Engineer can’t come for over a week – is this acceptable?

Calendar If your appliance is under guarantee, or some kind of extended warranty, and they can’t send a repair engineer out for over a week, is that acceptable?

Repairs are covered under the supply of services section of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (formally the sale of goods act) and have to be carried out within a “reasonable time”. If we are free to choose our own repairer we wouldn’t have to wait that long. We would just find someone else who can do it quicker. But with appliances under a guarantee, or covered by maintenance contracts and extended warranties, we are captive customers.

Many people are unaware that the speed of service received through a manufacturer’s guarantee or an extended warranty or guarantee can be slow. Big national companies or manufacturers often can’t fit you in for several days, or worse in busy periods. They don’t do it on purpose.

They just usually take on big work loads or don’t have the budget for enough engineers, and they don’t have the same commercial worries about people not using them if they don’t come quickly enough. Many engineers or repair companies working sub contract for manufacturers or warranty companies are also working on very small margins.

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They don’t get paid much per job, and often cover very large areas. This affects the level of service they can give. For example, they may only come to your area every Wednesday. So if they need to return with a spare part – there can be a weeks delay each time.

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If you have an appliance under the manufacturers initial guarantee you cannot go elsewhere. But with extended warranties it may be worth checking the small print to see if you can use a local independent repair company and claim the costs back (probably rare these days though) continued below...

Do they have a service level pledge?

Also check the small print for any promises from the repair policy that an engineer will visit within so many days. The relevant consumer rights here are that, service work must be “finished in a reasonable time”. You may argue that waiting for a week, without a washing machine or a freezer (if they are unusable) is unreasonable.

The chances are they won’t agree with your definition of reasonable but everything depends on individual circumstances. For example if you just paid over £1000 for a fridge freezer and it broke down within days it’s surely unreasonable for you to have to wait a week before anyone even looks at it – with no guarantee they won’t have to order parts and leave you waiting even longer.

If on the other hand it’s still working, but making a strange noise, or has some other minor issue, then it might not be so bad waiting a week. Cases need judging on their own merit using common sense. If you feel you have a strong case and the appliance is new you may try demanding a replacement instead. This may at least hurry them up a bit.

If under an extended warranty you are at their mercy, which is one of the disadvantages of them. If they give very bad service you can look into claiming compensation but would need to take advice from a consumer help group.

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7 thoughts on “Engineer can’t come for over a week – is this acceptable?”

  1. Sadly it is quite normal Mireille. If they have to order a part it can take a while. If by any chance the engineers aren’t local it can be compounded if they only cover your area on a particular day of the week. The warranties don’t usually have speedy repairs as their main selling point but if they do give any promises about how fast they will repair you can complain to them. Obviously if it was delayed even further you can try complaining and demanding they do something, they can sometimes write off difficult machines although you would most likely have to pay some of the cost of a new one if they did.

  2. Dear Andy, Im not sure if you can help, I have a breakdown insurance on my dishwasher and have waited over 2 months and its still not repaired, can I ask for a new one. They are not helpful, thank you

  3. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Jane. This is exactly the type of scenario that I describe in my article. Because you are on a breakdown insurance you can’t go anywhere else, there’s no competition, so there’s little incentive for them to give really fast service, which is difficult and expensive. Obviously you would think they would have the incentive to give such good service in order to encourage you to buy other breakdown insurances in the future but they are likely to be thinking that far ahead. It is difficult to imagine how something could take over 2 months although I presume they are blaming the Covid situation.

    The first thing I would do is get out all of the paperwork and carefully read all the terms and conditions. It is possible that they have something in there like a promise to repair within a certain time frame or what they will do if they cannot repair it. After that I would complaint them that 2 Months Is Way past a reasonable time to wait and it is looking like they cannot repair it. With these breakdown insurances if they can’t repair an appliance they usually write it off but many of them will only give a small amount towards a new one depending on the actual policy itself and how long you’ve had it so you could find yourself having to contribute to buying a new one.

  4. Hi Andy, hope you can help?
    I bought an American style refrigerator 20 months ago with Samsung. I waited three weeks for an engineer to be told the compressor was broken and now need to wait another three weeks for them to come. I have two young children and have nowhere to store milk etc my insurance won’t cover it because it’s under warranty and Samsung say that the engineers are busy but once its fixed I’ll be happy(yes, this was their customer service team response ‍♀️) but in meantime they can’t offer any other support. The engineer told me that he had never came across the compressor on a nearly new fridge going. Therefore, do you think that it’s reasonable for me to ask for a new fridge ? Can I argue that the time given to repair is not reasonable? Any suggestions on how I can get this quicker… fast food is draining my purse (I work long hours and have no time to shop every day)

  5. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Cherry. I would say on an absolutely critical appliance like a fridge and freezer 3 weeks is far too long to wait. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 they have to repair appliance in a reasonable time. However, I honestly don’t know if because of everything being upside down due to COVID they may be able to argue it’s not unreasonable under current circumstances.

    Having said that there is an argument that such an expensive appliance should not have suffered a major component failure after 20 months. The rights to a reasonably quick repair and to have been sold an appliance of reasonable quality etc are all under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which are only with the retailer. So you may want to try to complain to the retailer saying it not only hasn’t lasted a reasonable time without a major part failing but the manufacturer cannot repair it in a reasonable time so you nee a replacement. They would be entitled to knock off a proportion of the compensation to account for the fact you have enjoyed 20 months.

  6. Hi,
    I bought a washing machine (Hoover) in November 2021. It broke down at the end of February. Had an engineer visit within a reasonable time. However, now it seems the part required is out of stock and I’ve been given an estimated date of 29/04.
    For me live without a washer dryer for over a month is unreasonable in my opinion.
    Is there anything I can do to speed things up or make a claim?
    Many thanks,

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Yes, surely a month without a washing machine is unacceptably too long. The manufacturer is unlikely to do anything though. Their obligation is just to carry out repairs under warranty. If they can’t do that within a reasonable time you will probably have to complain to the retailer.

      The retailer will not be likely to be helpful either. But they are the ones that have to abide by the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which states repairs must be carried out within a reasonable time. If the washing machine is under 6 months old you probably have a stronger position.

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