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The Sale of Goods Act has been replaced by The Consumer Rights Act 2015.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. I ordered a cooker and when I received it
    I had it fitted by a gas fitter, but when.i used it the first time I was faulty , I then had to pay a gas fitter again to remove it to get it picked up for inspection, they agreed that the cooker was faulty and gave me a refund , I am out of pocket now because I have to pay a gas fitter again to fit my new cooker, am I entitled to get the money back for the first fitting because the cooker was faulty and I am totally out of pocket now.

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Anja. yes this is known as “consequential loss”. As long as you cold not avoid this expense they should be liable to compensate you for it. You should not be left financially damaged by a faulty appliance. You need to complain to the retailer though.

  3. I bought a Beko washing machine on line from John Lewis. After two weeks of normal use (I live on my own),it has leaked a lot of water from under the machine,twice. I am 82 and should not have to get onto my knees to mop the floor. John Lewis are sending engineers tomorrow to see if there is a fault which can be repaired. I want them to remove the machine and give me an exchange. If there is a repairable fault,who is to say it won’t recur sometime in the future.

    Please,could you let me know my legal position.

    Thank you.

    Sonia Dreisin.

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Sonia. Usually a retailer will replace a faulty appliance within the first 30 days. After that they are very reluctant unless it is something pretty serious. It’s unusual for a washing machine to leak so soon.

  5. We bought a washer/dryer from John Lewis just over two years ago and it has now developed a fault and will not work – I think it may be a problem with the PCB but am not sure. Without coming to inspect it or even knowing what the fault is, the manufacturer says they will repair it for a fixed price of £165. The machine is now 3 months out of its warranty but cost over £700 so I feel that it shouldn’t have broken in such a short time, but given that it has, I don’t feel it is reasonable for me to have to pay £165 to have it repaired. This would mean that, in effect, we would have paid nearly £900 for this machine – and who is to say it won’t have further problems. Do you think that we have a case against JL under the Consumer Rights Act please? If so, as I can’t be without a washing machine for an extended period should I go ahead and get it repaired and try to claim the cost back from JL later?

  6. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Steve. Yes I agree, a washing machine that costs £700 should not need to have £165 spent on it to repair it after just over two years. £165 to repair what may turn out to be a very minor fault is insane. There is no wonder the world is in such a state with the massive environmental impact of throwaway goods when companies are trying to charge so much money.

    I’ve always hated fixed-price repairs. I don’t think they should be allowed, but sadly it seems it is the prevailing option offered by all of the major manufacturers and nationwide repair companies these days.

    Fixed price repairs can only work (for the company doing it) if the vast majority of customers are overcharged. The way that it works is that companies know that the vast majority of faults are relatively minor, and need few if any spare parts, but a small percentage are more major and need expensive parts and / or a lot of time to fix.

    So what they tend to do is put in disclaimers so they can write off your appliance if it is going to be very expensive for them to repair. Faults in between that may be simple to fix but require a fairly expensive spare part are likely to be carried out because they are compensated for by all of the people who have overpaid. The vast majority of people overpay, sometimes extortionately. For example, if your washing machine is not working it may be possible that they can repair it by dealing with a poor connection, or a problem with the door catch not operating properly, or maybe just fitting apart worth £20-£30 – but they will charge you £165. It’s very simple, and it works very well apart from the fact that it seems prices have got very unrealistic indeed.

    At the end of the day, everyone paying the exact same price no matter what they use is a stupid concept. Do you remember when we all paid the exact same amount for our water regardless of how much we used? Little old ladies living alone paid exactly the same as a family of seven. It’s extremely unfair. Imagine if we all paid the exact same amount for our gas and electricity regardless of how much we used.

    Anyway apologies for going off at a tangent. Which manufacturer is it by the way?

    Regarding your rights, they are solely with the retailer and not the manufacturer. Manufacturers may occasionally be helpful but more often than not they are not interested in doing free repairs because they legally do not need to. The sole responsibility is with the people who sold it to you. So if you have any fight about it you need to do it with John Lewis and quote the consumer rights act 2015. In my article above I linked to several other pieces of information including this one which shows some examples where people had received a free repair or replacement when the product was sometimes well outside the guarantee period out of guarantee does not necessarily mean you have to pay for repair

    At the end of the day your complaint is that you should not have to spend £165 to repair something that is only a couple of years old. If the washing machine had only been one of the cheap ones at around £300 then it arguably may be different. At the end of the day I see this story playing out time and time. I even experienced it myself. The consumer rights act puts the sole onus on the retailer. But the retailer has done nothing wrong, they often didn’t make that much money selling the product in the first place. Yet they have been charged with the responsibility of up to 6 years (5 in Scotland) for any major fault that develops or if the product turns out to be not of sufficient quality, not fit for purpose or manufactured with an inherent fault. I have to confess I have a lot of sympathy for manufacturers but at the end of the day the law is the law and we have no other redress but with the retailer.

    So having said that the retailers tend to be highly resistant to giving out free repairs, or giving out free new appliances. I would expect that big retailers like John Lewis though should be able to get recompense from the manufacturers. But the fact that they are so reluctant seems to contradict that assumption. Many retailers it seems deliberately keep their frontline retail staff in the dark about the true extent of consumer rights so that they have deniable plausibility when they insist there is nothing they can do and you need to complain to the manufacturer. Even John Lewis have been criticised by Which? for this sort of thing in the past. So if you get that, you need to escalate it to a manager. It is likely that any proper manager will know the true rights.

    The biggest problem after this is that you don’t know how serious the fault is until someone has been to look at it. So it’s a very unsatisfactory Catch-22 situation. Under the consumer rights act the retailers can insist that you prove that a fault is inherent (i.e. poorly designed) or that it has not been caused by normal wear and tear. It is possible that after two years and three months a washing machine could have been subjected to more washing than the average person does in a 6 or 7 years. So in these cases, how something has been used is also relevant. So for example you are a family of six who washes 10 loads a week that can be seen as excessive or very heavy use and can be taken into account. Conversely if there is only one or two people in the household you could use that as evidence that it has had a very easy life.

    Sadly my experience is that very few people have the time or tolerance to stress to stand their ground and see something right through to the end if the retailer is being particularly obstructive. Your main hope is that John Lewis still have a pride in their reputation, and that they will offer some sort of compensation, but if they don’t then I can only advise that you take official consumer advice from either citizens advice or Which?

    Please let us know how you get on.


  8. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Peter. Extra long warranties and guarantees like 10 years usually have some sort of terms and conditions. They will certainly exclude what they would judge as wear and tear but there could be other exclusions.

    There are some sneaky extra warranties that companies advertise but when it comes down to it they may only cover a small percentage of events that is highly unlikely to happen anyway. Is there a way to doublecheck what the warranty actually covers? Exactly why have they said that it is not covered?

    I think that you probably need to claim against the retailer that sold it to you under the consumer rights act 2015. Regardless of how long any manufacturers guarantee is, even if it is only the standard 12 months, we have a right to claim a free repair or replacement if the appliance we were sold turns out to be in breach of the consumer rights act.

    A fridge freezer that only lasts three years and then is beyond economical repair should definitely be covered as long as it has been subject to normal household use. If it has been using any commercial environment then usually that is covered in one of their exclusion clauses.

    A fridge freezer should last around 10 years so it has not lasted a reasonable amount of time and has not been fit for purpose. Either that or there was an inherent fault on the compressor.

  9. lisa cadwallader

    hi i have a hover candy washing machine i got from currys its only 2month old and it was smoking from the back. I hav had 2 enginers out to see it and they said that its a moter proplem and the have orderd the parts its been 2weeks an i have not heard anything.I have been on the phone everyday today i was on phone for over a hour and spoke to 7 diffrent people.Just passing this all over the place in the end i got to speke to a adviser wicth told me to go to currys where i got this machine and ask for a new machine.Im just wondering is this the right thing to do

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Lisa. Yes. You need to demand a new one or your money back from Curry’s. They have breached the Consumer Rights Act 2015 by selling you a washing machine that was inherently faulty.

  10. Hi there

    My AEG fridge freezer has stopped working after 30 months. It is therefore out of its 24 month warranty period. We had an independent engineer out to inspect and has declared that is it not fixable without incurring significant cost. We have been without a working appliance for 3 weeks now and have been forced to buy a replacement. What recourse do we have against AEG/electrolux? I reported the issue to them on 22 March and so far I am going round in circles with them via I have provided all the info they have requested and so far nothing. Can I claim for a refund via small claims?


    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Mary. I would imagine would be a better place to answer that question regarding the Small Claims Court, but I would think that would definitely be a last resort that could potentially work. If a fridge freezer is essentially scrapped after 30 months, then it’s very likely to have breached the Consumer Rights Act 2015. It obviously hasn’t lasted a reasonable time, even if it was relatively cheap.

      But as I have mentioned many times before, unfortunately the manufacture does not have any legal obligation regarding the consumer rights act. The responsibility is completely laid at the retailer’s door. So essentially you are in dispute with the wrong people. Although it’s perfectly possible for a manufacturer to accept some responsibility, and make efforts to keep a customer happy, unfortunately they don’t seem to do it very often.

      The problem is likely to be centred around the fact that AEG are highly unlikely to accept the word of an independent engineer, especially if it is a local and small business. They are very likely to need to inspect the fridge freezer themselves. To be fair, no one would accept the word of a third party engineer in these kind of circumstances.

      If you have thrown the appliance away now then you would have to take them to the Small Claims Court, and prove to a Small Claims Court judge that the appliance failed and could not be repaired economically, presumably using a written report by the engineer that looked at it.

      If you do not have a written report, and you do not have the freezer any more, then I would think it virtually impossible to claim any compensation. If you do have them, and AEG are just refusing to accept the engineer’s opinion then unless you can negotiate with them through resolver to get some satisfaction or some compromise then it would be down to whether the judge accepted it or not.

      The good news is that it is not difficult or expensive to use the Small Claims Court, though obviously it does involve time, effort and some expense. If you do have the freezer, then I would think AEG would need to inspect it before they would admit of any fault, unless they are internally aware that quite a few of their freezers have suffered similar fates and have the decency to offer you some sort of compensation.

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