Claiming compensation from a retailer or repairer

Consumer-law The Consumer Rights Act 2015 allows us to attempt to claim compensation from repairers or retailers under certain conditions. This includes bad or negligent repairs as well as faulty or poor quality goods.

Before taking a trader or repairer to court

If a repairer is a member of any trade association you should try raising the issue with them first. Trade associations usually have certain standards and practices that the trader has promised to adhere to. If they haven’t, the trade association may be in a position to influence and advise them to put things right.

If they are not a member of a trade association, or you get nowhere with them and still believe you have a case, then you can make a claim in the small claims court as long as it’s for £10,000 or less (£5,000 or less for personal injury or housing disrepair).

Even so you need to have written to the company or trader first giving a specific time to correct any fault. There is also an option of using the Alternative Dispute Resolution service (which is binding but does not involve legal action).

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There is plenty of help available from consumer groups, and from the leaflets and brochures listed below. Remember, the small claims court was set up to make it pretty easy and relatively risk free for consumers to take on companies they have a dispute with. So it shouldn’t be too daunting.

Minimum 2 Year Guarantee on Appliances

Appliances at John Lewis

Which? members can phone a consumer helpline

You can research Which? Consumer Rights for expert advice (What do I get when I take a trial?) immediately (not just about washing machines) and benefit from their highly respected opinions and experience of consumer issues. Also receive the Which? magazine as part of 1 trial and speak directly to a consumer expert about your issues.

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24 thoughts on “Claiming compensation from a retailer or repairer”

  1. Hi, I bought a new build property in October 2020 and the fridge freezer stopped working February 2023. The warranty was expired and we were advised to take out the repair and care with domestic and general. They came out a number of times and attempted to fix it once, that failed. They’ve stated its unsafe and not repairable.

    I can’t believe a fridge freezer of 2 years is not working and can’t be fixed! It’s cost is around £750/800.

    I’ve been back and to between the newbuild company and the manufacturer and I’m getting nowhere. When we moved into the property we git given the manuals and it stated we had 1 year warranty. We started havingbissues with the fridge freezer making loud cracking noises (apparently it’s been common when I’ve queried with others) and I raised this with Redrow August 2022 as it’s integrated and I was concerned there was a fitting issue. They didn’t send anyone out and inhad to chase them and months went by. I’ve just found out that it actually had a 2 year warranty that they hadn’t informed us and if they had communicated this to us or dealt with our raised issue in time, then it would have been in warranty and I could have dealt with the manufacturer.

    Is there anything I can do? Honestly I want a replacement.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Jennie. Forget the manufacturer, if they have refused to help (which I’m sure you won’t forget when deciding which brand to purchase in the future) this is because they have no obligation in consumer law other than to honour the guarantee that came with the appliance.

      You are right when you say that it is totally acceptable for a white goods appliance costing £800 to only last two years. It has clearly not lasted anywhere near a reasonable time. However, the only people responsible in UK consumer law, are the people that you bought it from. This is usually a retailer. However, if you bought a new house, and the appliances came with the house, then you bought the appliances from whomever you bought the house from. So they are the retailer, and they are responsible for your rights under the consumer rights act 2015.

      Over the years, I have seen many cases where people have had problems with builders when appliances that came with the house breached the consumer rights act 2015. It seems that either the builders genuinely do not think they have any obligations, or they just don’t want to comply.

      Read up on the consumer rights act here appliance out of guarantee doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pay and Consumer rights act 2015 for appliances

      You may need to get official consumer assistance from somewhere like Which? or citizens advice.

  2. Hi, we’ve just had an £800 dishwasher break down with multiple faults (leaking, not heating water, not draining etc…) after 4.5 years of standard use in a 4 person family. Would it be reasonable to approach the retailer for a claim on the product?

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Daniel. This a difficult one. The consumer rights act 2015 does not at any point say that a product should never break down. When it refers to the six years that we have to claim for any breaches (five in Scotland), it doesn’t mean that we have a six year guarantee. So it is perfectly acceptable and normal for certain appliances that work very hard, and very physically – and potentially every single day – to break down. So something like this would depend on whether it can be seen as unreasonable to have broken down.

      Normally after 4 1/2 years I would say this is not highly unusual, or unacceptable on a dishwasher (or a washing machine etc.). What may make a difference though, is if the faults that have occurred are extremely serious, and particuarly if they render the appliance beyond economical repair.

      So if faults have occurred that make the appliance scrap because it’s not worth repairing, then you have a case that you paid over £800 for an appliance that has only lasted 4 1/2 years. So, unless it had been used in a commercial environment, you could argue that this is in no way a reasonable amount of time for an appliance that costs so much money.

      You should easily expect 10 years from a decent quality dishwasher, even a relatively cheap one can last that long. In this scenario, you would be claiming that the appliance has only lasted half as long as expected. So if this claim was accepted then you would be entitled to half of the money back because you have already enjoyed half of the life.

      If the fault turned out to be relatively routine, then it might be difficult to claim that is totally unreasonable. Unfortunately, there are no real guidelines or charts to follow at all. The consumer rights act only talks about subjective phrases like “reasonable time”, which are often easy to challenge.

      So at the end of the day, I would say that it all depends on exactly what has gone wrong, and how much it is going to cost to put right.

  3. Angela Charalambides

    Hi, we bought a dishwasher from John Lewis Nov 2019 which had a 3 year guarantee. The machine stopped working after 3.5 years and an engineer attended via an insurance we took out. He advised the motor had been leaking for quite some time and needed to be replaced along with the pcb, wiring harness, heater and wiring diagram. They rendered the machine a write off, beyond economical repair. They would not give a replacement as the insurance doesn’t cover the extent of repair costs on a first visit. I’ve been in touch with John Lewis who have requested an engineers report – however the insurers D&G and the repairers for a written report and they are both advising they are unable to produce this as the details are logged through their system only. I have received an email from the repairers detailing all the above but Lewis’s won’t accept this. Do I have a claim for the dishwasher only lasting 3.5 years? Which is not a reasonable time? The dishwasher cost was £359.00 and is an Electrolux/John Lewis brand.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Angela. I don’t think a retailer is being reasonable if they say they won’t accept an email from the repair or insurance company. I would definitely challenge them on that. If they persist, you will need to enlist the help of a consumer rights body like Which? or

      Essentially they sold you a washing machine that has only lasted 3 years, which is well short of a reasonably expected lifespan (unless it’s been heavily used for a large family for example). So under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 it is not of sufficient quality, and has not lasted a reasonable time. That breaches 2 of the rights listed.

      To be honest though, the list of parts required does seem ludicrously high, so I’m wondering if JL are suspicious of that. But if water has leaked onto the motor (which is what I assume you meant, as a motor can’t leak) and it’s all shorted out causing a lot of damage it would be a big job.

      The other thing I don’t understand is how an insurance or guarantee can decide something is too expensive and refuse to repair or otherwise comensate.

      1. Angela Charalambides

        Hi Andy,
        Thank you so much for your reply – John Lewis have now offered £125.00 compensation (after a lot of negotiating/calls to them). Although this is better than nothing, I still feel very out of pocket as the machine we have has actually gone up in price by £90.00 – therefore to replace will cost another £324.00 including compensation (Saving £35.00) on a new machine)
        Re the insurance – this was misleading, we were under the impression that it was repair or replace when we took it out via phone call. However, when reading the paperwork sent via email it does state that if the machine needs to be replaced on a first breakdown they would cancel the insurance and reimberse any payments (we didn’t check this until after the event).

  4. High spec telly has stopped working after 4 years. John Lewis have said its not repairable. Purchased it because of the spec and because it was expected to last 11-16 years. John Lewis have offered half the purchase price as compensation.

    If it has lasted only a third of its expected life time is there an argument that it was of unsatisfactory quality to begin with?

    John Lewis aren’t willing to engage in negotiations.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Melanee. John Lewis are saying that it’s expected lifespan is eight years. This is a white goods help site, so I don’t have any information as to what the expected lifespan of a modern TV is. Although, eight years doesn’t seem horrendously bad. Maybe ask yourself if it had lasted for eight years trouble-free, and this had happened, would you be more inclined to accept it?

      A lot also depends on the price you paid, although as with many things these days, a higher price does not in any way mean a higher quality product. In most cases, it just means that you have paid extra for higher specifications and features. If it wasn’t extremely expensive, then the difference in potential compensation between 8 years and say 10 years is unlikely to be enough to justify the stress and hassle in fighting for it. I wouldn’t be surprised if the average life expectancy of a modern TV is around eight years. The average life expectancy of a washing machine has fallen to 7 years (and I remember when it used to be between 10 and 15 years). To challenge this you would need to find evidence to give to John Lewis that the average life expectancy is longer than that.

  5. I’ve just had problems with British gas home care insurance! Leaking toilet phone Monday morning they came out Tuesday said they couldn’t fix it as screws were rusty. Wednesday phoned them 8-29am said they would send someone out between 8-30am and 12midnight,didn’t turn up went on chat with 3different people said nt insured as they could not get screws out 9-30 today ( Thursday) phoned again Gareth said insured then declin come on phone said I wasn’t ( put phone down on me 9-50) I phoned again spoke to Tanya said insured booked someone to come check over! I then went on chat spoke with Kathryn wanted to know y the phone was put down on me ! I also mentioned I had got someone coming 2day she replied no Tanya should not have booked me in! Another day wasted. She was quite rude said we will not put it in !! 4 days stuck in house, ruined carpet and they said I need to buy more modern toilet and pay for plumber to put it in 40years with insurance so I’ve cancelled it told got to pay £70 as dyno rod been done work/ they didn’t do any work! Didn’t have to pay £70 offered £20 compensation. Did not take I said £120 agreed wish I hadn’t as its going to cost more than that to get sorted + time off work .

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Diane. This sounds too complicated to be able to just give accurate advice. The best thing you can do is get in touch with someone like Citizens Advice or Resolver. Although there is every chance they will also not be able to help much. The big problem here is that you have repair cover, they have sent someone out to repair it, but they have said that it cannot be repaired. So you would have to discredit their opinion somehow.

      If they genuinely cannot get to the parts to repair it then they have a point. I would have thought that you could just carefully drill out the screws, but having said that it could be very difficult. This is because the surrounding parts are made of porcelain that could easily break.

      There is a chance that the people who came out to fix it just used the rusty screws as an excuse not to do the work because it is difficult. But it’s also perfectly possible that when some screws have properly rusted in enough, they will not come out without breaking the toilet basin. As I said, this is a difficult one to advise about. I would be tempted to try to find a local plumber who would be willing to try and get the screws out.

      Also I’m not sure exactly what your insurance covers although I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if there are so many restrictions and exclusions that it is mostly useless. I personally would never take out such an insurance that supposedly covers the whole house. It’s highly unlikely to prove good value for money in the end.

      I would also carefully read the terms and conditions to find out if they are justified in saying that they cannot repair it. If the screws that are rusted in all the ones holding the toilet in place so the floorboards them if they cannot drill them out without damaging the toilet bowl they can still drill them out and I would have thought that a proper insurance would cover a replacement bowl if it was necessary.

  6. I have spoken to local plumber, said it will come out OK! Coming 2mo sort things out for me! I’m absolutely disgusted with what I have put up with British gas and their workers. I’m still going to write a note to them saying how appalled I am the way I was spoken to was shocking

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