Out of guarantee – even by a long time doesn’t always mean you should pay

Consumer rights We are all familiar with the phrase, “I’m sorry but the guarantee has run out so there’s nothing we can do”. This is often a complete lie – at least in many cases. If the manufacturer’s engineer says it then technically it is true because they have no obligation under the sale of goods act – but the retailer does. Retailers can’t just fob us off. Here is just one example which proves that this response is not always true.

Expensive coffee machine example

A Which? member bought an “expensive” coffee machine and after 30 months it broke down suffering a serious fault. This is 18 months out of guarantee. However, Which? advised him that an expensive coffee machine should be expected to last more than 2 and a half years so he was entitled to have it repaired free of charge by the retailer who had sold him a product that was not of satisfactory quality.


Had the fault been relatively minor the advice may have been different, likewise, if the coffee machine had been a cheap one, or it had been used in an abnormally heavy way such as in a works canteen. We can’t take it for granted that any fault on any appliance at 2 and a half years should be repaired free of charge under the sale of goods act, but it’s useful to have real life examples like this as a yard stick because it can help us gauge our own circumstances.

Out of guarantee appliances

When relating to washing machines or other white goods appliances it will depend on how much it cost, how it has been used, and what’s gone wrong. If you buy an expensive appliance (especially a brand which sells on a high quality image) which suffers an expensive breakdown after a few years you may be entitled to a free repair if you have used it normally and looked after it. I have heard of people winning cases when drum bearings have failed on washing machines almost 5 years old.


Conversely, if you paid £199 for a budget washer, and used it every day – twice a day – to wash for a family of 5 and it is exhausted and scrap after 3 years, it may well be that this is acceptable due to the cheapness of the appliance and the hard life it’s had. Even with such a short life it would have only cost £66 per year – £1.27 a week. I would think £1.27 a week to do 14 washes is pretty reasonable. So it’s necessary to try and look at the whole picture before deciding if you should be disgruntled or not.

Consumer Rights Act 2015 doesn’t cover all breakdowns

It’s important to be aware that the sale of goods act does not say that an appliance or product should never break down, or even that it shouldn’t break down before a certain time period (other than the first 6 months in which case it would be deemed to have an inherent fault). It says they should last a reasonable time and be free from inherent faults.


Relatively minor faults are not the issue in my opinion, it’s very expensive faults – especially those that aren’t economical to repair or cannot be repaired by design. Sadly, too much is open to (mis)interpretation and most retailer’s staff still say there’s nothing they can do once it is out of guarantee, but this is completely untrue in many cases. They too often completely ignore their responsibilities under the sale of goods act.

Another example

Here’s another example (from Which? legal). A customer had an automatic garage door fitted, which came with a 2 year guarantee. During the guarantee a part failed twice and was replaced. However, when the same part failed again 8 months outside the guarantee the company claimed he had to pay because it was out of guarantee. Which? said this was untrue. Under the Sale of Goods act goods should be of satisfactory quality and this includes being durable, so the same part failing 3 times in 3 years is definitely not complying.


Which? advised him he was entitled to a free repair. In this case, the company involved still refused so he was able to claim from the credit card company who eventually agreed it was jointly liable under section 75 of the Credit Act. If they hadn’t agreed to pay, he would have had to take the garage company to the small claims court.

There’s another example of a customer with an iPhone which was 4 months out of guarantee faced with a £130 bill because the on off switch went faulty. She eventually got compensation for the repair costs (with help from Which?) from T-mobile who had repeatedly refused to accept any liability. They eventually paid up when taken to the small claims court (without accepting any liability).

Is this why we have so much trouble getting appliances repaired or replaced when faulty?

The current system doesn’t work properly because it relies on the good will of the retailer to own up and admit they have a responsibility to repair or replace some appliances when they are out of the manufacturers guarantee. In practice, because the manufacturer has no obligation under the sale of goods act then once their guarantee has run out they tend to wash their hands of any problems. The retailers are then left to to foot the entire bill, and they don’t like it. For a more in depth look at this problem see here – Is the sale of goods act too hard on retailers?

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40 thoughts on “Out of guarantee – even by a long time doesn’t always mean you should pay”

  1. Purchased a cooker March 2022.
    There was issue with the door which couldn’t be fixed so had a different model sent in May 2022 as replacement as mine was not in stock.
    The handle came off in Feb 2023 and they sent a replacement part. Had the same door issue which was fixed this time but the engineer also repaired hinge on the top small oven as he said it had snapped. Engineer said someone should have fixed handle as it was in warranty and also said the bottom door is a common fault which Hotpoint are looking into. These were repaired in March 2023.

    Now I am just out of warranty and the other hinge has broke and the handle has come off yet again.
    (They are saying I will have to pair for repairs even though this is 6 issues in 13 months on 2 different models. They also say the handle is cosmetic but without the handle you burn yourself trying to open oven door)
    Paid around £400 we are a family of 7 but only use the oven once a week as we use our 2 air fryers.
    Disappointed that a £400 appliance can have 6 issues in such a short time

    Could you please advise. Thankyou

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Zoe. Don’t let them fob you off with nonsense. The handle is not cosmetic, it’s clearly functional. But even if it was cosmetic, it shouldn’t make any difference. They can’t just name various parts and say that they are exempt from the Consumer rights Act 2015. Even if a part is 100% cosmetic, you paid for it, it forms part of the product and if it is broken or faulty it adversely affects your enjoyment of the product.

      I would say your claim would be with the retailer, as the appliance is not of sufficient quality, as proven by all the issues you’ve had with it, but you may need to get the assistance of a consumer group like Which? Citizens Advice, or Resolver.

        1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

          Hello Zoe. That should strengthen your case not weaken it. It implies the appliance is poorly made. The problem is that retailers can sell all sorts of poor quality products but only have to compensate for a small fraction of the valid cases under consumer rights. This is because most people don’t try, and of those that do the majority give up when the retailers fight against it.

          They’ve all realised that simply by refusing to comply they get rid of almost all cases. Try using Resolve web site or get in touch with Citizens Advice.

          1. Looked on resolve and they don’t have any email contact for very.co.uk.
            Should I ask a manager from very to contact me or should I find a way to email them so it’s all in writing

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Zoe. I would contact citizens advice to make sure you have a solid case. I expect the retailer is very reluctant to have to replace an appliance twice. But if they have to replace it because of a valid consumer rights situation you would think they they should be able to claim from the manufacturer.

  3. I have a Zanussi ZCV66078XA Agency Model purchased 26/10/20 on my late husbands credit card for £489.99 plus £84.99 to have it fitted. The cooker did not arrive until late November. It caused the glass splash back to crack with the heat escaping from two vents on the top of the cooker, I did not complain. The cooker is now tripping the fuse causing the main fuse to turn everything off. I have had a electrician to check out and the switch on the wall is ok, but the installation resistance was low.
    I have contacted the shop we purchased the cooker but as the warrantry is out of date I will need to pay for a engineer to come out, £90 plus pay for parts that it may need I do not feel this is fair and two years and 6 months old is not enough to the cooker to stop working. Can you please offer any help.

    Kind Regards

    Karen

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Karen. If you haven’t already, carefully read my article, which already explains everything that I was about to say to you in this comment about what constitutes a good case and a more difficult case.

      The most common cause for a cooker or oven to trip the fuses is a faulty element. The only way to find the fault is by an engineer checking the parts with an insulation test meter.

      Although still well within the six years that we get to claim compensation under the consumer rights act 2015 (5 in Scotland), two and a half years is a period where retailers can claim fair wear and tear is at play, which of course is not covered.

      Unfortunately it is a very difficult area. You would need to be able to prove that the fault was inherently present when you bought the machine, or show that it has not lasted a reasonable time. My article above gives scenarios where it is easier on more expensive premium appliances, and less easy on budget appliances. Yours probably falls somewhere in between.

      All retailers are guaranteed to say that after two and a half years it is just fair wear and tear. In many cases this is completely untrue, which is why I wrote this article in the first place. But the six years we get is not a six year guarantee. The consumer rights act 2015 does not say that any product should not break down within the first six years. Things can and do break down or wear out just due to normal wear and tear. Whether two and a half years is fair wear and tear is difficult to say. I personally think that it is not fair wear and tear for a part that is not subject to any mechanical stresses, and just has to heat up and cool down to fail after two and a half years. But the critical problem with the consumer rights act is that it leaves everything down to pure opinion. Even the very phrase “fair” is totally subjective. The retailer and manufacturer can honestly believe it is fair, and the consumer can strongly believe that it is not fair.

      All I can say with certainty is that the manufacturer will do nothing, and the retailer will stick to the argument that it is just fair wear and tear. I can also say that no retailer will enter into any discussions about whether or not to cover a repair or even replace an appliance until they know exactly what has gone wrong and the appliance has been inspected. So whatever happens you do need to have an engineer to look at it.

      If you believe you have a case that it should have lasted longer you will need to enlist the help of a proper consumer group like Which?, or Citizens advice, or Resolver. The latter of which acts as an intermediary between consumers and retailers or manufacturers.

      1. Thank you Andy for clarifying things for me, will have an engineer look at the cooker and take it from there.

        Karen

  4. Stephanie harris

    Sharp tumble drier purchased December 21. Absolutely dead after moving across kitchen. Had just moved house at the time and sadly cannot find paperwork. What, if anything, can I do?

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hello Stephanie. If the appliance was working okay before it got moved, my first suspicion would be that it could just be related to it being moved. The first thing I would do is double check that the wall socket that it is now plugged into is definitely working okay and switched on properly by plugging a lamp or something into it. Also check any extension leads although ideally you shouldn’t use an extension lead with a tumble dryer. And finally try replacing the fuse with a thirteen amp fuse that you know is okay.

      It is hard to think of anything that could cause an appliance to go dead just by moving it across the room. Also double check that the door isn’t twisted and is closing properly.

      But if you need to call someone out under guarantee and you have lost the paperwork, then the first thing to try is to see if you can find reference to the purchase in your bank or credit card statements. Or even reference via email to its delivery. A manufacturer or retailer should accept these unless they can show that there is doubt that it actually refers to this particular appliance.

      If all that fails I would contact the manufacturer, or the people that the instruction manual tells you to call for repairs under warranty, and ask them if it is possible for them to date the appliance from the serial numbers.

      All manufacturers should be able to tell the exact month and year that any of their appliances was made because this information is encoded into the serial numbers. However this would only help if it showed that the appliance couldn’t possibly be out of guarantee. For examle, if you’d had it six months, and the serial numbers show that it was made nine months ago, then it must still be under one year old, and definitely under guarantee. This is an undeniable fact.

      However, if you have had an appliance for six months and the serial number indicates it was manufactured fifteen months ago, which is possible, then you don’t have any proof that you can use because theoretically you could have bought it fourteen months ago for example.

  5. Hi,

    Please could you advise?

    I had a dishwasher delivered Nov 30th 2022 which had an issue with the module, and it wouldn’t work. The engineer finally fixed it on January 6th 2023, 5+ weeks later.

    It has now stopped working again and all of my checks & fault finding lead me to believe it is some form of electrical issue, likely the same one again.

    I originally spoke to the manufacturer who refused to repair it as it was out of warranty by 5 days. I spoke to the retailer who are saying that they can’t do anything about it until they receive repair reports from the manufacturer, of which they have no SLA timeframe for. They have even asked me to see if I can get proof by calling Whirlpool…?

    It seems unfair that a machine I bought wouldn’t work for 5 weeks right from the off, and once fixed, breaks again less than a year later.

    How can I get over the hurdle of these reports from my previous engineer visit?

    Thanks!

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Elliott. Your situation is an example of how the consumer tights act is pretty useless much of the time. Consumers should never be caught between 2 separate large companies, neither of whom want to do anything at all unless forced to.

      The main problem is that you don’t really know what has gone wrong until an engineer has diagnosed the fault, and neither does the retailer. The retailer is the only one responsible under the Consumer Rights Act, yet how can they judge if a customer has a valid claim until an engineer has diagnosed a fault?

      This happens all the time with white goods, and customers have nothing but trouble trying to get their consumer rights. I’m pretty sure the majority of people get very short-changed or just give up.

      If something is obvious, where anyone can see something has gone seriously wrong, then retailers tend to act appropriately. But once something has gone out of its guarantee the customer only has rights if there was an inherent fault when it was sold, the product is of insufficient quality, or it’s not lasted a reasonable time.

      But how can they know if any of those are the case? In most cases, they can’t. So they rely on the manufacturer to tell them what has gone wrong. But now it’s out of guarantee, the manufacturer doesn’t want to send an engineer out without charging. Unfortunately, that too, is understandable.

      So that leaves the consumer in an impossible position. In fact, arguably all 3 parties are in impossible positions. That is the farce of the consumer rights act making only the retailer (who is clearly not responsible for any inherent faults or lack of quality) – responsible!

      So the only thing you can do is get someone (preferably the manufacturer) to diagnose exactly what has happened. Only then can you decide what to do and whether or not you feel you have a case.

      There is a possibility that the fault is not the same part. Or the manufacturer could accept the same part has failed and not charge you. But if they refuse, that’s when you would at least have some evidence that the same part has failed twice in such a short time. The retailer may do the decent thing. But they may still say the won’t do anything. In this case you would need to get the help from somewhere like Revolver.co.uk or Citizens Advice.

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