Appliance just out of guarantee and unrepairable

Questions answered What if you have an appliance that is only just out of guarantee and you’ve been told it is unrepairable? In this example someone had bought a Zanussi fridge freezer 14 months previously. It was 2 months out of guarantee and had broken down. The manufacturer’s engineer said the fault was due to an internal gas leak and was unrepairable. The customer asked me what her rights were. She had paid £630 for it..

..Note that although this specific question relates to a fridge freezer, the situation should be relevant to any white goods appliance.

Just out of guarantee and unrepairable

Under UK consumer law, the manufacturer’s only obligation is to carry out repairs under their guarantee period, which has now expired. If it was repairable and they were quoting for an expensive repair it might bring up other consumer rights issues against the retailer (out of guarantee doesn’t always mean you should pay). But as the appliance is not repairable the manufacturer is washing their hands of it.


You would think that as they made the appliance and you are one of their customers they would offer to replace it themselves. They commonly don’t. As far as they are concerned you didn’t buy it from them. They didn’t get your money (although they obviously do indirectly) so it’s nothing to do with them.

They will usually tell you to go back to the retailer. This is of course technically correct (Who is responsible for faulty appliances – manufacturer or retailer?)

The retailer is responsible

I advised that they should contact the retailer and request a replacement under the Consumer Rights Act (previously sale of goods act).

This appliance hadn’t lasted a reasonable time (or it was not fit for purpose due to it’s short lifespan). Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if an appliance cannot be repaired – and it has not lasted a reasonable time – then the retailer is responsible…


The retailer is unlikely to be helpful

Ironically the first thing most retailers are likely to do is ask the manufacturer for credit to replace it, which is commonly denied. If the manufacturer refuses to give them credit a retailer will often try to limit their costs by denying any responsibility. They may claim there’s nothing they can do because it’s out of guarantee.

This leaves the consumer with both retailer and manufacturer claiming there’s nothing they can do. If a consumer has a valid right to compensation or a replacement under the Consumer Rights Act then the retailer is wrong. (Out of guarantee – even by a long time doesn’t always mean you should pay)

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Unfortunately most of us will have to fight for our consumer rights. Front-line staff are commonly untrained on the full extent of consumer rights and may genuinely believe you have no rights. You may have to go to their superiors or even enlist help from consumer advice bodies. Hopefully if you make sure they know you understand you have rights and won’t be easily fobbed off they will comply. The retailers know very well that most people won’t. In this case, after insisting on a replacement, the customer confirmed that the retailer did exchange the fridge freezer without any quibble.

Do you automatically get a brand new appliance if the old can’t be repaired?

It will depend on the age of the appliance. A retailer can try to reduce their costs by asking the customer to pay a contribution. The logic is that you have already enjoyed a certain percentage of an expected lifespan so shouldn’t be entitled to a complete replacement. This does make logical sense, but whether or not they would try this is dependent on the circumstances and the retailer.


Here’s how it would work

In order to ask for a contribution towards the cost they need to work out what percentage of life you’ve already enjoyed. They would need to say how long the appliance would be expected to last on average. These figures aren’t easy to know or agree upon. Say for example they claim a fridge freezer would normally last 10 years (which is 120 months), they could say you’ve enjoyed 14 of those months which equates to just over 10%.

What if the appliance was older and couldn’t be repaired?

If an appliance has been deemed unrepairable by the manufacturer but it is further out of the guarantee period then things may be quite different. If an appliance is a year out of guarantee – or maybe even 4 or 5 years out of guarantee then you may still have rights under the Consumer Rights Act. There’s usually little point in complaining to the manufacturer although it has been known for them to accommodate customers out of goodwill (and clearly this makes sense). However, it is the retailer who has the liability.


The critical point here is that the appliance is unrepairable. Therefore however old the appliance is at this point this is exactly how long it has lasted – so the question becomes – is this acceptable? (Consumer Rights Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances?)

What if it’s repairable but very expensive?

This is far more common, and much more complex. If an appliance is only days or possibly a week or so out of guarantee then you would hope that out of good will the manufacturer would offer to repair it free of charge. But they aren’t obliged to, and often won’t. If this is the case you need to remember your rights under the Consume Rights Act are against the retailer who sold it to you. You may still be entitled to a free repair depending upon the circumstances.


You would need to contact the retailer and you would need to show that your appliance has not lasted a reasonable time, has not been fit for purpose, or it had an inherent fault at the time of sale. Whether or not you have any justification in such a claim will depend on all of the circumstances – how much you paid, how long you’ve had it, whether it has been nothing but trouble or previously trouble-free, how you’ve looked after it, and how much it has been used. Some of the elements in this calculation are subjective and not clear-cut. This is why you may have to seek consumer advice from someone like Which? and why sometimes a small claims court judge may have to decide.

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44 thoughts on “Appliance just out of guarantee and unrepairable”

  1. Jonathan Little

    Hi Andy,

    We bought a fitted CDA fridge in January 2019 as part of a new kitchen. It first broke down in summer 2020 and was out of action for 5 weeks waiting repair. It has now broken down again. CDA have a five years parts guarantee but want a fixed rate charge of £125 to visit and repair. If it is unrepairable, which they are implying when contacted, they will give a £90 discount on a new fridge. Is it worth repairing or should we just dump it and start again?

    Should we be asking for a refund?

    Cheers

    Jonathan

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Jonathan. If it was a really cheap fridge it might not be worth pursuing, either repairwise all refund wise. But if it was fairly expensive, and particularly if it was very expensive you could argue that it has not lasted a reasonable time if it turns out to be beyond economic repair. However, you would have to argue that with the people you bought it from, and not the manufacturer. If such a claim is acknowledged, and the retailers usually fight it, you would be entitled to a percentage of the purchase price related to how long you have already had it.

      So for example, if it cost £500, and it was accepted that such an appliance should last around 10 years then that would equate to £50 per year. If you had already had use of the appliance for five years for example, then you should be entitled to £250. So it’s a question of doing the maths. If an appliance was only £250, and it is only expected to last around seven years these days, and someone had had an appliance for five years, then the amount they stand to get back in compensation is not really worth the hassle. The problem is that you do not know if it is beyond economical repair or not until they have looked at it.

      1. Jonathan Little

        Thanks for the response. I will try to get them to replace it at a discount then.

        Cheers

        Jonathan

  2. We had a CDA integrated larder fridge fitted with our new kitchen in October 2016, in August 2019 it broke down an engineer from CDA came out and said it could not be repaired. We paid £100 for the engineer call out, around £150 for the replacement fridge and another £130 for installation. June 2023 and the replacement fridge has broken down and we have again been told that it cannot be repaired, this was determined by me sending them a video of the back wall of the fridge being pushed in by my fingertips, we have been told by CDA that they want a further £330 to supply and instal another new fridge. By the time we have paid this we will have paid around £700 on top of the original purchase price for a fridge that I am sure will breakdown again in a few years. Are we better off buying cutting our losses and buying a different make of fridge all together, which will obviously cost more. I am concerned that the reason for breakdowns is the position of the fridge, it is in a housing next to the built in oven and the combination mircowave oven, we were never told this was a problem when the kitchen was fitted or when the original fridge was replaced by CDA. Your thoughts and advise would be very welcome. Many thanks

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Virginia. When your first fridge was written off because it could not be repaired after just three years, you may have had a good case to get some compensation from whoever you bought it from under the consumer rights act 2015. The fact that the second fridge is also unrepairable after not much longer should be more than enough to convince you to never buy that brand again.

      I can’t really comment on the possible causes of the breakdowns because I have no idea what has actually failed. If it was definitely related to it being installed next to an oven, then I would expect that both engineers who wrote off your fridges would have told you in no uncertain terms. If that is the case, then you may need to seriously consider trying to remedy the situation somehow.

      It’s not recommended to install a refrigeration appliance next to an oven, but that’s just simply because the fridge is trying to cool things down and an oven heats the surrounding area. If there is a wooden panel between the two, then I wouldn’t expect it to cause much trouble. The only real trouble likely to be caused if something heats up the area around the fridge, is that the fridge would need to work a bit harder. That shouldn’t really cause much trouble apart from the fact that the longer any appliance is running, the quicker it wears out.

      If you factor in the fact that a fridge has insulation packed all around it, I would have thought it quite unlikely that the heat from an adjacent oven (particularly if separated by a reasonable air gap or kitchen side panel) would cause major problems. Maybe if it was in a commercial kitchen where everything was on all the time but otherwise I suspect this is a theoretical issue, which makes sense, but in practice maybe doesn’t cause that much of a problem. I’d be less happy if the fridge cabinet is actually touching the oven.

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