enough gas because of a leak and therefore the appliance is not worth repairing is feasible. If a pcb or stat fault was causing the fridge to run continuously all the milk should freeze and it would get very cold indeed. On the other hand if there isn’t enough gas in to allow it to reach the required temperature it would run continuously because it can’t get cold enough to trip the stat.

    If you suspect the fridge is repairable you need to get another engineer (I’d recommend an LG dealer). If he confirms it’s not worth repairing you should be able to claim his costs as part of your compensation claim.

    If he says it is repairable for a reasonable cost you can try to claim back the money you paid for the first engineer and also decide whether to accept the repair as reasonable, or try to claim it is unreasonable to need this repair after 5 years or so in which case a small claims court judgement in your favour would be required.

    Unfortunately all this is a lot of stress and hassle which is why most people don’t bother and why most legitimate claims under the Sales of Goods Act don’t get pursued.

  13. I have just one month over the year guarantee Acer pc, I have contacted Acer as it has a fault they have told me since it is now out of warranty, I will have to pay £51.99 for collection and then pay for the repairs, I did state this EU directive but they insist they only have to give one year, do I have any rights I purchased the Acer from QVC should I go back to them, any help would be appreciated.

    Regards

    Paula

  14. Paula. Although your query isn’t regarding a white goods appliance the principles should be the same. The phrase, “we only have to give one years guarantee” is a bit of nonsense really because they don’t have to give any specific guarantee and many manufacturers give 2 year, 3 year, 5 year – 10 year warranties. And, as they are all forced to point out in their literature, the manufacturer’s guarantee “does not affect your statutory rights”.

    The statutory rights they mention are government imposed consumer rights written in The Sales of Goods Act as discussed in this article. The guarantee’s they give to us when we buy a product are, “in addition to your statutory rights.

    The statutory rights say a product should last a reasonable time before breaking down. What’s reasonable depends on the cost and how much usage it’s had but I would have thought most people would say a month out of guarantee isn’t reasonable especially if it’s an expensive fault.

    Your only redress is with the people you bought it from but they are likely to fob you off. The manufacturer has no responsibility whatsoever so don’t waste your time with them. Unless they decide to do something out of good will (which can happen) they are just not obliged to do anything even though they made it.

    Unfortunately (for the retailers) the retailer is 100% responsible but they are likely to fob you off too. Most retailers probably think it’s unfair that they are responsible and I have a lot of sympathy for that. But we should all be entitled to our rights without a fight (they buy products too don’t they?)

    The chances are most of the front line staff at most retailers will genuinely not have been trained about these rights and genuinely think once a product’s out of guarantee it’s just bad luck. Therefore anyone who believes they have a strong case may have to fight their way past them.

    All you can do is either shrug it off and accept it, or take advice from the consumer advice people with a view to taking them to the small claims court where a judge will decide if it’s reasonable that it has broken down so quickly or not. You wouldn’t be entitled to your money back but to claim compensation to cover the costs of repair.

    You need to read all the advice and booklets linked to on this article and the consumer help pages. It’s a lot of messing about, and most people won’t pursue it because of the hassle and stress, and there’s no guarantee of winning, which is why nothing much changes. However, the small claims court is supposed to make it relatively easy and cheap for ordinary consumers to take a company to court and it can even be done online – Taking a company to the small claims court.

    Retailers can’t afford to suddenly start compensating many thousands of people when products break down under 6 years old (5 in Scotland) so most will dig their heels in and refuse to do anything unless forced.

    As my original article points out, no one has a blanket 5 or 6 year guarantee under the Sales of Goods Act, people need to read the article and the links from it carefully to understand what their rights are. The UK Sales of Goods Act just sets out the maximum 5 and 6 year terms beyond which it’s too late to use the courts. We have a right for a product to last “a reasonable time” without breaking down and to last a “reasonable” time before needing replacing. What is reasonable is subjective, and all circumstances must be taken into account.

    I think products just out of guarantee have a strong case and I definitely believe any expensive product under 5 or 6 years old that breaks down and is beyond economical repair is also a strong case. However, if it’s been flogged really hard and was a budget brand things start to get cloudy.

  15. avatar Ken Gorman says:

    In our case, we bought replacement doors and side panels for our kitchen units. We assumed they were oak veneers. It transpires they were what is termed ‘foil’ (resembles vinyl wallpaper) glued onto MDF. A boiling kettle will over time melt the glue, loosening the foil, creating a bubbling effect. After 4 years, this has happened to us, but as we have no washing machine or tumble-dryer, this must have happened to others within 2 years. Indeed the retailers admitted (verbally) to at least one such problem. Trading Standards said we had a claim within the 6 year rule. The retailers would only replace ‘at cost’, i.e. at cost to us, but in any event they had nothing which we could accept. They ‘do not pay compensation. The original cost was £600 plus about £1400 labour, as drawers had to be made to replace the originals. Replacement with what are apparently more durable surfaces, ‘laminated’, will cost about £650 plus £300 labour. We have taken the claim to the Small Claims Court, for an amount between £950 and £2000, as we do not know the actual cost for certain.

    On the advice of a solicitor, as we paid our joiner for the goods, who had paid the retailers, we have to sue the joiner, the retailers, their suppliers (and as these suppliers have brought in the manufacturers as an extra defendant (having initially declined to give me their details)), the manufacturers.

    As the retailers had not submitted their Acknowledgement
    of Service in time, I posted my claim for judgment on 29th December, 1st. class. The Court says they do not have it. Meanwhile the retailers have declared their intention to defend, which is being allowed, as it would be, the court says, even if they had received my claim for judgment.
    The three dealers are limited companies, so have to use a solicitor, the same one in this case. It appears important to them to continue to sell rubbish.
    I’m doing my bit against shoddy goods. Is anyone else?

  16. Please keep us informed on your case Ken. Although it’s not directly related to appliances it’s interesting to see how people get on when taking a trader to the small claims court.

    Your case sounds a bit complex but if you buy kitchen doors they must be for for their purpose, and one of their purposes is to be fitted to the front of the cupboards above the kitchen worktop. Everyone knows kettles are normally used on these worktops so presumably any kitchen cupboard door should be designed to withstand the steam from a boiling kettle.

  17. avatar Joe Haugh says:

    Hi,

    I have read through your different posts, and all are of interest. I have been reading a lot around this subject, purely from a business I am starting up ( have not mentioned it here as don’t want to be accused of jumping on the bandwagon as such, if people want to know I wil post another piece with its details, it will be of use to people who commented here on this post.).

    I am interested to know of all those people when you returned to the retailer or manufacturer with their particular product issues, did you have the following :

    (A) Receipt, and where you asked for it?
    (B) Knowledge of guarantee length and expiration?

    This will help me understand more the issues that consumers are having with manufacturers and retailers, as this will help me fine tune the service I am working on.

    This website is a great resource for consumers,I will follow it more, and thanks for this very informative post.

  18. hi i purchased a slimline dishwasher in March 2008 from an online store, i had it fitted by a corgi regisyered gas fitter/plumber. i live alone so it is only used every 2/3 days, last week it kept switching itself off a few minutes after starting, and i had to unplug it and wait to restart it, but still same. i have had a plumber/ white goods engineer out today who says the pump need replacing, it has been leaking,maybe since fitted, as inside of area has lots of rust, says he will get price on pump, but maybe over £100, then it still may need new circuit board, but will not be able to tell until fitted new pump. i have contacted the retailer who says all appliances sold are brand new and carry 12 month warranty. i live on the isle of wight and paid £45 for delivery, so do not think the retailer will have engineer to call here. do i contact Belling, or the retailer to sort this out?

  19. Linda. As mentioned in the article and comments after, under the sale of Goods Act it’s the retailer you would need to complain to if you believe it’s not been of reasonable quality and has not lasted a reasonable time.

    Whether this is the case or not is far from clear and may need to be tested in the small claims court. There’s little doubt most retailers will fight you but that doesn’t mean they will win. It just means probably 99% of people will begrudgingly accept what they say. I can’t imagine any retailer accepting responsibility for a repair out of guarantee unless you fight, they will simply say, sorry, it’s out of guarantee there’s nothing we can do. However, this is not true. They are responsible under the Sale of Goods Act if you can show the appliance was not fit for purpose, or not of reasonable quality or has not lasted a reasonable time.

    Having said that we can’t say no appliance should ever break down at all out of guarantee so it depends on looking at all circumstances. If a minor fault develops maybe most people would accept it, but if the repair costs are going to be very expensive – and as commonly happens these days – beyond economical repair you probably have a good case that the appliance has not lasted a reasonable time.

    It doesn’t matter how rubbish a product may turn out to be, the manufacturer didn’t sell you the appliance, the retailer did, and the contract is between you and who you bought it from. It’s up to the retailer to take it up with the manufacturer if they have to pay out compensation.

    As you’ve found, retailers are reluctant to deal with this aspect of the sale of goods act and they’ve got away with it for so long they’ve all but forgotten about its implications. They are just not geared up for dealing with and more importantly paying out for thousands of claims under the Sale of Goods Act on appliances under 6 years old but outside of the manufacturer’s guarantee.

    Therefore only people prepared to go to the trouble of fighting for their rights and of course taking a chance they might lose the claim will pursue anything past the first brush off from the retailer and so nothing much changes. Generally, if you can show it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time you can claim compensation, which often may be the costs of the repair and of course your (minor) small claims court costs. If the appliance is beyond economical repair you may be entitled to claim a refund minus an appropriate amount for the use you have had from it prior to the fault.

  20. avatar Joe Haugh says:

    Linda,

    I think a very good response has been posted to your query, as pointed out the retailer is obliged under law to help in these circumstances and getting your problem fixed. Have you got any updates for us, always interested to know what has been said and what further action is been taken to rectify the situation for you.

    Sincerely,

    Joe

  21. Thanks to the information and advice provided by Andy I have at last had the defective fridge-freezer removed, and replaced by a Beko model of similar size at a cost of about £148 (free collection and delivery)- roughly half list price.
    This is rather more satisfactory than the “engineer’s” indication of £20 off his bill if I bought a new appliance! (See eearlier entries on blog above).
    Thanks again, Andy, for the moral support and effective help.
    Lilly.

  22. Many thanks Lilly.

    Anyone following this article might be interested to know I’ve added a few paragraphs to the original article quoting advice given by the government to retailers and linking to a business advice site run by the government. It’s down near the bottom under the heading “Here’s what the government advises retailers regarding their obligations”

  23. avatar Miss J Hunt says:

    Thankyou for the information on here. I have a faulty hotpoint fride freezer only 14 months old purchased from currys, and thought I didnt have any rights as the manufacturers guarantee was only 12 months and I couldnt afford extended warranty.
    I now intend to go down to currys and argue my case with them.

  24. Thanks, please let us know how you get on.

  25. avatar Miss J Hunt says:

    Went down this morning, the manager was very nice, but obviously well versed in the trading laws. He said he was unable to authorise any sort of refund or compensation, and the best chance of me getting anything of that sort would be to write a hand written letter to Customer Services, Currys, the parkway, Sheffield, when I have had an engineer come to look at the appliance and diagnosed the fault. If it was a faulty part that was either faulty from purchase or had become faulty without any sort of mis-use on our part, then Currys ‘may’ pay for the repair and refund the cost of the engineers call-out / labour.

    The problem with fridge/freezers is: When one breaks, you need another replacement immediately, and unless you have a garage or large house with enough room to store the old one, theres nowhere to put the broken appliance while the engineer comes. So either way I have had to buy a new one.
    I assume the small claims court will also require proof of the fault by an engineers report, in which case I cannot claim as I have nowhere to put the old appliance, and cannot now afford to lay out money for an engineers callout now I have had to purchase a new fridgefreezer (we walked straight OUT of Currys and into Comets !)
    Lesson learned for me, I have purchased a 5 year warranty on my new samsung fridgefreezer…..

  26. Miss J Hunt: You highlight one of the problems with this situation. No retailer will just give us a refund because we say an appliance has broken down. They need to have their engineer or the manufacturer’s engineer check it out first. This is reasonable. As you point out though, with most of our white goods appliances we don’t have time to wait around and let this drawn out process happen.

    In your case though, as you have a Hotpoint appliance, you can get the Hotpoint engineer to repair it for £104.97 which includes parts and labour – So you don’t need to buy a new fridge!

    Either they will repair it for the £104.97, or they will say it’s not worth repairing (if by any chance it’s something serious). If they repair it, for £104.97 you can put in a claim to Currys for compensation of the cost of the repair under the Sale of Goods Act by claiming it hasn’t lasted a reasonable amount of time.

    If the Hotpoint engineer said it wasn’t repairing of course you’d have definite proof that it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time to take to Currys.

    The important thing to remember is that it is the retailer who sold it to you that’s responsible for compensation and not the manufacturer although some manufacturers may occasionally offer to replace appliances or do a free repair.

    If you decide to buy a new fridge immediately you would need to get Hotpoint or the Currys engineer out to look at the old one as soon as possible but they may well find out it’s easily fixable and you didn’t need a new one after all.

  27. On your last comment about the lesson being to buy an extended guarantee. That’s one way of dealing with this problem, but you will pay a lot of money out over the years, thousands probably. All to cover appliances in the first 5 years when they shouldn’t be suffering serious breakdowns anyway, and even if they do the retailers are often responsible for compensating us for it.

    The trouble is it’s inconvenient and often hard work to get this compensation so the majority of people never pursue it and will even pay out extra money for the largely unnecessary cover. I understand why so many people do it for an easier life but we should never need to insure all our many products for the first 5 years, they should be good enough quality to last at least 5 years. All consumer groups including Which? advise it’s bad value for money.

  28. I have one of these RSH1 samsung fridge freezers, nearly 3 years old, two days ago it started making a noise like a fan was catching on something, it has now stopped, but so has my water dispenser and ice maker, I have phoned samsung and they said a local guy will come by soon and do some safety wiring check, is these two problems conected?

  29. Sparky: No. Is it one of these? Samsung RS21 and RS60 range fridge freezers recall: Potential fire risk

    Also, the symptoms you describe are commonly caused by ice forming around the fan which pumps the cold air round. If it’s now stopped it could be because the fan is completely encased in ice and stopped running.

    It’s been a problem with Samsung frost free fridge freezers for a long time.

  30. avatar Paul Turpin says:

    Have read the exchange with interest and feel a lot more confident about my consumer rights. I have a £700.00 Whirlpool washing machine which screams like a banshee on spin – something is on its way out after only 15 months use, I am ready to tackle the Retailer but guess what – neither Whirlpool who supplied it nor Domestic and General who I paid for it will own up to being the Retailer – so just wondering if anyone got similar issue/solution

  31. Hello Paul: That’s a lot of money for a Whirlpool. They are supposed to be a budget brand in the UK.

    I’m assuming your situation is that your new machine was supplied to replace a previous one that was beyond economical repair and covered under Domestic & General’s insurance policy? I would assume whoever supplied it, and received your money is the one you have the contract with. It’s less clear than a normal purchase but someone must have sold it to you. Please let us know how you get on with this.

  32. Whirlpool –
    I have a whirlpool AWOD 6727

    I have had it for 14 months it began screaming and banging and the bearings have gone on the drum = it gave me an electric shock. Guess what Neither Whirlpool or Comet want to know – quoting YOU SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT EXTRA WARRANTY. Comet offered to come and look at it they wanted to charge me for the call out and then go away write a report and decide who was to blame – how long would all that take. I called them on Thursday and they could not come till tuesday and then go away and write the report. I meanwhile have NO WASHING MACHINE. I have written and emailed to the Chief Executive of COMET and am awaiting a reply.

  33. R Wright: Apologies for not replying sooner.

    Saying that you should have bought an extended warranty looks a bit disingenuous. By purchasing an extended warranty you absolve them of most Sale of Goods responsibilities because by paying for extra cover any Sale of Goods claims can be just dealt with by the insurance company instead of them. To make matters worse if they are an authorised repair dealer for the insurance company they will even get paid for sorting out the problem they are obliged under consumer law to compensate you for. No wonder they love the extended warranties.

    Having said that, it could be argued that taking out this cover does offer some useful protection against this sort of situation because as you are finding, claiming against the retailer for a product that hasn’t lasted a reasonable time is a hassle to say the least, which is why the vast majority of legitimate claims are never made, or if made never followed up.

    It’s a bit of a cheek for a retailer to say you need to take out extra insurance (which they profit from), so that if it turns out they’ve sold you a rubbish product you don’t have to fight them to get compensated and they don’t have to lose out financially by compensating you.

    Having said that –

    When a customer has a broken down appliance, which they feel hasn’t lasted a reasonable time and is therefore covered under the Sale of Goods Act they naturally complain to the retailer. However, it’s quite legitimate for the retailer to not immediately just accept the complaint and compensate them. They have a right to send someone out to inspect the appliance first. They also have a right to charge the customer if it turns out not to be a valid case – although clearly there is a lot of room for dispute about how valid the case may be, and a retailer may dispute a case that a small claims court may validate.

    Example -

    A customer could complain that the bearings have gone, and the washing machine is making a horrible grinding noise, but the truth could be that the noise is coming from a small nail or screw left in a pocket and being ground by the impeller. There are numerous examples of faults a customer could be unaware are not really the fault of the appliance, some of which I highlight in this article – I don’t want my washing machine repaired – I want it exchanged

    A customer could complain after 20 months the washing machine has suffered a major breakdown and it should have lasted longer, but it could be the cheapest washing machine on the market and an engineer may call to the house and see the washing machine is in a bad state, been knocked about and is washing for an extended family of 10 people with mountains of washing piled up in the corner. In such a case (which does happen) they would argue the washing machine has lasted as long as you could reasonably expect for how much it cost and what it’s had to cope with, and they’d probably be right.

    So if we accept that in order for both parties to be sure of fair play the retailer will usually need to get an engineer to inspect the machine then the problem is that it’s all going to take time, and there’s the potential for dispute. In your case I would agree to the retailer coming out to inspect the machine and agree to pay their call out if it turns out to be something not covered as long as they agree that if the drum bearings have actually failed that this is unacceptable and you have a right for compensation under the Sale of Goods Act. If they dispute this fact from the start, what is the point of them inspecting the machine?

    If they do dispute this you have to decide if you accept that or not, and if not, your only options are to try and enlist a consumer group to help you deal with them, or take them to the small claims court for the cost of the repair or a refund (minus an appropriate amount for the use you’ve had from the machine so far), which can be done online, and should be relatively straight forward ( I want to claim compensation from the repair company or the washing machine seller )

    If you do this you have no guarantee you will win out but I’ve heard of many cases where people have received compensation or new products after 3 years and even 5. There seems to be a lack of actual cases to learn from on the Internet (I hope this article will eventually attract enough examples of successful or even failed cases, which we can all learn from).

    Unfortunately unless something changes this is the way things are. Whilst this is the case some consumers will prefer to just buy an extended warranty to cover the risk. My personal preference is to use the money an extended warranty costs to buy a better appliance in the first place, preferably one with a longer guarantee, but I accept this isn’t necessarily the best option for everyone. I just find it depressing to think that the people who need the protection of extended warranties the most (because they will be seriously affected by any future repair bills or early replacement costs) are the people who can often least afford to pay extra for virtually every product they buy to “insure” it and would save many thousands of pounds over their lifetime if they didn’t have to fork out for them.

    A high quality retailer is likely to be far more mindful of their hard won reputation and more likely to deal favourably with Sale of Goods claims. Retailers trading not so much on reputation but on price, and big volume sales are more likely to be obstructive in the face of such claims.

  34. avatar Ken Gorman says:

    Re my posting of 8th. Jan. 2010 re faulty kitchen unit doors, I am pleased to report a successful conclusion. A date was fixed for the Small Claims court hearing, but it seemed sensible to consider the local arbitration offered, especially as the judge’s comments implied it would be unwise not to! This can only happen if all parties agree, which took some time to establish. Because of this arrangement, the court hearing was put back until 30th. July.

    Meanwhile I had been exchanging letters mainly with the retailer’s owners’ solicitors, who clearly wrote their letters without bothering to read the facts of the case first (for instance that we had already arranged to have replacement unit doors fitted). No doubt they would be charging high fees to their clients for these letters. One such letter showed them in such a bad light, that I forwarded it to the court in order to strengthen my case. The solicitors were quite miffed that I had forwarded a “Without Prejudice” letter, but I pointed out I was just an ordinary member of the public and could not get involved in any legal arguments. I received no more letters from them.

    Re the arbitration, which would have involved myself and three other parties being available at the same time on the phone, it was decided it was too complicated to organise, and the court hearing was confirmed. As 30th. July approached, the manufacturers’ solicitors offered £1300 in settlement, £700 from themselves, £300 from the wholesalers, and £300 from the retailers’ owners. This was about £150 more than I would have claimed in an early settlement, and covered the full cost of replacement with doors of a similar cost, but in our view, of better quality.

    Finally, on 4th. August, the last two cheques arrived. I hope this encourages others to make claims against suppliers of goods which become unreasonably faulty.

  35. Excellent Ken, many thanks for the update. Your case, although not related to white goods is a perfect example of using the sale of goods act to get compensation even for a much more serious amount than a washing machine and after 4 years.

    It’s also a great example of how you usually have to fight for your rights, and be patient. We all have rights under the sale of goods act, but as in civil law, having the right doesn’t automatically get us justice if the other side doesn’t comply.

    The lesson is that if you genuinely believe you are in the right, and don’t fall at all the hurdles they throw in front of you, then you can get compensation in the end. You need a just case though. The retailers often won’t comply, not necessarily because they believe they are in the right – but often because they know if they just accept all claims it will cost them a fortune.

    If anyone else has examples of where they’ve fought for compensation or recompense please post them, the more the better. Even cases that failed can help us get a handle on this complex issue.

  36. Hi

    i am looking for some advice, i purchased a white samsung tv from a company called beyond televisions, the tv cost £750 and broke down after just 6 months, Beyond did get someone out to take the tv out and repair it but now the tv is showing the exact same fault.

    i contacted beyond who have told me that the tv is now over the 1 year warranty and they can’t help me now. can you please give me some advice as i am very angry at this. for a brand new tv to give 2 exactly the same faults within 14 months is not acceptible

    Please help

    Chris

  37. avatar Ken Gorman says:

    Dear Chris,
    Your comment was passed on to me, so here is my reply:
    Firstly, I need to explain I am not legally qualified, but I am happy to give you my opinion. Secondly, it is vital that you phone Trading Standards at 0845-404-0506. The advisors there are authorised by the Office of Fair Trading. I had to phone them myself recently after our £200 Samsung washing machine basically died after 2 and a half year

    In my personal view, you would need to remind the retailer (who is responsible to you in this case) that even under EU law we have a minimum 2-year cover, and that in any case, since the original fault has not been cured, this failure extends their claimed 1-year cover until the repair is permanent (within the 6 years).
    (Please ask Trading Standards if they agree with this!) I would ask T.S. how often the same fault has to occur before you could claim a new replacement or refund.

    T.S. may give you advice which means that if the retailer does not agree to comply with their ruling, you would have to take them to the Small Claims Court. As a Limited company has to be represented in the Small Claims Court by a solicitor, and their solicitors would be writing letters to you, it becomes very expensive for them to defend the case, with the risk of additional costs being awarded to you, so they would not normally defend the case in court, but would settle shortly before the case was due to be heard. Retailers assume that you would not ‘go all the way’, because of the hassle involved, but it is important for consumers to take them on until retailers generally get the message. Even the threat of taking them to court may be enough for some retailers, especially in the current economic climate. If, after advice, it turns out that you feel you have to return the TV to the retailer for a refund or replacement with another make, and they refuse, and you buy a replacement somewhere else, you would then claim all the costs through the court.

    Also, you should be able to obtain 30 minutes free advice on the matter from any solicitor, I understand, but check first! As using the Small Claims Court may put you off, you can always phone me at 01253-899742 for info about my experience. Please obtain all the leaflets from the court, which will freely be posted to you if you ask your local court.

    Hope this helps,
    Ken Gorman

  38. Hi Chris: When they said they can’t help you now as it’s out of guarantee they really meant they can’t help you now without inconvenience and cost to themselves. I sympathise with retailers caught in the middle of poor quality products and consumers but as they are profiting from selling these products the government has decided to make them responsible. That way if certain products cost them a lot of money because of extended claims under the sale of goods act they will stop selling them or pressure manufacturers to make them more reliable.

    Unfortunately they do have responsibilities under the sale of goods act and you can claim compensation up to 6 years after purchase in the UK. By claim though I mean try to claim.

    As my article states though, this in no way means you have a 6 year guarantee (5 in Scotland) covering all faults, it just means consumers can make a claim under the sale of goods act up to 6 years but the claim could be rejected by the courts if it isn’t deemed valid. As Ken says, you need to get the advice of Trading Standards and if they say you have a case confront the shop with it. If they still refuse to do anything you have to take them to the small claims court or at least threaten to.

    These “rights” are in no way clear cut, and few if any retailers will willingly give them to us. They have to be fought for either by being insistent, speaking to managers, writing to head office or taking them to the small claims court. I want to claim compensation from the repair company or the washing machine seller

  39. This has been very helpful. I have a Servis washer/dryer bought in July 2007 and the dryer’s mucking about and not working properly right now. I’m going to get a guy out to tell me how much it will cost me to get it fixed but I’m dreading it being loadsa’ money as it cost me £329 then.
    If it turns out to be a large quote would you advise I go back to the seller-an online site ?
    Many Thanks for any help.
    Lynda~

  40. Hello Lynda: If a washing machine breaks down after about 3 and a half years it’s not necessarily an issue that you could get compensation for. The Sale of goods act doesn’t say products should not break down within the first 5 or 6 years, only that they should last a reasonable time and be fit for the purpose.

    Occasional breakdowns of a highly mechanical appliance are par for the course so it would depend entirely on what had gone wrong and if it was related in any way to “fair wear and tear” although this would depend on the type of use it’s had.

    I would say if a major fault has occurred that makes the washing machine unrepairable (or beyond economical repair) then you should have a case for claiming it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time. In such case you would need to claim against the retailer.

  41. Thankyou for your reply. I think it’s a part in the dryer that’s gone as the top of the machine gets hot but heat doesn’t reach the drum. I guess it will come down to fair wear ‘n’ tear which is what I was thinking, even though it only gets used once a week and not even that in warmer months !!
    Cheers, Lynda~

  42. Hello.
    I am looking for some advice. I bought a Bosch Frost Free Fridge Freezer in November 2008 it came with the 2 year guarantee. The appliance overheated at the weekend, freezer totally defrosed and fridge overheated, have had to throw everything out and turn off the appliance. When I rang Bosch they said my guarantee had ran out and I could get it fixed if I took out a repair plan. I told them that this was not acceptable and they said sorry you will have to take out a repair plan.
    Any suggestions.

    Frances

  43. Sorry for not replying sooner Frances: It’s probably too late now ( as you are likely to have had to do something quite quickly with a failed fridge freezer). Whether you have a claim depends very much on what the fault is, and unfortunately this means you have to get an engineer to look at it to find out. No one is going to do anything until they know exactly what has gone wrong. It could turn out to be something fairly minor which you are happy to have fixed.

    If it’s a major fault that requires a lot of money to fix or even isn’t worth repairing that’s when your statutory consumer rights should kick in and you would need to take it up with the retailer if you think it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time.

    By lasting a reasonable time I believe they mean if it’s completely failed and needs replacing at an unreasonably short time or suffered a serious fault in an unreasonably short time rather than it broke down as some failures can be minor or even related to how they’ve been used.

  44. This web page has been a very useful and interesting
    What I would like to know is
    Do you need the original receipt of purchase? Or can you use a copy?
    For example if I keep all of my receipts I would be using them as a sofa
    Could I in fact make a copy and keep it on my pc?

    Also I have sky equipment and with this I have a warinty cover that I pay £5 a month for ( to a third party provider ) they have said I needed this because its out of the 12 month manufacturers warinty. If I’m paying B Sky B for the use of there product and after the 2 years manufactures warinty. Can I get a re placement from sky under the sales of good act? And could I also claim my money back from the third part warinty provider because I didn’t need there service anyway?

  45. Trevor: You need proof of purchase, which could be a bank or credit card statement or a copy of the receipt. The copy would have verifiable information on it.

    The sale of goods act only makes the original seller of products liable where liability can be shown. A third party warranty is a separate service and would also be covered under the sale of goods act under the providing services section in that it must be fit for its purpose. The company you bought it from would be liable if you could show it wasn’t fit for its purpose.

  46. avatar Mr Dobalina says:

    Hi there,

    Very informative website…which sadly is very relevant to us now.

    Our problem is the bearings in our washing machine have gone and the entire drum unit requires replacing. The service people have quoted £300 (including parts and labour and VAT) to fix the issue.

    This is where our problems begin. We initially had a 2 year warranty that came with the machine and the failure happened 2 years 4 months after we moved in (meaning the 2 year warranty period was over). Whirlpool pointed us back to Barratt Homes (as the washing machine was provided with the house when we bought it in Dec 2008). However, not totally unexpected, Barratts Homes couldnt care less, they just said the warranty period was over so too bad!

    I mentioned to them the sales of goods act and that we believe we are covered for such a major machanical fault that has rendered the machine unusable but they couldnt care less! When I spoke to the customer service person I asked her who she had sought advice from on Barratt homes legal responsibilities, she said it was her own opinion that we werent covered! Her letter in reply to our complaint also specifically did NOT make mention of the Sales of Goods Act either!

    I have already told them that as the machine came with a four bed family home that it wouldnt be unreasonable to expect the washing machine to be fit for purpose (ie. able to take the pressures of washing for a modern nuclear family of 2.4 people (the .4 is the cat:). Ive also told them that it wouldnt not be unreasonable to expect the washing machine to last longer than 2.4 years before such a major catastrophic fault had occured. OK, I could accept this happening towards the end of year 4 or happening in year five…but not 2 years and 4 months after taking ownership of the machine!

    So, any idea what our next step would be? If they continue to ignore our pleadings do I just get the thing fixed and then take them to the small claims court to recover our costs? Im off the mind to ask the judge to refund us the £250k we paid for the house…after all, the washing machine came with a free house! :)

    Regards

    Mr Bob Dobalina

  47. avatar Mr Dobalina says:

    Got a reply from barratts just before 6pm.

    Some guy called Chris Carty advised the following after I asked fir thus issue to be escalated;

    “I have received a copy of your e-mail of today’s date regarding the washing machine and dishwasher at your home. I confirm I have consulted our Head of Legal Services. He advises that whilst it is correct that the time limit for bringing a claim under the Sale of Goods Act is 6 years from purchase this does not mean that all goods must last six years. We are satisfied that the goods supplied were of sufficient durability for their intended use and that accordingly you have no basis for a claim against us in this instance.
    I regret that I cannot be of any further assistance in this matter.”

    So, any advice on how one forces the issue with barratts and get them to take responsibility for the dead washing machine?

    Regards

    Bob

  48. Mr Dobalina: Thanks for sharing your experience. You have found the same attitude that most people find, which is basically intransigence. Many companies appear to totally disagree with this aspect of the sale of goods act and don’t see why they should be liable. I do have some sympathy with them on that. It must be a real pain to be expected to be liable for something you sold (and possibly made just a small profit on) over 2 years or more ago when it not remotely your fault that it’s now scrap because you didn’t make it. But the government has made them responsible so they have to deal with it.

    In theory this obligation should improve the quality of products as retailers realise it’s more trouble than it’s worth to sell products that don’t last a fair time. The government presumably think that retailers should take responsibility for the quality of the products they sell us to make profit. At the end of the day if a product is rubbish it’s totally the fault of the manufacturer but we didn’t buy it from the manufacturer we bought it from a retailer who profited from selling it to us and we bought it from them in good faith expecting it to do what it’s supposed to and last a reasonable amount of time. They seem to forget it’s also designed to protect every one of them and their families too when they end up with an expensive product that is scrap after only a few years.

    They are right in that products are not expected to never break down within the 6 years (5 in Scotland) or even necessarily last 6 years, it depends on what product it is, how much it cost and how it has been used. This is also pointed out in my article. The sale of goods act implicitly says it must be fit for its purpose and must last a reasonable time when taking all the cost/usage into consideration. The stumbling block is that the word “reasonable” is totally subjective.

    Basically I don’t think 2 years and 4 months is anywhere near a reasonable time for a major white goods appliance to last before it needs throwing on the rubbish tip helping to destroy our environment and having to be replaced. If the replacement lasted a similarly short time then accepting that as OK means people are potentially expected to scrap a large appliance and buy a new one every two or three years for the rest of their lives, which is totally unnaceptable on any level.

    Clearly you also agree it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time, but the problem is that many companies (the majority I fear) simply refuse to take the hit for it and defiantly reject the customer’s consumer rights. If companies sell rubbish products and have to recompense customers when they don’t last a reasonable time they would have to start selling better quality products, but they currently get away with ignoring the sale of goods act so much that it hardly affects them.

    Very few people will stick to their guns and refuse to accept that they have no claim. This, coupled with the fact they are in no way guaranteed to win a claim probably puts off 99% of people with a valid claim. Consumer rights are troublesome to enforce if the company refuses to do anything because you have no option but to take them to the small claims court. Most people can’t be bothered so companies know they are safe enough just digging their heels in.

    Ultimately no one can tell you with certainty that a small claims court judge would agree with you that 2 years 4 months is an unreasonably short time so there’s no guarantee you would win. However, the entire point of the small claims court is to assist the public in fighting big intransigent companies and redress the balance a little. The entire procedure should be fairly straight forward, relatively cheap, with little financial risk and can even be done online.

    If you did win the case though they can take off the amount of time you have had use of the washing machine so if the average life of a washing machine is (tragically) only about 7 years these days then if you’ve had 2 years 4 months use you’ve had roughly just over 30% of the life of one so in theory should be entitled to a refund of around 70%.

    Ultimately only the stubborn and highly principled are likely to pursue this sort of thing although simply informing them you have taken steps to make a small claim in the courts and maybe sending them the link (below) could persuade them to offer something…

    My opinion is not official. I’m not qualified in consumer issues. I have merely made it my business to study consumer issues and law as part of my job and as part of my free advice on this blog and Washerhelp.co.uk. For official help please try -

    Citizens Advice | Money claim online

  49. my dishwasher has being playing up and had a quote to fix it £140 but its guarantee has run out 4 month sago so i throw out my receipt have i got any chance of getting anything back from the retailer

  50. You don’t need a receipt, only some proof of purchase such as a credit or bank card statement, though not having a receipt further complicates an already difficult matter. If the guarantee ran out 4 months ago the retailer and manufacturer are unlikely to help. They will both tell you that it is now out of guarantee and all repairs are chargeable.

    If you believe the appliance has not lasted a reasonable time you can pursue the retailer using the Sale of Good Act but they will fight it. Use the links in my last comment to try and get assistance.

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