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  Commercial Use

If you are using a domestic appliance at a business you better read this!


We often come across people that require a repair to an appliance where the appliance is on commercial property and the fault not covered under warranty.

This can lead to a debate with the owner about the use that the appliance is being put to but, the short answer from most manufacturers (if not all) is that they make domestic appliances for domestic residences and normal domestic use.

Usually laundry appliances throw this up more such as washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers but we do on occasion see cookers, ovens and refrigeration as well.

  Why No Warranty

There are several good reasons why a domestic appliance manufacturer will not offer a warranty when their products are installed on commercial property. Normally, any extended domestic appliance warranty will likely not cover you on any type of commercial premises either.

A typical commercail laundry room with domestic size machinesThe first reason is that they have no idea what sort of use the machine is being subjected to, what is being washed and what detergents or whatever are being used.

These alone can fall way outside what would be classed as normal use.

Then is the level of use the appliances are put to.

Most domestic appliances are built for normal family use, most manufacturers will work to the "average" family which is, as an example, working to 250-280 washing cycles per year for a normal washing machine. A washing machine that is asked to do much more than this is considered to be abnormal or high use.

Now consider that, in a commercial environment, there can be many different users many of whom may not be familiar with the appliance and, as it isn't theirs, have little regard or care for the machine.

This is borne out by the fact that appliances in commercial premises suffer from more "abuse" failures like broken doors, control knobs and so on and way, way more blockages etc due to a lack of routine customer maintenance. Our figures suggest that over 80% of all reported calls in commercial premises would not be covered by the warranty anyway, regardless of whether it was a commercial product or not.

These factors are the basic principles as to why almost universally you will not be offered a warranty on domestic appliances in a commercial setting.

  Appliance Cost

When you go looking for appliances that are suitable for full commercial use you will find that they are considerably more expensive than their domestic cousins. The reason for this is very simple, they are built to be much, much tougher in order to withstand more abuse.

You will often find that they have less programs, none of the fancy (and often useless) features that are commonly offered on domestic appliances and they will not generally have any more than a year's warranty, at best.

And, they will usually cost several times the amount what equivalent domestic machine would.

Build quality, durability and reliability cost money.

  Commercial Premises

As a general rule within the industry and property that is a business address or that a business is operated from (often even adjacent properties with some farms etc.) will be considered a commercial use situation.

This would include the following as examples, but not an exhaustive list:

  • Pubs (including any on-site accommodation)
  • Offices
  • Industrial Units
  • Working farms (including on-site/adjacent residences)
  • Bed & Breakfast Locations
  • Rented Properties
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Nurseries
  • Schools
  • Nursing homes 

All of these locations, as well as others, would qualify as being classed as commercial locations.

Even a flat above a pub is considered to be a commercial location as, for example, it is often the case that items from the business are washed in the landlord's washing machine.

The general rule of thumb normally applies, if you are on a property that a business operates from, commercial use will be assumed.

There are seldom any exceptions.

If you do manage to get an exception our advice is to get it agreed in writing before you buy the products or sign up to a warranty agreement. If you do not then it is entirely possible that it could be reversed later.

  Commercial Use At Home

It is not uncommon to see appliances receiving almost (if not) commercial levels of use in a residential property.

Each manufacturer, insurer and warranty company will often act differently when this happens and it is a lot harder to deal with.

Our advice here that we can't stress enough to you is, make sure that you explain your needs to the retailer before you buy so that they can advise accordingly.

If you just walk into a store or click the "Buy Now" button without explaining your needs correctly then don't be too shocked when, if you use the "fit for purpose" argument if it all goes wrong, that you broke the contract of sale by not defining the use that the machine was intended for.

In other words, if you have any needs outside the norm, explain it and make sure it is noted.

The same goes for the likes of pets or equestrian needs and so on.

As an example consider the following;

If you breed dogs that cast hair and often wash dog blankets or bedding then the chances are that you would have a lot more dog hair in your washing machine and/or tumble dryer than a normal family would. It this blocks up the machines or causes any issues it is likely that the warranty wouldn't cover it as it is considered not to be "normal" use.

Do bear in mind that this is an example, most blockages aren't covered by any warranty, but the point is that this is more likely in the above scenario.

Again, take this sort of requirement consideration when buying.

The best analogy is to think that if you went into a Ferrari showroom and bought a car then took it back to the dealer complaining that you couldn't drive it across a field and, when you tried it, that you'd ripped off the exhaust and caused other damage that you wanted repaired for free. Anyone with common sense would understand the most likely reaction from the dealer.

If you'd bought a Land Rover, no problem.

You need to buy an appliance that is suitable for your needs and, if you cannot afford that, then you have to live with the compromise.

  Rental Property

Most often people that rent, especially private landlords, do not realise that any appliance in a rental property is immediately classed as commercial use.

When you think about it, it makes sense.

The appliance is "on hire" by the landlord to another party as part of a commercial arrangement. The landlord has no way to know if the appliance is being maintained correctly, used correctly or even the level of use that it could be being subjected to. But, apart from that, experience teaches that tennents often hold little respect for the appliances in a rented accomodation.

Many warranties in the industry will have an exclusion for this specifically but, if not, it is still covered under the commercial use as the landlord is hiring out the product regardless of how you slice it.

  How The Internet Helps Find Cheats

There are a lot of people that try to cheat the system here by claiming that the machines aren't used commercially, they are not on commercial property and so on but, in recent times, this has become harder and harder for people that are trying to cheat the system.

With the advance of technologies such as Google Streetview et all manufacturers, insurance companies and warranty companies have sussed that they can search and see where an address is.

Not only can they see the address, they can search for business listings at the address as well where they suspect that an appliance is being used either commercially or on commercial property.

As soon as something out of the ordinary occurs, chances are that you will be searched.

Cheating the system these days is extremely difficult.

Most companies in the industry are far from stupid and have seen most things before.

  False Warranty Claims

If you get caught claiming that the appliance that you are using is for domestic use only and the warranty provider finds that this is not the case, chances are that your warranty will be cancelled with immediate effect. Whether under a manufacturer, insurer or extended warranty plan this is highly likely to be the outcome.

Bear in mind though that for most warranties use on commercial premises is expressly forbidden or the warranty is invalidated. You were warned, if you didn't read the terms and conditions that the warranty was offered under then guess who's fault that is!

Also remember that, if you do buy a domestic appliance, use it on commercial premises or in a commercial setting then try to claim that it is domestic use you could basically be committing fraud.

Yes, that's right, it is a criminal offense should the defrauded party wish to press charges.

We would, for obvious reasons, strongly advise that you not do this.

  Options For Commercial Premises Or Use

Few if the truth be told.

An equestrian laundry room for washing riding gear, blankets and so onThe fact is that very few domestic appliances (the clue is in the name) are suitable for commercial use, they're simply not built for it. They tend to be built to a price and to meet the requirements of domestic use, not commercial use. So, in general, they're of no use in commercial premises and if it is for business use, do you want the hassle of fighting with everyone about it and the downtime? Can you even afford the downtime?

For most domestic appliances service is also (although often much cheaper) often a lot slower than a commercial service will be. But then, a business needs the machine back up and running ASAP, a machine in domestic use isn't quite so important.

Smaller manufacturers may be a bit more flexible on the warranty conditions and, providing that the levels of faults or calls are no more than normal they may let it slide. They don't have to, but they often will. Also, that can change if the problems or costs mount up.

ISE offered a "light commercial" warranty of three years that covers situations where you are on commercial premises and are washing normal laundry but, bear in mind that would not have covered for use issues and breakage as none will.

Beyond that, you are looking down the barrel of commercial appliances with commercial prices and maintenance costs. Or, you simply accept that, on a commercial property, you will probably have no warranty and take the risk on yourself.

S Humphreys
Domestic Cookers
Apart from invalidating manufacturer\'s warrantee is it illegal to install a domestic cooker in commercial environment by a qualified gas engineer?
Niall Lazenby
Pop-Up Shops
What rules does a pop-up shop have? I\'m looking at purchasing some display freezers from this company (www.refrigeration-freezers dot com/), and wondered if there are different regulations for a pop-up store, or whether they are the same as any normal store?

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