In my experience as an engineer working on washing machines under a manufacturer’s guarantee, a substantial percentage of calls may be to faults not covered by the guarantee. The most common by far is obstructions from items (usually coins) left in pockets blocking the pump. Under these circumstances, an engineer is entitled to or even expected to charge the customer. Often they will get commission on all money collected as an incentive.
In practice, a percentage of customers do get away with coins in the pump and other “false” guarantee calls for the following reasons –
- The engineer doesn’t want the hassle and stress of a potential argument so he makes something up which is covered
- The company has a goodwill policy of not charging (usually for first incident only) This is much more likely if you bought the washing machine from the company who have sent out the engineer
- The customer has an extended warranty policy, which covers "accidental" damage and the fault (coins left in pockets) comes under this cover
- It can’t be proved that the customer is to blame
- The engineer can’t find a fault and just puts down something for the paperwork
- The customer is using the washing machine incorrectly or doesn’t understand certain aspects of it and the engineer just advises them (goodwill again)
There is no guarantee you would not be charged though. If you negligently leave coins inside pockets and damage the washing machine you can't logically argue you should not be charged. If you don't read the instruction book properly why should a company pay for an engineer to come out and educate you? It's worth remembering that engineers can earn commission on all chargeable work and some are not afraid to charge.
Are you covered by your house contents insurance? Coins can virtually write off many modern washing machines because they can punch through the plastic outer tub resulting in a repair bill that may be very uneconomical. If your washing machine has been damaged by coins, you may find the repair company want to charge you as this clearly isn’t covered under the washing machine's guarantee. If you took out an extended repair warranty, then you may be covered for accidental damage (check the small print). If not, and you have household insurance that covers accidental damage you may be able to claim from that policy.
What if the engineer finds no fault?
Usually when booking a repair they warn customers that if their engineer finds nothing wrong they will charge you – this concerns a lot of people and I’ve written an article about it here – Appliance under guarantee but repair company want to charge if engineer cant find fault