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

  1. Karen fawthrop

    Excellent information regarding sale of goods act. Retailers are aware of it, but still refute it’s existence applies to them

  2. I bought a Bush cooker from argos just under 2 years ago 3 weeks after I got it argos fitted it the oven door lock feel out then 4 months later the heating element on the oven broke now its happened again but they are saying because I only had a 1 year warranty they won’t fix it for free again I need to pay £89 just for call out I am on benefits single mum with a 3 year old how can I get help

  3. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Deborah. The only redress you have is with the retailer that you bought it from. As far as I know Bush don’t actually make cookers. They are a brown goods manufacturer that used to make record players and radios etc. For some time now it’s been possible for any company to get white goods appliances manufactured by white goods manufacturer who will put their name on it instead of the original manufacturers. A lot of manufacturers have started to do this so you can buy washing machines for example from people like Russell Hobbs and Swan who famously made kettles. These products are called “badged” appliances because the real manufacturer simply puts someone else’s badge (logo) on it. They are also more commonly known these days as own label brands.

    Personally I totally dislike this practice although it is totally legal. It’s just that most people don’t have a clue that the manufacturer whose name is on the appliance does not make them, and does not know much about them, and is not usually too helpful when things go wrong. For an in-depth explanation of this practice read this article own label appliance brands -a full explanation

    I would expect the Bush cooker to be a budget cooker and therefore expectations need to be reduced accordingly, but even so if the same element has broken twice in two years I would say that it is not of sufficient quality. Even a budget appliance should not be expected to have broken down three times in such a short period of time unless by any chance it is being used for a very large family or in shared accommodation.

    Unfortunately you will find that Bush will most likely be totally uninterested in helping you now that it is out of its guarantee. They have no legal obligation. The only redress you have is with the retailer and you’ll have to argue that three breakdowns in two years with one of them being identical breakdown is just not acceptable so you are entitled to a free repair. You should definitely try this but in my experience virtually all retailers will just refuse to help. They only get in touch with the manufacturer or the company doing the repairs, and when they tell them that they won’t do it for free (because they don’t have to) they decide that they don’t want to pay out for the repair. However, in this case my understanding is that Argos may actually own Bush or at least have an exclusive relationship with them.

    Although we do have a lot of great consumer rights in theory, in practice very few of us actually get them because unless you are extremely persistent and cause a lot of trouble, or get assistance from a consumer group to argue your case for you – or take them to the Small Claims Court they have all learnt that 99% of customers just give up. That saves them a lot of money. They don’t seem to care that it loses them a lot of customers though.

    You should find that this article has more information how to get a faulty washing machine exchanged . It is written about washing machines but of course as applicable to any white goods.

  4. Hi can i have some advice please, and to the extent of what i can claim from Argos, as i am writing this i have a Bush undercounter single oven cooker sat in my Kitchen doing nothing, i am in the process of renovating my whole house and am on the kitchen now we didn’t buy the kitchen from brand new we bought it of friends we know it’s like new we paid them £600 for the kitchen we had this cooker fitted and by the instructions it said to leave the cooker on for 30 mins on full for first use so i set the timer on the front and when it was finished i switched it off as the kitchen still needed odd jobs before the worktop was fitted i went to the one of the cupboards for some screws that i had put in there and noticed that there was a problem with the door after further examination of the door and the drawers both sides of this cooker i found that the coating on these doors had been melted back from the wood underneath i was shocked and contacted Argos who sent an Engineer in around 4 days which i was quite pleased with he tested the cooker and found that it had a fault the fan that cools the oven when it reaches temperature didn’t come on the temperature thermostat was broken this cooker was brand new out the box and a couple of days old i was so angry then Engineer asked if i wanted it repaired and i said no it may have further problems in the future, so, Argos contacted me to try sort this situation out they offered me a replacement cooker but not the same model although they’re still selling this same model he then offered me a refund and also £200 for the damage i said no you can take the cooker back but £200 will not be enough if i can’t get the same colour doors to replace them and don’t want odd looking doors we have just had this kitchen fitted so then he indicated that it may not be limited to £200 we don’t care about the money we just want it put right he said that he emailed me about it all but when i checked there was no email nothing i checked all my emails and Junk folders nothing so that was a lie, i spoke to him Friday 28-05-21 he said he would ring me Tuesday to discuss it further but hasn’t, can i claim for all new doors off Argos as this was there faulty goods i have done nothing wrong since Friday i have been to town to try match the doors up all over the internet and even tried to contact the company who built the new houses that this kitchen was fitted into but can’t track down where these doors come form i still very angry at what has happened and they expect me to stop what i am doing to sort out their mistake any advice would be very much appreciated

  5. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Tony. Under the consumer rights act 2015 it is the retailer that is ultimately responsible. So if you have a valid claim and the manufacturer is refusing to compensate properly you will have to go to the retailer, who are obliged by the consumer law to compensate you because they sold you a product that damaged your kitchen.

    You have a right to expect compensation for any expense or damage caused by a faulty appliance. This is known in legal terms as consequential damage. If they are replacing a faulty appliance they need to replace it with an equivalent or better. However, consumers also have an obligation to mitigate expenses. In other words we can’t just casually spend a lot of money and expect the retailer or manufacturer to pay. So they are only responsible to pay the minimum required to fix the problem. If it turns out that you cannot replace just the doors then that’s fair enough. If you show them evidence that exact and suitable replacement doors are not possible then you should be able to get them to pay the full amount. .

  6. Hello, I bought a Beko washing machine in Nov 2018 for £279 from Currys. Earlier this month it developed a knocking noise and the drum became loose. On removing the machine from under the counter half of a concrete block fell out of it underneath. It appeared that two bolts had sheared off and the metal reinforcing in the block had snapped. I have complained to Beko as only just over two and a half years old but as outside the two year warranty they are not interested. I raised the query with them as an official complaint as I felt that the machine wasn’t of merchantable quality for this to happen. I’d be interested to know your thoughts.
    Many thanks

  7. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Ian. If you had asked me this question 20 years ago I would have given you a completely different answer. Back then I was constantly enraged at how washing machines and other white goods appliances were nowhere near as well-made as in the past and didn’t last anywhere near as long. I started repairing them in 1976 and back then, right up until possibly the 1990s washing machines lasted at least 10 years, and commonly 15 to 20 years, with a small percentage lasting even longer. But over the last 20 years, especially as washing machine prices are in real terms just cheaper than ever I’ve come to accept that those days are gone for ever and we have had to trade substantially cheaper prices for substantially less longevity and repairability. No one asked us if that’s what we want but people to be fair voted with their wallets by constantly buying the cheaper appliances.

    On the face of it I would agree that your washing machine has not lasted a reasonable time and that you most probably have a reasonable complaint. However, complaining to the manufacturer, though usually worth a try, is often fruitless. It doesn’t matter how rubbish a washing machine is the only responsibility the manufacturer has is for safety issues and to honour the guarantee that they gave with the appliance. So although it is in their interest to keep customers satisfied they have no responsibility whatsoever once it has passed their guarantee (apart from any safety notices and issues).

    Your complaint is that the appliance is not of satisfactory quality and has not lasted anywhere near as long as expected. The only place you can complain to about this is the retailer. However, I can guarantee what they will say. They will say exactly the same as the manufacturer did. They will say that it is out of guarantee and there’s nothing they can do. They will probably advise you to complain to the manufacturer.

    But the consumer rights act 2015 states in law that the retailer is responsible. It’s just that to my knowledge none of them will accept any responsibility (unless forced to) once it is out of the manufacturer’s guarantee – especially if it is a fair distance past. But the 2015 consumer rights act states that we have up to 6 years to claim compensation (five in Scotland).

    As far as I’m aware the official expected lifespan of a washing machine is around seven years these days. But at the same time the average washing machine usage is supposed to be something ridiculous like 3 or 4 times a week. My personal opinion (and experience) is that most of the ordinary – and especially budget – washing machines are only designed to last 2 to 4 years if washing for a large family. And probably about seven or eight years if washing for just 1 or 2 people. They really are not designed to last very long any more and this is why they are so cheap.

    If you were successful in your complaint you should be entitled to either a free repair, or a refund of the equivalent percentage of how long it has lasted. So for example if something was expected to last 10 years and it lasted 5 you should be to claim 50% refund because you have already benefited from 50% of its life.

    Having said that, the cost of the appliance, and how it has been used need to be taken into consideration. In this regard the more expensive an appliance is the more likely a claim would succeed. If this was a Miele washing machine for example, that cost £1200, you would likely have a cast-iron case. But at £279, which in all truth is really cheap these days you need to look at how much it has cost per year and what kind of real value that represents. Again to give an example if you paid £300 for a washing machine and it lasted six years that’s just £50 a year, which to many people might be excellent value for money.

    The only thing I can suggest is reading a few more of my articles that are highly relevant, which I will link to below. This will give you a much better idea. Ultimately, and this is what retailers cynically rely on, we all have to decide how hard to fight and how much time-loss and stress we are prepared to endure in order to get our rights. My personal experience, from having very powerful and strong cases against companies is that by default they all try to fob us off. Most even train their frontline staff with erroneous information about customers rights. So when the first person we contact tells us there’s nothing they can do the chances are that’s what they genuinely believe, because that’s what they were told to say. This is why in the past we often got a far better result once we demanded to speak to a manager. Sadly these days it’s likely that even the managers will still try to fob us off.

    If we believe we have a good case obviously we need to contact the retailer’s first, but if they deny any responsibility we have to either keep insisting and fighting with them, elevating if possible up to a manager, or we have to get the help of a consumer rights organisation such as Citizens Advice or Which?

    So my advice is not particularly encouraging, but it is precisely the way I see it from all of my experience. Please see my related articles for an even broader picture and please let us know if you get any result –

  8. Vasantha Narayanswami

    I have just had my washer dryer repaired, yesterday, and today it caught fire. I have contacted the manufacturer and logged an incident.
    How much and what kind of compensation can I expect as I have had a relapse of a mental health disability as a result of the extreme stress caused. The complaint is lodged as poor workmanship by the repair engineer as the same error code came up, when the machine caught fire, as the one when it first broke down.

  9. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Vasantha. I’ve not come across anyone who wanted to claim compensation for anything more than reclaiming the actual costs of any damage and a new appliance. If you wanted to pursue “proper” compensation as in a financial settlement for stress and anxiety caused etc you would most likely need to sue them. I expect you’d be able to do it in the small claims court but you would probably need to get proper legal advice.

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