This article is written to accompany my article how to get faulty a washing machine exchanged. It provides a list of common user and installation faults often found when engineers inspect a washing machine that a customer is insisting they want replacing because it is faulty. Before complaining about a faulty washing machine with a mind to getting exchanged it might be wise to check this list – just in case.
Retailers and manufacturers know that it is surprisingly common to find that it’s not the washing machine at fault if the appliance is brand new. That is why they will almost always insist on sending an engineer to look at an appliance before considering a replacement or refund. You could be charged if it turns out to be one of the problems listed below. Here are examples of “faults” I’ve found when customers have demanded a replacement washing machine –
Common faults on a new washing machine caused by incorrect installation or user error
- Not emptying water (due to blockage in pump or pump filter) or being connected to new plumbing where the blanking cap hasn’t been removed Washing machine won’t drain after being moved or connected to new plumbing
- Washing machine stuck on rinses or giving an error code because it can’t take in any cold water caused by faulty installation, a kinked fill hose, or the cold tap being turned off
- Stuck on wash cycle filling and draining due to washing machine siphoning caused by drain pipe being too low (installation fault)
- Washing machine leaking which turns out to be caused by leaks from the fill hoses or plumbing at the back (installation fault)
- Washing machine bouncing about on spin and shaking around due to transit packing not being removed (installation fault – although if the washer was installed by the company you bought it from they should have removed this!)
- Not using the washing machine according to manufacturer's instructions (customer didn't read instruction book)
- Leaking from the soap dispenser due to a build up of un-dissolved detergent, or use of a detergent tablet designed to go in the drum not the dispenser (causing blockage)
- Banging on spin, or not spinning at all due to an out of balance load out of balance detection on modern washing machines preventing spinning of small loads
- Flooded kitchen because coins left inside pockets have been punched through the plastic outer tub by the spinning inner drum causing washing machine to need extensive major repairs
Some of the above faults may still need an engineer but won’t be covered by the guarantee. Some could be sorted out without needing an engineer.
What if you accept a repair but the washing machine breaks down again?
The concern here is that if you are reasonable, and give them a chance to fix the washing machine, it could backfire on you if at a later date if you try to get an exchange because of further problems. Consumer law allows for you to accept a repair, but on condition that if the repair fails, or takes an unreasonable time to complete you can still reject the washing machine. Also, if you suffer repeated faults, or a major fault, you may be entitled to a replacement or proportionate compensation. As of 2015 we are now entitled to a full refund if an appliance is faulty within the first 30 days.
Consumer Rights Summary
- You can now insist on a full refund if your appliance develops a fault within the first 30 days (although if it is a very minor fault it may not be necessary and potentially the retailer may still be able to insist on a repair if it is disproportionately expensive to do so compared to say just replacing a small part in 5 minutes, or reconnecting a wire)
- Recent changes in the Sale of Goods Act put the onus 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, and you’d be entitled to compensation or even a refund.
- You can accept a repair on the condition that you will still reject the faulty goods if the repair is not effective. This should not affect your rights
- An engineer will almost always need to inspect the washing machine. No one is likely to authorise a replacement over the phone for reasons explained in this article unless they are convinced by your description that something serious has gone wrong.
- The seller can refuse to replace the washing machine if they can show that doing so is "disproportionately costly in comparison with the alternative". However, any remedy must also be completed "without significant inconvenience to the consumer". You could try arguing that being without a washing machine for several days or more (if relevant) while waiting for a part is significantly inconvenient to you.
- You may still be entitled claim compensation or a repair if your washing machine constantly breaks down or suffers a major fault up to 6 years from purchase (5 in Scotland). For comprehensive details see my Blog article – EU 2 year guarantee. Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances.
- Be prepared to stand your ground if you are entitled to a replacement washing machine and this is what you want
- With washing machines already a few years old, you can’t expect to hold the retailer responsible for fair wear and tear. A washing machine can’t be expected to never break down. In order to use the consumer legislation, there needs to be an inherent fault (which was present on the day you bought it) – even if it only became apparent later on, or a lack of durability that suggests the goods were not of satisfactory quality to start with.
- You can claim compensation up to six years after purchase if your appliance has an "inherent" fault (five years in Scotland). Purchasers can demand damages (which a court would usually equate to the cost of a repair or replacement) [ More info: My washing machine is now out of guarantee, but I don't think I should have to pay for a repair | Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances ]