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. i do have a faulty integrate fridge AEG, i bought this fridge because it supposed to be low noise, not the fridge star for over 1 hr making lots of noise and i cant sleep at night, my room is about 10 mtr from the fridge and you still can hear the noise of the fridge,
    i call the AEG and the sent CHELMSFORD CENTRE RESPOND SERVICE
    the came to check and said they cant stay all day waiting for the noise, they cam the second time and i had it recorder and they said is normal, how this is going to be normal if is like to have a air plain on you house.

    i have call AEG and they don’t care, fridge is still under guaranty and i don’t know what to do.

  2. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello luis. Modern fridges and freezers do make a lot more noise than refrigeration appliances of the past because they have fans that blow the air around. However, if they ice up at the back behind the back wall (which you can’t see) then the fan can catch on enclosing ice. This is a fault that definitely needs fixing. Please read my article here fridge or freezer noisy for better description. If your noise sounds like a fan catching on something then it is a fault. But if the noises you can hear our sound of a fan running, or occasional cracking as described in the article them it may well be that it is normal now.

  3. Hi, I am having sone issues with Sony Customer service for around 1 year now.

    My Sony TV “under 5 year warranty” has been turning its self off and on, sometimes in the middle of the night, intermittently.

    Sony has replied every time with the same questions (is there any external devices, when does it happen, is the TV updated ect) As it’s been a year Iv gone through three updates now with the same problem happening. Finally after 1 year they have said they will send an engineer out. However they stated if they can not find the problem then I would have to pay the inspection fee!!!!

    I mean it’s been a year of constant badgering them and sending updates ect and they have the nerve to say they would charge me.

    What can I do here?

    Thanks

  4. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Chris. Your issue is exactly what this article addresses so all my advice is actually in the article really. You should definitely be switching it off at the mains during the night as TVs are still a potential fire risk when left on standby, as well as still using some electricity. The manufacturer’s reaction is exactly the same as everyone else’s and is why I wrote the article. They obviously hate when people phone them up under guarantee on a whim or when they haven’t read the instructions properly so this is what they threaten. My take on it is that it is just a threat to get rid of time wasters though I can’t guarantee that. I would expect that if they can genuinely see that there is an intermittent fault they would not try to charge. If they did you need to refuse and tell them you will take consumer advice. Ask them to prove that there is nothing wrong.

    Funny thing is my own TV went through two or three weeks of turning itself off randomly but because it was intermittent I didn’t do anything. It suddenly righted itself and hasn’t done it since.

  5. Hello Andy,

    Firstly let me thank you for your effort in setting up this Web site and offering information to protect us consumers, and your time in replying to people here.

    I was wondering if you would have a bit of time to opine on the situation below:

    A Whirlpool washer I bought developed noise after 6months. The engineer called out told me it was possibly due to us putting heavy things on top. We stopped doing that, but a few weeks later I noticed the noise again. I am guessing it is an intermittent problem, but Whirlpool wants to charge me the £60 call-out fee. They claim the engineers’ notes say there was a blockage in the pump; however I don’t remember him telling me anything of the sort.

    They are offering me insurance (£7/month, month-to-month contract, cancellable at any time) that would automatically cover this call-out charge. It would also cover any other call-out charges that may arise in the future.

    I’m tempted to take up their offer and cancel after a month or two (after I’ve had another engineer visit to look at the problem again).

    Alternative would be to flat out refuse to pay (absence of proof is not proof of absence, problem is still there, likely an intermittent issue, etc) and do not request any other visit (not having confidence they will find the root cause).

    What would you do? (if you were not a technical specialist).

    Many thanks Andy

    What would you do

  6. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hi Alain. It’s possible that the engineer put down there was a blockage in the pump so that he didn’t have to charge you (that is if they have a policy of not charging for a blockage, which they could technically do). I would imagine if the engineer had put down that you were placing things on top of the washing machine – and that was the cause of the noise – then he would have been obliged to charge you. That sort of thing would not be covered under any guarantee.

    £7 a month doesn’t sound too bad but it is a bad deal long-term because it means £84 a year, £840 (plus increases) over 10 years. I think the best advice would be to get video evidence of it on a phone as I mention in my article. As discussed also my article the problem is that engineers no longer have the time to properly investigate intermittent faults. Engineers are working under tremendous pressure of time and if they go to any house and the fault described by the customer is not able to be seen within a few minutes they will not investigate properly. They will either guess at apart or just fob the customer off with something. It’s a shame but to be fair you can’t blame them when they have so many jobs to do and often such big areas to cover.

    However, having said that, that is of no use to a customer and the manufacturer should be obliged to provide a much better service than this!

    So I would keep on using the washing machine and make sure you record the noise if and when it happens again. That will at least give an engineer something to work with. Noises are notoriously difficult to describe to another person. However you have only referred to it as a “noise”. What kind of a noise is it by the way?

  7. Hey Andy,

    Here is a recent video with the sound (grinding sound during spinning, especially from 22 seconds ie): https://1drv.ms/v/s!ApT9czE40E0WgbxR_jTRk4OeSF16BQ

    As for the insurance, my thinking is the benefit would be to get another visit with the assurance not to have to pay anything whatever the outcome (root cause found or not), but I would cancel it very quickly (I also agree it would not be not good at all in the long term).

    Or I simply refuse to pay, and do not get another visit, and live with the problem (which arguably is not to bad).

  8. Andy Trigg (Whitegoodshelp)

    Hello Alain. Thanks for the video, that shows how useful it is to be able to capture an intermittent problem. I’m pretty sure that this noise is caused by a coin or something metallic that has got inside the washing machine. I would not use it again until it is fixed. This is because most modern washing machines only have a plastic outer drum and a coin can get punched through and essentially write-off the whole washing machine.

    I would doublecheck whether a foreign obstruction inside the washing machine is covered by your insurance. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if it is not. The reason the noise is intermittent is because typically a coin or other metallic object moves around and can sometimes not be whipped up. It can often depend on how heavy the load inside is and just pure chance. The object tends to get tossed and thrown around during spin. To be honest it doesn’t sound like a big coin like a pound or 50p but it definitely sounds metallic and if it does turn out to be something stuck in the washing machine it can damage the outer drum.

    Check out this article which may be helpful how to remove something stuck in the washing machine drum

  9. Hi Andy,

    I wanted to update you. I had decided to take the insurance option for a little while just so as not to have to fight with Whirlpool on the call-out fee, but mostly have the opportunity to get another engineer to come in to look at the problem again. Thanks for raising the strong possibility of the insurance not covering a foreign object inside the machine. The Whirlpool staff confirmed to me that the insurance would indeed cover a foreign object inside the machine (excludes malicious damage, cosmetic damage, and indirect consequences) , so it sounded to me like an easy way to solve that problem at little cost (assuming I cancel the insurance soon)

    The new engineer found the issue: turned out it was not a coin, but it was the screws that stabilise the drum in transport. The installers had not removed them fully, and they were rattling against the drum occasionally.

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