Basic guidance on how warranties work in the appliance industry and what to expect
Many people seem to get really confused about warranties or guarantees when it comes to appliances and quite probably other goods that they buy as well and in this article what we want to try to do is demystify some of it for you and offer a little simple clarity on what a manufacturer's warranty is and what it will actually cover you for.
This article is written specifically about large domestic appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, fridge freezers and so on but the same legislation applies to almost any products that you buy from an £8 toaster to a £200,000 Ferrari.
Please also realise that this article is not intended as legal advice in any way, if you have a dispute please seek specific advice on your individual case. This article is general advice and notes from experience within the domestic appliance industry.
We may appear here to be being not pro-customer as such but we actually are. What we're trying to do in a lot of the articles like this is show you what to expect and what you will probably have to do in order to prove your case and get the result that you want. This as opposed to wasting a whole heap of time trying to acheive unattainable results because of the expectation put in many people's heads be glorified cases in the media.
If you have a solid case and grounds for compaining you will win but, most companies in our experience within the appliance industry, are pretty reasonable on the whole and, so are the warranty terms that we discuss here.
In Addition To Your Statutory Rights
You may well have seen this added onto the manufacturer warranty on almost any product you buy or a variation of the phrase, "This warranty is offered in addition to your statutory rights".
What this means is that the warranty is not a replacement for your rights as a consumer in law, in the UK that would be covered by the Sale of Good Act (SoGA) which defines your rights as a customer in UK law.
In practical terms this means that the manufacturer or importer of the product is offering an additional guarantee above that which you are entitled to in law. The SoGA does offer considerable protection but as it covers well, virtually everything that is sold, the scope of it is very broad and it tends not to be too specific outside of certain key points.
Which? has a really good and very informative section on your rights under the SoGA that explains your rights well that you can peruse using this link
But the core of this is, a manufacturer's warranty doesn't actually entitle you to anything outside the scope of the warranty conditions.
What that means is that, if it's in the warranty that the manufacturer will not pay for certain things, such as blockages, user faults and so on then it's up to you to foot the tab for it or, you get your retailer to do so.
Refunds And Exchanges
As yet we have not come across many (if any) warranties from a manufacturer or retailer that, in the case of domestic appliances, will offer the automatic right to a refund or an exchange if there's a problem. If that's what you are seeking then it's an conversation that you will need to have with your retailer, not the manufacturer.
The exception of course would be if your warranty conditions specifically say that the manufacturer or brand owner will offer this feature as a part of their warranty. Very few will.
If the retailer offers such a deal then that's part of your contract with them, not the manufacturer.
This makes getting a refund or an exchange out of many manufacturers nigh on impossible and remember, manufacturers only made a very small percentage of the money that you paid to someone else so their motivation isn't exactly high to pick up the costs of doing this. You can see how little they are likely to be making on a sale in our washing machine cost breakdown
Also keep in mind the cost of an exchange, it will often be about £200 plus the cost of the product for a home delivery and installation, removal and return then disposal so, manufacturers won't fall over themselves to do a direct exchange. If the retailer does it, no cost to the manufacturer and it really is the retailer's responsibility in the end to do that for their customer.
Passing The Buck
When things start to go sideways with appliances we often see a lot of buck passing and people getting the runaround, thankfully it isn't common and certainly far less common than it was years ago but it can still happen on occasion.
So long as you keep your cool and don't start acting like a manic person you can navigate through this game of blame ping-pong quite easily usually.
What you get from the retailer is that it's the manufacturer's problem or it's the engineer's fault.*
What you get from the manufacturer is that it's the retailer.**
The fact is that your contract of sale under the SoGA is with whoever that you paid your money to. If that was a retailer (shop, website etc.) then it is the retailer's responsibility to deal with any issues other than a warranty repair and a few other bits and bobs. If it was the manufacturer direct, it's their problem.
Ordinarily if you have a problem our advice would always be to badger the retailer, whoever you paid your money to as it's up to them to resolve the problem.
As a side note, the actual service engineer usually has little or nothing to do with any dispute, they just report what they find and act accordingly as instructed. But we wouldn't recommend "having a go" at the engineer as they won't have much influence and are usually powerless to help in any disputes.
* The retailer won't exchange often until they get authority from the manufacturer that they will receive a credit for the exchanged product
** The retailer is responsible and the manufacturer often is powerless to exchange or refund goods other than to their customer, who is the retailer or distributor
Also note that all this can take time, especially with larger corporations, as any action will normally have to be signed off by several people before anything actually happens and organising these things will involve several processes that, if not followed, will only mean it takes even longer.
What Your Warranty Does Cover
Usually for kitchen appliances, electrical and mechanical breakdown.
That's about it.
If a part fails and needs replaced it will usually be done free of charge but, if you damage it by spilling something on the machine, whacking it one, putting it in damp conditions and it rusts, pipes to it freeze, put something in it that shouldn't be, clean it with something you shouldn't or just about anything else that does not come under that umbrella of "electrical or mechanical breakdown", expect a bill.
You can find more on what is not usually cover in this article about what is and isn't covered but, that's about the size of it above.
Manufacturers can guarantee their products to a reasonable degree, ensure that they are safe and perform the functions that they should do but, beyond that, they normally won't offer to pick up any costs. And, what they won't do, is pay to resolve user generated faults in normal circumstances.
If you read the warranty conditions that are usually in your instruction leaflet or, increasingly, published online on the manufacturer's website, you will normally find quite exhaustive terms and conditions but, for the sake of simplicity, take it as read that most will be along the lines above. If not, they'll usually make a big deal out of the fact that they offer something nobody else does and use it as a sales tool.
This is why things like Currys "Whatever Happens" policies have things in them like covering you for accidental damage, an automatic exchange after a period of time and so on, it fills in the gaps between the manufacturer's warranty and the SoGA. Of course, that additional service comes at a price and the decision for you as a customer is, do you want to pay an additional £5 a month or whatever it is or, do you want to take the chance that you won't muck up your machine?
Most people seem to want the lower upfront cost rather than making the choice to pay an additional fee to cover the risk or, insure against that risk.