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

  1. Can I ask a new question please? I have extended warranty with Domestic & General, who employed Whirlpool to send an engineer to look at our Cannon gas freestanding cooker. I claim the cooker main oven heats hotter on the left, and thereby has damaged the side panel because it’s blistered all over from the heat, the right side is unaffected. The engineer turned on the two largest cooker hobs, the dual purpose small oven/grill and the main oven reg 8.

    I turned it down to 6. He made his way towards the door and told me it’s got to be on for one hour. I was shocked, he said he’s going to other jobs. After an hour (4.30pm) he called to say, he was busy and would be another half hour. I asked him if I could turn it off for a while because I was very hot. I wasn’t happy he left me to do the test. He said no, I couldn’t turn it off for a while. At 5pm he called and told me he was still not ready and would be half an hour I told him I was not willing to continue today. He suggested the next day, I said no, Friday. He agreed.

    I had to put it off for a few days because it was horribly hot and I was anxious. He wasn’t very careful when he lit the cooker hob rings because there were canisters either side of the cooker and I had to dash forward to retrieve them because they were near the flames and it was dangerous.
    On Friday he called me one hour before he was due to arrive, so I could copy his test. I turned on the cooker and after an hour he arrived. When he got here he noticed I’d lit the small oven and not the grill. He turned it to grill and was wiggling a thermometer between the cooker and the side panel. After about half an hour of doing this, the cooker was all lit up still, I went to walk to the door turned to look over my shoulder and noticed the overhead fitted units had blistered really badly. They looked like molten cheese under a grill.

    They had bubbled and blistered. The engineer wouldn’t admit it was the heat test that did it. The bubbling went down after the heat was off for a while but the overhead door has suffered permanent damaged. I told the engineer I was going to claim from Domestic & General. Find out a couple of months later from Whirlpools own insurance dept he has his own Public Liability Insurance. Whirlpool sent my claim to NIG who I recently received an email from declining my claim. I read with eyes on stalks, his lies to them. He’s not impartial and doesn’t want to get in to trouble, but the lies. I’m so furious and disgusted. I won’t be one of those people who falls away defeated. It’s not so much about the damage to the units now, it’s the fury of his lies.

    His insurer even uses quote marks with lies in them. How dare he do that. From the email from his insurer I learn the test should have been performed differently and the engineer put me in potential danger and was negligent. Whirlpool are not helping me with info I require about their test. They don’t want to discuss anything to do with the claim though I tell them of the danger he put me in. I’m going to fight back. I should not have been asked to perform the test myself, it’s an engineer’s job to do a test, I’m just a householder. It’s not my fault I did the test wrong. The engineer told his insurer a person in the gas technical dept in my presence that day told him he could leave me alone for an hour and I was a party to the call. This is a lie, the engineer didn’t speak to anyone on the phone in my presence nor do I remember him being on the phone at all. He names this person and I’ve tried 3 times to speak to him but Whirlpool don’t put calls through.

    Phew, obviously there’s more. As an engineer yourself do you have knowledge of householders being left to do tests themselves. The third party is either covering for the incompetent engineer or doesn’t know. Whirlpool will know now because I sent them a copy of the insurers letter setting out the declined claim. That way they will see the dodgy practise. I’m pressing on with this. Any ideas pls? Still haven’t got cooker fixed and extended to 5 years warranty expires in December I think. Whirlpool and Domestic & General shocking to deal with.

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Lorna. It sounds very frustrating and complicated. It’s not really about the subject of this article to be fair but I would say firstly that as your policy was with Domestic and General and it was they who sent whirlpool on their behalf then Domestic and General are ultimately responsible. However, in cases like this it is very hard to get a company to be candid and honest about it because of the complicated relationship they have with the person they have sent.

    One thing I’m not sure about is these, “tests”. If you just turned on the appliance for an hour before the engineer came I don’t understand how that is carrying out a test? The test would be when the engineer had arrived and started checking temperatures? I do think it is disappointing that an engineer would switch on a gas appliance and then leave it to go to another job when there is no guarantee (as proved to be the case) that he could get back in time, and especially when the complaint was that heat was damaging the surroundings!

    I think at the end of the day the manufacturer may well say that if the appliance has been installed exactly as described in their installation instructions that it should be impossible for heat damage to occur to surrounding areas. There are minimum gaps allowed between such an appliance and surrounding areas. That is of course unless there is a fault somewhere. Sometimes this happens where due to a bad design heat from the oven can damage the appliances control knobs and fascia. If the heat damage is to the appliance itself though that’s different unless it has been installed incorrectly.

    Unfortunately you are embroiled in a complex case with several different parties so I feel for your situation. It is very difficult when a customer has a dispute with an engineer and that engineer has been sent by an independent third party. It is a nightmare.

  3. Dear Andy, thank you so much for your reply. I was so happy reading what you had to say, and that you actually grasped the problem. You know, I send emails and I can see the other party has either not read them properly, or in some cases hasn’t read it all. Grrr!
    Thanks for taking the time to answer.

    Two weeks ago I was waiting for a Whirlpool engineer, got a call from the company, the engineer went sick on the job. They arranged for a visit the next day between 10am and 1pm. Waited until 3pm then called them. Guess who was supposed to come both days? Yes, the engineer who damaged my units. He didn’t bother to contact Whirlpool and say he couldn’t do the job because of insurance claim. No, he just ignored me, what a coward, he went sick rather than do my repair. I’m completely nonplussed. I couldn’t have let him in though. The call handler phoned him, messaged him, emailed him and he didn’t respond.

    Anyway, waited 2 weeks for a different engineer who attended yesterday. I picked his brains regarding heat tests. I showed him the damage on the left side panel and pointed out the right side was unaffected. I asked him how he does heat tests. He said he puts a thermometer gadget inside the oven at reg 9. Turns on the small dual purpose oven to maximum. He tests between the cooker and the side panel with a probe for 20/25 minutes. He doesn’t turn on the hob rings, nor the grill. He tests the hob rings by putting a gadget in the flames, and the grill with a gadget held above it on the bottom of the fascia panel. I asked if he leaves or stays, he said stays. He saw I was taking notes and I told him I would quote him and asked if he was worried.

    I assured him I’m honest and I would quote just as he said. I asked if he would stand by what he said, and he said “yes”. I’d met him before, I don’t know if he will be asked to verify what he said by Whirlpool, but if one tells the truth and knows the test described is a bonafide one, there’s no need to worry. I think probably behind the scenes the engineer, initial M, was asked to explain. Whirlpool won’t talk to me now because of the insurance claim, honestly Andy it would cost a few hundred pounds at most. Whirlpool are shutting me down because though I claimed on M’s public liability insurance, and he’s a contractor, he’s their employee. I know someone (retired) who was a loss adjuster, he says go after Whirlpool and Domestic & General, but Whirlpool first, he thinks they have more liability and that’s why they won’t cooperate answering questions about tests and lots more.

    Whirlpool will incriminate themselves if they disclose their engineer did a test that didn’t conform to their rules. Whirlpool have told me to seek legal help. I haven’t gone after them yet, but they are next in my hit list. I’m doing lots of investigating. I’ve contacted BT for a record of incoming calls called a data subject request it will show calls to our landline on 11th May, because the engineer says he called me at 4.30pm to call off the test. In fact we spoke at 5pm and he was still willing to come at 5.30pm. I called it off at 5pm, M will have to explain why he called me at 5pm, as I’ve always maintained he did. Unfortunately to get the info I want from BT takes 4 to 6 weeks. I was given an address to seek same, because they said that might get a response faster. It’s been one and a half weeks since I requested this.

    I asked for a test from Whirlpool that D&G identified when I asked them to look at their computer and tell me what the engineer had reported. Info was very scant but mentioned D144. I emailed both Whirlpool Managing Direct UK and Whirlpool under the Freedom of Information Act seeking info on D144. I was informed yesterday on the phone that the Act doesn’t apply to them and it’s an in-house test which they won’t disclose. I knew the Act didn’t really apply, but some big companies may cooperate. It had them running around for two weeks lol. It had someone looking up the Act the caller told me.

    Haven’t replied to his insurers NIG yet, but the loss adjuster friend said it’s very difficult to get an insurer to change their minds. He gave me very useful tips though. Simple one, “The gas engineer is not impartial because he doesn’t want to incriminate himself”. I urge your readers who read this, and feel they don’t have a voice when complaining or get a satisfactory outcome, to keep the pressure up. Keep going, not only is it satisfying that you are giving it your best shot, but the outcome may be favourable. I won’t stop until I get a positive outcome. The engineer lied about the test and how it was performed, I will never stop chasing this because of the lies. If the insurer paid up I’d never have known about the incompetence.

    I’ve resorted to record, on my iPad phone calls that may be pertinent. I resisted doing that to the engineer who visited yesterday, that’s why I was firm that what he told me he’d stand by, giving him the opportunity there and then to tweak it. I wasn’t trying to catch him out. I know I can go after Whirlpool and D&G but I have my sights on the engineer because he lied and put me in danger with the flawed test. I’m livid he lied. I bristle when I read the insurer’s email. I posted on Trustpilot, (that’s not like me) and got a response from Whirlpool on the site, that was nonsensical and again referred me to get legal advice, but they watch Trustpilot intently and are fast to respond. Pity the poster wasn’t more articulate. He used the word advise three times in a sentence. I’m going to update what I wrote, but unfortunately I think one has to erase the first review to update. I want to keep my first one up longer before I update.
    Thank you Andy.

  4. Hi there

    I had a kitchen fitted in February 2019 with a Beko washing machine/dryer. I am a single person. Now, first of all, I know Beko is a fairly cheap make and there has been lockdown (maybe more washing), but just before Christmas, it started really moving about and making a loud aeroplane-taking-off noise especially in spin mode! I asked someone to look at it as it’s out of warranty, and they said the drum was broken and I should replace it. However, I feel, even a cheaper washing machine should last longer than 2 years and 10 months. Beko are not being helpful at all. Any suggestions about if this is possible to be fixed/replaced without me having to pay.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Shona. The manufacturer doesn’t have any obligations under consumer law. Only the retailer. I would agree that even a Beko should last longer than 2 yrs 10 months if it’s only been used to wash for one person.

      The average life span of a washing machine is reportedly about 7 years these days. The only people you can complain to is the people you bought it from. If it was a kitchen installer they tend to be even worse than retailers at complying with the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

      In theory you should be entry to a free repair but the reality is that we are left to fight with reluctant retailers. The best advice is to get help from Citizens advice or Which?

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