How to get faulty washing machine exchanged

Angry-customer-2 What are our consumer rights related to washing machines and white goods appliances that break down? Especially soon after purchase. Trying to get an appliance exchanged can be stressful and difficult. So before we jump in and angrily demand a replacement it’s best to try and look at the subject objectively.

Both the customer and retailer’s points of view are explored in this article.

I don’t want my washing machine repaired – I want it exchanged

Many customers want an exchange if a washing machine breaks down when they haven’t had it very long. Especially if it’s very soon after purchase. Unless a retailer had a 28 day exchange policy this used to be difficult. But the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 now makes this very simple. It says that if a new appliance goes faulty within 30 days we are entitled to a full refund if that’s what we want.

Is the washing machine really faulty?

However, before jumping in, try to make sure there is definitely a fault on the appliance. Make sure that the fault is not caused by faulty installation or a user fault. Failing to read the instruction manual causes a lot of avoidable problems. As an engineer I know that a substantial percentage (if not the majority) of all calls to a new appliance within the first week are likely to be user faults or installation faults.

If it’s a washing machine check this list that I have compiled separately is the washing machine actually faulty? It shows 9 examples of “faults” that are not washing machine faults at all. They are all caused by installation or user errors. Remember, you can be charged if it turns out to be one of these faults so it makes sense to check it.

They won’t exchange any appliance without sending an engineer to check it first

It’s easy to see why it’s highly unlikely anyone will exchange an appliance simply because it’s reported faulty once you’ve read the list mentioned above. It’s almost certain an engineer will need to inspect and confirm it is genuinely faulty.

Can I insist on an exchange if the washing machine IS faulty?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 gives us the right for a full refund if an appliance is faulty within the first 30 days. If the appliance is genuinely faulty you can request your money back.

You should stop using it and reject it. Some major retailers have exchange policies where they will exchange an appliance within the first 28 days without much hassle. This has nothing to do with any consumer rights though. It’s a commercial good-will policy decision.

The sooner a fault occurs the more likely a retailer will exchange it. They tend to get very reluctant after roughly a month. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 says that faults within the first 6 months are inherent. This means the fault must have been present when sold even if it didn’t show before. The retailer must prove otherwise. So if a substantial fault occurs within the first 6 months you have a better chance of getting it exchanged. After 6 months it is extremely difficult to get an appliance exchanged, even if consumer law says you are entitled to it.

Should you complain the manufacturer?

Under UK consumer law the manufacturer is not responsible. Only the retailer has any obligation regarding faulty goods. A manufacturer has an obligation to honour their guarantee. But they have no obligation to exchange faulty appliances. Neither can they give your money back because you gave it to the retailer. Some manufacturers will get involved. They will sometimes offer to exchange an appliance. If they offer something acceptable that’s fine. But if they don’t, remember the retailer is bound by the Sale of Goods act. It’s them you should be negotiating with. (Related: Why can’t I complain to the manufacturer? They made it so aren’t they ultimately responsible?)

Retailers can sometimes insist on repairing – not replacing an appliance

Rejected Automatically rejecting a washing machine over any fault is not necessarily a good idea. It’s common to instinctively want to reject something that breaks down the first time you use it, or within a short time of buying. As customers, we often appear to undergo a psychological rejection of goods, which is not based on any logic. It’s almost as if the washing machine is cursed, and doomed to constant failure so it must be got rid of.

Try not to lose sight of the fact that any product can develop a fault. It doesn’t mean there is something seriously wrong with it. It doesn’t mean that it will never stop breaking down. Bear in mind that a minor repair may  be considerably more convenient for all concerned including yourself. What’s the point for example of going through all the hassle of getting a washing machine exchanged if it can be fixed in 5 minutes with hardly any effort?

Also bear in mind that a retailer can insist on a repair if they can show that replacing the appliance is disproportionately more expensive than a repair.

You might be entitled to reject it if the product is faulty from the start but it makes sense to just see what the fault is first. Some faults can be pretty minor and hardly warrant a total rejection.

There is sometimes a stalemate caused by conflicting statements in the Sale of Goods Act. It gives us the right to reject a faulty product, but also gives retailers a right to repair it if it only has a minor fault.

Faults within the first 6 months are deemed to have been present when sold

As previously mentioned, a new amendment to consumer law has shifted the burden of proof of a fault from the consumer to the seller. This is only applicable within the first 6 months. This means a fault within 6 months is automatically assumed to be an “inherent fault” unless the seller can prove otherwise. It’s as good as saying if a new part can’t last a mere 6 months, it must have been faulty (or of sub-standard quality) when it was fitted to the washing machine. So it was therefore sold with an inherent fault.

Why are retailers so reluctant to exchange a faulty appliance?

This could be why – Is the sale of goods act too hard on retailers?

Faults on appliances out of guarantee

Once the appliance is out of the manufacturer’s guarantee you will always be told that you have to pay for a repair – even if The Consumer Rights Act 2015 shows you are entitled to a free repair or compensation. You can be entitled to a free repair or partial refund long after the first year.

It will depend on all of the circumstances, but you can still be covered by UK consumer law as this article describes Out of guarantee even by a long time doesn’t always mean you should pay

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

Some people think that because the Consumer Rights Act (formally Sale of Goods Act) gives us up to 6 years (5 in Scotland) to claim compensation it means we have a claim any time it breaks down within the 6 years. This is definitely not the case. Read this article here – Consumer Rights Act (formally Sale of Goods Act) gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances

Which? Consumer Advice special offer

I’m not a consumer expert. My consumer advice is my personal understanding based on a long study and research on the subject coupled with my 40 years experience in the trade, and years of writing and advising on my web sites.

Which? are a great source of independent consumer advice and product reviews and you can benefit from their highly respected opinions and experience online – you can usually get a special offer trial offer – (Why subscribe to Which? )

Distance selling regulations

You have additional rights if you buy your appliance over the internet or through a mail-order catalogue. Read this article for more information on Distance selling regulations on returning appliances

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116 thoughts on “How to get faulty washing machine exchanged”

  1. Hi, I bought an expensive Bosch washing machine online from John Lewis. It does not wash clothes and they come out just as dirty as they went in. I informed John Lewis of fault 15 days after delivery. John Lewis sent two Bosch engineers to check my machine – neither could find fault. I asked John Lewis/Bosch to do actual wash loads to see for themselves that the machine is faulty, but they won’t. They won’t refund or replace. Their is obviously a fault that the 15 minute check by the engineer is not picking up. What else can I suggest to them?

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Robina. That’s a very unusual issue. I can understand the engineers being sceptical of a fault if it appears to be ok because fault causing a washing machine to not wash laundry would normally be quite obvious. It’s also very rare for a new machine to have a problem like that. But just saying there is nothing wrong is very unhelpful. As you say they don’t spend any time checking appliances out these days as they are under so much time-pressure. So it’s possible they are missing something.

    What they should bear in mind is that there must be some explanation, and no one is going to go to all the stress and hassle of complaining persistently – just to pass time. There has to be an explanation.

    The things that spring to mind are what wash cycle do you use, how long does it take, and does it complete the cycle and turn off as you would expect?

  3. Robina Merakech

    Hi Andy,
    Thanks for your reply. ‘Cottons’ on 60 degrees takes a three and a half hrs. ‘Easy care’ on 40 degrees takes two and a half hrs. Cycle completes and turns off.

    I bought the Bosch washing machine online from John Lewis in November 2021. 15 days after delivery, I informed John Lewis in writing that the washing machine was not washing clothes, was not fit for purpose and requested a refund or replacement.

    They sent two Bosch engineers on separate occasions – neither found a fault with machine, yet to myself and my adult son it is obvious that the machine was not fit for purpose.

    I have used Bosch washing machines for the last 20yrs and my two previous models washed excellently. I read all manuals fully and follow instructions carefully, so rule out user error. Machine was installed by John Lewis.

    I showed engineers the poorly washed clothes. I emailed lots of photos of uncleaned clothes to John Lewis. I argued that just because engineers could not find a fault or error message within their 15 minutes checks, this was not conclusive that the machine was not faulty/unfit for purpose (I would so appreciate it if you would back me up on this). I requested that John Lewis/Bosch do in situ wash loads themselves to witness the poor wash performance for themselves, John Lewis declined. I suggested that the machine needs to be taken back to the factory and taken apart to find what the fault really is, John Lewis declined. I requested mediation, John Lewis said that they do not belong to an ADR scheme (I find that surprising) and declined mediation.

    Two months later, John Lewis keep repeating that, because two Bosch engineers found no fault, Bosch will not refund or replace John Lewis, therefore John Lewis will not refund or replace me. As no fault found, means no repair either!

    Independent engineers are saying if Bosch engineers found no fault, they are not likely to either and that I should go back to manufacturer, but Bosch are sticking to their findings. My son has supported my claim. What other evidence could I offer?

    I have informed John Lewis that I will not be using the washing machine further as it does not wash and is just wasting my electricity. I desperately need the space and money for a working washing machine and feel that John Lewis and Bosch are being inflexible in resolving this.

    Please please help.

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Robina. Yes not finding fault doesn’t prove anything – especially if they don’t spend much time testing Repair company want to charge if engineer can’t find fault but unfortunately you can’t prove there is a fault either yet.

    Exactly what model is it? And are those 2 programs you mentioned the ones you use? What does it say in the manual about Easy Care? It might not be suitable for normal washing as I just found this on Google from Bosch site –

    “Is easy care a gentle wash?
    Suitable for freshening up cotton or easy-care fabrics. … The program offers two rinse cycles with a gentle washing action for greater fabric protection.

    Have you tried cottons 40 normal wash with no time reducing options selected? Also finally, make sure it’s not caused by any of the issues in this article – washing not getting cleaned in washing machine

  5. I have a faulty new washing machine and will be taking your advice on how to complain. But mine is integrated into a fitted kitchen and I have paid £85 for it to be fitted. Where do I stand with that?

  6. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello S. My understanding is if you have suffered what is legally called, “consequential loss” you are entitled to compensation. From my experience manufacturers aren’t used to having to pay any of that out though and are likely to be resistant. We all suffer consequential loss if we have to take time off work for example in order for one of their engineers to fix a fault but no one ever seems to pay us for that. I think that theoretically we can claim for things like that but we are likely to have to take them to the Small Claims Court.

    I would approach it by saying you have suffered consequential loss. Because that is a legal term. If you have to pay another £85 for someone to refit a replacement then if they refuse you may have to take further advice from somewhere like Which? Or citizens advice.

  7. Hi I have a Zanussi microwave and this is the third time it has stopped working completely they say they are sending out an engineer in two weeks to look at it , it’s not a year old yet do you think this is reasonable??

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello David. No you definitely don’t expect a microwave to break down three times before the year. The problem is that after six months, we have to prove that any fault was inherent, which is extremely difficult to do. So unless the retailer wants to replace it out of goodwill it’s difficult to do anything. You could try saying that it is obviously not fit for purpose, or not of sufficient quality under the consumer rights act 2015.

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