Consumer Rights Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances

The Sale of Goods Act has been replaced by The Consumer Rights Act 2015. The new act is designed to, “simplify, strengthen and modernise the law, giving you clearer shopping rights”. So in theory our rights should be even better than with the old Sale of Goods Act. However, some retailers are telling customers that their rights are less if they bought an appliance after the 1st of October 2015.

This implies they believe the new act gives consumers less rights. Consumer group Which? have a form on their site that allows you to compose a faulty goods complaint message to send to a retailer. Part of the form asks if you bought your appliance before, or after October 2015.

This implies there is some difference too. However, it’s possible that the difference is only to determine which legislation to quote to the retailer. I’m currently doing more research, and will keep updating this article as I find more information.

How is the Consumer Rights Act 2015 different?

The main points in the new Consumer Rights Act are that goods must be – of Satisfactory qualityFit for purpose & As described. We also still have up to six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five years in Scotland. So it sounds pretty much the same as the old Sale of Goods Act.

The main improvements are that we have additional rights early on after purchase, at below 30 days, and below 6 months (described below). However, there does seem to be at least one potentially negative difference. After 6 months have passed, the onus is now on us to prove that the appliance was faulty when it was delivered.

If your complaint is that after 3 years your appliance has broken down with a fault that has rendered it economically unrepairable, then proving that it was faulty when delivered sounds very difficult. If this was the case, then depending on how much it cost, how much it’s been used and under what conditions, you may still have a valid claim.

Under the old Sale of Goods Act we still had to prove that this was due to a fault when the product was purchased. So nothing should really have changed except potentially the retailer’s interpretations. Here is a quote from consumer group Which? on their old Sale of Goods Act page –

If your claim under the Sale of Goods Act ends up in court, you may have to prove that the fault was present when you bought the item and not, for example, something that was the result of normal wear and tear.   ”

This should still be applicable with the 2015 Consumer Rights Act. If for example you bought an appliance for £600, and after 18 months it is scrap because a fault developed unrelated to wear and tear – or misuse – and it was so expensive to repair that it is not worth repairing I would say you have a very valid claim under either the Sale of Goods Act or the Consumer Rights Act.

I would argue that a fault rendering the appliance unrepairable after only 18 months means that the part that failed was not of satisfactory quality and that should be covered by either of the consumer acts.

But what if the appliance had only cost £199? Well maybe 18 months for £199 isn’t so bad if it’s had heavy use? There are no actual rules. It’s what would be considered reasonable with all circumstances considered.

This is subjective. Likewise if an appliance was scrap after 3 years it might still reasonably be considered unacceptable on an appliance that cost £600 – but again, it’s subjective, and may need a small claims court judgement, or help from Which? or another consumer group to fight the case.

One thing is fairly sure, the retailer will almost always say there’s nothing they can do once it is out of the manufacturer’s guarantee. That is not true if you have a valid claim.

Is satisfactory quality still covered?

The consumer group Which? still list, “not of satisfactory quality” as one of the potential complaints in their template complaint letter even if you bought the appliance after October 2015.

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So, combined with the fact that we have up to 6 years to claim in the small claims court (5 in Scotland) this shows we can still claim if an appliance has not lasted a reasonable time due to unsatisfactory quality. Consider becoming a Which? member for full support and information on consumer rights.

Faulty within 30 days?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 has now given us the right for a full refund if an appliance is faulty, unfit for purpose or not as described within the first 30 days. You must reject the product quickly though, as soon as anything is noticed.

Faulty under 6 months old?

The onus is now 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.

You should 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. But after that they can be quite stubborn about it.

Any exchange policy is in addition to your rights and nothing to do with consumer rights at all. They might say they can’t exchange a faulty machine after this period, but if it is under 6 months old and has a fault you need to tell them they sold you a faulty product. That is in breach of the Consumer Rights Act.

This is of course assuming there is a genuine fault, and the issue isn’t related to poor installation, failure to use it properly, or misuse. If it’s only a minor fault though it may be more convenient to accept a repair. In fact they can insist on repairing it 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. Generally though if it was a serious fault they’d probably find it better to swap it.

You should also be entitled to a refund or partial refund if a repair or replacement would cause you significant inconvenience, or if a repair would take an unreasonably long amount of time. This may well be applicable if a repairman looks at the appliance and says he needs to order parts that might take weeks to arrive and be fitted. I would especially argue the significant inconvenience issue if you had a fridge or freezer break down within 6 months and they can not repair it for weeks.

Any reasonable person is likely to argue that being without one of these vital appliances for more than a few days is very inconvenient.

You might argue the same thing if a washing machine can’t be repaired within (say) a week and you have a young baby or large family to wash for. After 6 months though things are different.

There is no 6 year guarantee

We do not 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 faults that render an appliance uneconomical to repair within the 6 years should be potentially covered (depending on full circumstances).

It’s not necessarily 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 – especially if only washing for a retired couple for example.

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. The status quo affords a lot of extra profit to retailers and manufacturers. It effectively encourages them to produce or sell poor quality products. 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.

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. Related: consumers lost over £1bn last year through not using consumer rights | Money Helpline Saves Members Over a million pounds

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 and the Consumer Rights 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. 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 focusing on consumer rights for washing machine owners though most of the advice should be equally relevant for most appliances and even other products.

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 why being out of guarantee is often irrelevant

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.

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.

How The Sale of Goods Act leaves manufacturers with little or no consequences for making rubbish

Making only retailers responsible for poor quality products has major downsides. Everything I’ve read about consumer rights cases, and all of my personal experiences, have shown that the big retail companies usually deliberately stall us. They keep information from us and mislead us (proven by Which? research). They even keep their front line staff in the dark about our rights so that they genuinely believe we have no rights, and sound convincing when they fob us off. They realise most people will give up so they play the numbers game. They disingenuously refuse to help us when we have bought products that have been of very poor quality, have not lasted a reasonable time, or have had design faults and inherent faults.

They refuse to give refunds or replacements even when we quote our Consumer Rights or threaten to take them to the small claims court. They know this method weeds out most people. I’m not talking about when customers make unreasonable demands, which does happen, but when we have clear and obvious claims. If you have a genuine claim the chances are very remote that the retailer will admit it. Unless you make a serious fuss they have nothing to loose by stalling you until they get official small claims court papers through. Then they will likely pay up.

In my opinion the system does not work well at all. The retailers are not to blame for shoddy goods, yet they have to suffer losses of time and money sometimes years after selling a product and they presumably do not agree with it. Maybe this is why – Is the Consumer Rights Act 2015 too hard on retailers?.

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205 thoughts on “Consumer Rights Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances”

  1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Scott. I would agree it should last longer. The average life expectancy for a modern washing machine has sadly dropped to only around 7 years with many not lasting as long as that. If Samsung want to retain you as a customer they ought to offer to do something, but manufacturer’s seldom seem to. They have no obligation to do anything once out of their guarantee. If there is any redress in consumer law it would have to be against the retailer. Sadly they are almost guaranteed to be uninterested and wash their hands of it. Whether you have a claim is rarely cut and dry. You could argue that it should have lasted at least twice as long. If they accepted that they would only be likely to offer something like a 50% refund.

    My understanding of how the Consumer Rights Act works is that it gives us genuine rights but they are vague and very easy for retailers to ignore. If the retailer refuses to accept your claim that it hasn’t been of sufficient quality or lasted a reasonable time you would have to go to the small claims court or enlist the help of someone like Which? or Citizens Advice. Retailers know that 99% of people won’t.

  2. I bought a Samsung Fridge Freezer in September 2014 and the lining of the freezer had the appearance of having melted where the middle drawer runners were. The plastic had disintegrated leaving the melted effect inside, which I now know to be a manufacturing issue where the inside moulding failed to reach these areas … this confirmed by Samsung’s own engineer, who I know submitted a report to them on 23 December 2019. However, this was a revised report by the engineer as the first stated “customer misuse”, even though he had agreed in front of myself and my husband that it was a manufacturing issue! I have correspondence with the engineer of submission of the new report stating manufacturing issue. Samsung, however, having now escalated the matter further and referred to their “product specialists” have quoted that “we would not expect a manufacturing fault to first become apparent approximately 6 years into the life of an appliance”. I reported the problem when the appliance was 5 years and 3 months old … their warranties are for 5 years. We’re a retired couple, no children or grandchildren have used this appliance, we bought it and took great care of it and expected far more from it seeing as they trumpet a 10 year warranty on their motors. I’m not expecting compensation to be honest, but it just feels wrong to let Samsung get away with this when manufacturing defect has effectively been confirmed. My question is can I sensibly approach them with the Consumer Rights Act and possible small claims threat? What galls me most is that I’ve recently bought a Samsung washing machine, which completes my change to everthing Samsung!

  3. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Diana. The idea that a manufacturing fault must reveal itself straight away is flawed. If something is flawed in its manufacture it may be that it fails after several years. For example a manufacturing fault in a seal that protects the drum bearings may cause it to fail prematurely and let water into the bearings which then become very noisy and collapse. But this faulty design, or poor design, may well work adequately for years before failing prematurely.

    However, I’m not 100% sure exactly what this fault is. Photos may help if you wanted to contact me using my contact form at the top of the page. If it is a manufacturing fault then as this article states we have up to 6 years to claim. But any claim is not against the manufacturer, it is against the retailer. Unfortunately this complicates matters greatly and makes claiming extremely difficult and frustrating. This is because although the retailer is responsible they never really comply and will just battle us to the end over it. As opposed to be fair I would also have to say that just because an engineer said it was a manufacturing fault that isn’t necessarily proof that it is. He could have been wrong, although it is unlikely that an engineer would say anything like that lightly.

    If you have it in writing that they has been a manufacturing fault you would really need to give this evidence to the retailer you bought it from. Clearly the manufacturer is not going to comply and they have no legal obligation to do so as my article describes. It is possible the retailer may be helpful but they usually aren’t unfortunately, especially after such a long time. But if you wanted to pursue it you would really need to get proper help from somewhere like Which? Or Citizens Advice.

  4. I have had one years use out of a table saw which has a two year guarantee. The retailer has stated that the guarantee is given by the manufacturer and it is their responsibility. The manufacturer suggested I call out an electrician the fees for which I would be responsible, the retailer has said had of called out an electrician it would have cancelled the guarantee. The machine has been used only as a hobby machine and although the table is scratched it has actually had very little use. I believe the retailer is wrong and should be responsible under the new 2015 law. Am I correct or do I have to fight for what the manufacturer states is a two year guarantee?

  5. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Howard. If an appliance has a two year guarantee then the manufacturer is responsible for repairing the appliance within that guarantee as long as the fault is covered by it. The retailer has longer responsibilities that extend beyond the manufacturers guarantee, but it is right to say that you should normally get the manufacturer to look at their product as a first line of action if it is covered by a guarantee.

    Once the appliance is out of the manufacturers guarantee then the retailer does still have responsibilities as detailed in this article. However, I’m struggling to think of any scenario where a manufacturer insisted that the fault was not covered under its guarantee but where the retailer would be responsible. The only thing I can think of is if the manufacturer claimed that something had simply worn out and was not covered but the customer felt that it had worn out in an unreasonably short time.

    So if there is a fault on the appliance and it has a two year guarantee then the manufacturer should fix it. If by any chance the two year guarantee was only given on condition that you registered the appliance with them, which is actually quite common, and you didn’t register it with them then they can say that it is not covered for the extended guarantee. This is normally after the first 12 months. It’s considered a given that any new product is guaranteed for 12 month for any extra guarantee beyond that is always an extra guarantee that can come with conditions. In that case you could claim from the retailer if the product is now out of guarantee but you believe it has developed a serious or expensive fault which should not have happened considering the age and the amount of use it has had. But that would be very much dependent upon exactly what the fault is, and how expensive it was going to be to repair, how much use it has had and how much it cost in the first place.

    For example if a product cost £30 and only lasted two years it might be difficult to claim that it hasn’t lasted a reasonable time because £15 a year is pretty cheap. But if a product cost £300 and only lasted two years that would be different, and if it cost £3000 and only lasted two years that would be much more like a cast-iron case that the product hasn’t lasted a reasonable time for what it cost.

  6. My fridge freezer is Just over 2 years old. I took out a care plan on it. A year ago it wasn’t getting cold enough, the freezer items had thawed, an engineer came out replaced the pcb and it worked fine. Just over a week ago the same problem, engineer came out, replaced Pcb again and said it’s fine. Few days later after buying more shopping for fridge/freezer noticed my fridge thermometer wasn’t getting to required temperature and freezer had thawed everything out again! Engineer came out again Friday, wasn’t sure what’s wrong, said fan working but it’s not getting cold enough so he’s ordered a compressor and is coming out again today. I’ve lost 2 x full freezer loads of good but my care plan doesn’t cover for the loss. My house insurance has an excess of £150 so that’s not viable. Am I covered any other way to get compensation for loss of food?

  7. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Sam. Yes you should be, although manufacturers and retailers seem to hate that and generally tend to be unhelpful. In law it is called consequential loss, that is, as a consequence of their breach of contract, or failure of their repair you have suffered further financial loss.

    The loss that you have suffered could not be anticipated by you in any way. You had every reason to believe that the freezer was now repaired and it was therefore safe to stock up with food. You have an obligation to mitigate the loss in that you shouldn’t just write it all off and expect them to pay for it all. For example if you could use up some of the defrosted food by adjusting your meal plans, or if you could save some of the food by transferring into another freezer or even neighbours freezer then you should try to do that . But if it defrosted overnight and you had no warning of it then obviously none of that is possible.

    One of the the problems with these sort of claims is that manufacturers or retailers do not like to just pay out money based upon what the customer says they have lost. Therefore it is highly recommended that you save all of the packaging for the damaged food. I know at least one major retailer that used to pay out based on evidence of packaging. Of course if you didn’t know this before it is possible you have thrown it all out. If so, try to find your last receipts for shopping. At the end of the day they would have to try and agree a reasonable figure, but if they accept that the freezer has broken down and it is covered by their guarantee, or that their repair has not lasted a reasonable time, then they have to accept that you will have inevitably suffered financial loss as a consequence and they cannot reasonably refute that. If they do you will need to enlist the help of somewhere like citizens advice.

  8. My tumble dryer broke down after 16 weeks bought on finance repair man came out fixed it but broke down next day after two and a half weeks candy is waiting for a part which they havent been able to get so I am now sitting with a dryer that is no good they dont know when they will get the part I am so disapointed because due to health issues I really need a dryer

  9. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Laura. Normally they would need to carry out a repair within a reasonable time. But sadly as we all know these are not normal times. It seems that many things have slowed down and even ground to a halt and we are expected to just deal with it. The chances are they will (if they haven’t already) just say that it is all due to Covid 19. You can try pressing the retailer to replace it but I honestly suspect that everyone will just say that there’s nothing can be done. If you want to make sure you would be better off trying to get help and advice from citizens advice who will be in a better position to call something like this.

  10. I wish I’d come across this site earlier.
    I had a Kenwood American fridge freezer bought from Currys 3 years ago which stopped working recently defrosting a whole load of food.
    I contacted several local appliance repair companies who all said the don’t repair fridge freezers. Being outside the 12 month warranty I didn’t bother contacting Currys and went ahead and bought a replacement as could not manage without a fridge.
    I have since seen lots of posts on a review site where the Kenwood fridge freezer appears to be renowned for unreliability and break downs which suggests the manufacture is not fit for purpose. The old one was taken away so now have no evidence to take any further action.
    Lesson learned- I will know better if faced with similar problem in the future.
    Thankyou for this helpful site.

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