Repair company want to charge if engineer can’t find fault

This is a common threat when booking an appliance repair under guarantee or warranty. It’s usually even written in the instruction book. I try to view it as more of a threat that’s unlikely to be carried out or is unenforceable if challenged properly. However, many engineers will try to charge you.

It’s an argument you don’t want to get involved in if possible. The main idea is to discourage people from calling out an engineer unnecessarily, which does happen a lot.

So you should not call a repairman out because you think it would be an idea to get a free check up just before the guarantee runs out. Don’t call out an engineer if something strange happens just the once, unless it seemed serious. The guarantee doesn’t cover free check ups or give a free call out service.

Try to get evidence of an intermittent fault

Helpful White goods Tips If you are concerned that a fault on your washing machine may not show itself when the engineer visits, use your mobile phone camera, a digital camera or even a video camera to record any strange behaviour such as noises, leaks etc.

You can show this to the engineer if he claims there’s nothing wrong and tries to charge you.

You may have a fault but is it covered under the guarantee?

You should be aware that some intermittent “faults” on a washing machine could be caused by a badly loaded wash load. Many washing machines will not spin just one item or very small loads.

If your washing machine occasionally doesn’t spin at the end of the cycle check this article out – Washing machine won’t spin just one item or very small load

Many appliance problems can be caused by misuse, or not reading the instruction manual properly. So you should be as sure as possible that you are using the appliance properly and you understand all the do’s and don’ts in the instruction manual.

Engineers don’t normally want hassle

An appliance engineer has to declare on the paperwork what the fault was. “No fault found” might not be an option for an engineer without charging the customer. But many engineers don’t want to argue with customers.

Nor do they want to demand payment from someone who’s adamant they shouldn’t have to pay. So if an engineer can’t find a fault they might make up a small fault that they’ve fixed. That’s not always a great idea though. The fault could reoccur right after they’ve left making them look incompetent.

They may sometimes just guess what part(s) may be responsible and either replace them or order them for a repeat visit. Some engineers could be under pressure to charge customers or even be on commission. So it’s always possible an engineer will say there is no fault and try to get payment.

Are you sure it must be a fault on the appliance?

Are you are confident it is nothing you are doing wrong and that you know there is a fault? Then you have to decide whether to pay or not. You can try to insist that just because they didn’t find anything they can’t possibly say there is nothing wrong with the appliance.

This may work, especially if they haven’t been there very long. Ultimately you can’t prove there is something wrong but they can’t prove that there isn’t. That’s the problem.

If you do have an intermittent fault but the engineer can’t find it

If you genuinely have an intermittent fault but an engineer doesn’t find anything I would stand my ground and refuse to pay. Of course the big problem is can you be 100% sure? Make sure you tell them when you book the service call that the fault is intermittent.

Intermittent faults are notoriously difficult to find. All engineers understand that. Claiming that if a fault isn’t found it proves there is nothing wrong with the appliance is flawed logic.

Many engineers are pushed for time, and under a big work load. They can even be unfamiliar with the appliance (more common than you’d think). They can’t spend much time looking for an intermittent fault.

Under these circumstances, if an engineer is insisting on charging I would ask what compensation I would receive if the fault continues and is found at a later date.

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21 thoughts on “Repair company want to charge if engineer can’t find fault”

  1. My dishwasher stopped working so I contacted Indesit – it was out of guarantee – they offered to repair it for £177 plus £70 call out. They then offered me, as an alternative to paying these charges, a series of different ‘policies’ and I chose one just for the dishwasher for £19.41/month since I’m a 76yr old pensioner and on low income since the huge repair and call out fees worried me at the time when i was on the phone. When the engineer came he could find nothing wrong with the machine but said the electric plug socket was faulty (he put this on his report) and he wasn’t allowed to touch that. I was told if I cancel this policy I would have to pay for the ‘repair and the call out. There was no repair since there was nothing wrong with the machine itself. I have decided that this policy was too expensive and I want to cancel it – can I argue that no repair was needed so no charge was accrued and I will only pay for the call out.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Doreen. You should have an automatic 14 days cooldown period where you can cancel a contract without penalty. You would presumably owe them the £70 call out charge though. Those prices are horrendous.

      1. Thank you your prompt reply. I intend writing to them and cancelling my policy. I will pay the call out but will tell them that I believed the engineer should have checked outside influences i.e. the electrical supply through the machine plug first – he said the on off switch was temperamental after he had pulled the machine out and checked it over. Thanks for your advice x

  2. I bought a dishwasher in December a couple of months later it wouldn’t finish it’s program without stopping and giving an error code. The code refers to a drainage issue, the company have so far sent 2 engineers out who both tested the drainage and found no issue. This still doesn’t stop the fact everytime I put the dishwasher on it stops with this error, but still the company say no fault was found. Now they say they are sending one more engineer “as a courtesy” anymore I will have to pay for. I have set them video evidence, I don’t know what else to do.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi Mathew. As I describe in my article, just because they don’t find anything, that doesn’t remotely show there is no fault on the dishwasher. They must know that, it’s just logical common sense. Unless they are confident enough to accuse you of making the whole thing up, then they have to accept there is a fault.

      If two engineers have failed to find a fault (with what I assume was just basic checks), then they have to accept that they have got to change the way they are approaching this. Intermittent faults, or faults that only happen after the appliance has been on for a long time, need a lot more time and patience, and a lot more proactive diagnostics and testing.

      Obviously it’s very difficult for them, they rely very much on being able to do as many jobs in a day as possible, which usually means spending as little time as possible on each appliance. This is especially true if they are a third party company covering in-guarantee work for a manufacturer. They work on very small margins, and may only get paid for one visit. So they are probably in a position now where they know that they have lost money on this job, and there is little chance of recouping it. Even if the engineers are from the manufacturer, this job is proving very expensive for them.

      However, it is disingenuous of them to threaten you with charges. They need to either come out and call you a liar, or they need to fix the fault – whatever it takes, or they need to have the machine written off and replaced. The only way they could possibly charge you legitimately, is if the fault was eventually found, and it turned out to be caused by some faulty plumbing, installation, or user error.

      If you have given them video evidence, and you keep calling them back because the problem persists, then they 100% know there is a fault. They also must accept that they cannot find the fault during normal (usually under time-pressure) visits then they need to allow an engineer a lot more time to check it through properly. Maybe even speculatively replace one or more parts that an experienced engineer can identify as being the main possible suspect’s given the specific error code that displays.

      Some fault’s only happen when something heats up or has been running for a long time. So another option, which is one I used myself many times, is that with a fault that only seems to happen at the end of a cycle, I would ring the customer prior to setting off. I’d ask them to put the appliance on, using the exact same procedure that they normally do, so that by the time I arrived, the appliance had already been on an hour or so, or may have already failed with the error code.

      I would also try to get even more video evidence. Help them out by also writing down exactly which cycle you put the dishwasher on, which option buttons you selected, and crucially – how long had the dishwasher been running before it broke down?

      You should put some time aside to watch the whole wash cycle, or at the very least ensure that you regularly check on it. It may be inconvenient, but if it helps to get to the bottom of the fault, it will be well worth the effort.

      When it breaks down, film the error code and display, open the door, show the insides. Is there water inside, for example? Is it warm inside? Are there soap suds inside? Gain as much information as you possibly can to try to help an engineer to diagnose the issue.

  3. Thank you for the rather detailed reply. I have done much of what you suggested, and I aim to start the program when the engineer texts to say they are on the way. This is the – video I sent them

    It happens every time without fail on eco or intensive, not on express. Express works every time apart from straight after the error, which to me seems like something overheating or similar. Thanks again.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      Hi. Is there any sound on that video? I couldn’t get any. As an engineer I wanted to listen to what the dishwasher was doing just before it gave the error. Was it filling with water, if so, how long for? Was it draining? If so, how long for?

      If they had that video it’s pretty hard to understand what they are thinking saying they will charge you if they fail to find the fault.

  4. Because I sped it up it doesn’t have sound sorry. Both engineers thoroughly checked for drainage issues and found none and prior to contacting Sharp I put the waste hose into the sink to check it wasn’t the plumbing.
    I think I’m emailing an argumentative jobs worth tbh. I had to try and explain the definition of lier to him as he said he wasn’t calling me a lier he was just going off the information he’d been provided. I pointed out I had sent him evidence (information) of the fault and unless that is the intended purpose of the program then the dishwasher is faulty. He still protested that he wasn’t calling me a lier.
    I have never had issues like this before especially with a product that’s practically brand new.
    When the next engineer comes I’ll ask if he can word his report so there’s no doubt there is a fault but he doesn’t know how to fix it. That is what they have been telling me anyway, maybe they just didn’t want a disagreement. On their reports they have just been putting no fault found. If after the next engineer visit I get nowhere I’ll contact citizens advice I guess.

    1. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

      You could also consider trying to get a refund or replacement from the retailer under the consumer rights act 2015. If it cannot be repaired you should be entitled to a refund or replacement.

      However. They are just as likely to give you the runaround too unless you stay firm and they realise you can’t be fobbed off.

      Regarding the liar bit, they either believe you or they don’t. If they accept you have an actual fault – how can they possibly talk about charging you?

      1. I will try on both fronts (manufacturer and retailer) if it all goes sour after the next engineer visit.
        Thanks again for your advice

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