Spare Parts & The Law
We are often asked about what requirements that there are in law in respect to spare parts, especially what rights that there are towards availability of spares and also what rights people have in terms of a warranty on appliance spare parts.
The short of it is that, other than the Sale of Goods Act, there is no protection and very little guidance.
In this article we will look at the most frequently asked questions about spare parts and the law that we get asked about and explain things as best we can, as our understanding of the law will allow but do bear in mind that we are not solicitors and this is not intended as legal advice in any way.
Of course, the big problem here is that when buying a new cooker, washing machine or fridge freezer etc most people wouldn't think to ask about this and simply assume that spare parts would be available for a "reasonable period" and that they would be a "reasonable" price when the truth can often be somewhat different to that assumption.
Do Spare Parts Have To Be Available
Short answer, there is no legislation that states that spare parts have to be available for any set period of time that we can find, either in UK or EU legislation.
What this means is that, if you buy any appliance, a washing machine, tumble dryer, dishwasher or anything else the manufacturer or brand owner has no responsibility to ensure that spare parts are available for any set period at all and, you have no recourse in law to challenge a spare part not being available.
Now, although this might seem harsh, think about the brand owner that buys in products from a factory in Turkey, China or wherever and finds that they can no longer obtain a spare part because, the law in the country of origin is non-existent, how do they deal with it?
The fact and point is, that this doesn't just affect end users and owners that find they cannot get a spare part for a relatively young appliance, it actually has or can have a widespread knock-on effect for many, including brand owners and manufacturers.
Therefore if you are told that a spare part is no longer available, chances are there is little if anything that you can do about it, even on an appliance that is only just outside of its manufacturers warranty.
Spare Parts Six Year Rule
There has been some speculation that the "Six Year Rule" as it is known would affect this but, in reality, this is unlikely as that rule pertains to defects in the goods from new, not the fact that you cannot get the spare part to repair it. So that avenue would likely prove to be fruitless.
To our knowledge there used to be a voluntary agreement by the manufacturers that were members of AMDEA (Association of Manufacturers of Electrical Domestic Appliances) that spare parts would be available like this:
- Cosmetic or non-functional spare parts - Available for eight years after production ceases
- Functional spare parts - Available for ten years after productions ceases
Some years later however, again to the best or our knowledge, this was altered to read as follows:
- Cosmetic or non-functional spare parts - Available for six years after production ceases
- Functional spare parts - Available for eight years after productions ceases
Now however, AMDEA say in their current guidance (2012) for consumers that:
The manufacturer will endeavour to provide functional components so that appliances may be serviced throughout the product’s expected life. Different products have different life spans – and even two identical products can have varying life spans, depending on usage. If components are not available, they will discuss and agree an alternative solution with you – if this involves discounting the price of a replacement product, account will be taken of the use you have had of the original product up to that time. Remember some parts are manufactured by other companies and the manufacturers themselves will not have total control of the component parts supply past the cessation of production.
As a guide manufacturers try and retain functional spares for as long as there is a market for them and in most cases, well beyond. Due to the vast array of product types and the purchase price, the life cycle of all products can vary and therefore so can the length of time parts are to be supplied.
In other words, all bets are off and there is no guarantee that spares will be available for any length of time. And, almost all the major manufacturers are signed up to this so expect the same answer from them all.
So when you hear about spare parts having to be made available for any period of time, so far as we can tell, it is a myth.
But at least the AMDEA members as well as most "reasonable" appliance brands at least have a policy, even if it isn't very good in some cases. Many large retailers with their own brands (or bought brands) and supermarkets etc have absolutely no policy for spare parts supply at all. Nothing. Zip. Nadda.
That means you could buy a machine and, after 12 months be unable to do anything with it other than to throw it out and buy a new one. Even for something as trivial as a door catch.
Not a good environmental policy never mind customer care.
Why Spare Parts Matter When Buying New
When you buy a new domestic appliance be aware of one thing. It is a machine, all machines eventually breakdown.
At some point in it's life every single appliance will require to either be repaired or have a spare part replaced. This is an absolute fact with the only alternative being replacement.
And, in this respect AMDEA are absolutely correct in the above quote, how long it will be before the appliance breaks will come down to the use of it, in terms of how the appliance is used and how much it is used coupled with what sort of quality that it is.
The question that you should be asking is, what is the maker's policy on spare parts availability?
What we find is that a lot of the "no-name" brands that spring up in the local discount centre or supermarket and, even from some larger online retailers offer little in the way of ongoing support for the products that they sell. The reality is that service and spares costs money and one way to cut prices up front is to remove that infrastructure and, this is exactly what some will do.
Now, if you are buying a cheap appliance to last a couple of years this might not matter to you all that much but, if you are buying a kitchen full of new appliances and your kitchen is tailored around those products, especially integrated washing machines, fridge, freezers, cooker hoods even a range cooker and so on then you want to be absolutely sure that ten years down the road that you won't have to rip out and replace your kitchen to accommodate a new appliance.
Not choosing your appliances wisely could cost you a fortune later.
Spare Parts Legislation
In conclusion we cannot find any legislation on the subject of any real relevance and not many people are really all that interested unless they have been affected by a spare not being available or, you work with spare parts in some way as we do as service engineers and a spares seller.
There is also no legislation whatsoever or, even guidelines on what a spare part should cost in relation to the original purchase price of the goods. So, you can be charged anything at all, there are no rules.
If anyone does find any relevant legislation, we'd love to hear from you.