We hope you won't have to use this section but it will prove very
useful if you do!
Rights: When you buy something from a retailer you have
rights under the Sale of Goods Act often referred to as your statutory
rights. The law states that when you buy goods, they must meet the
description given, be fit for purpose and be of satisfactory quality. In
practice this means that not only must it do what it is supposed to do
but it must also be in good condition, free of faults, safe, and must
last a reasonable length of time.
The definition of a 'reasonable
time' varies from product to product but you can make a claim on
anything up to six years after you've purchased it (except in Scotland,
where the limit is five years). And crucially if you do have a claim it
is the retailer - not necessarily the manufacturer - who is liable.
To make a claim any breakdown has to be the result of a defect that
was present at the time of purchase even if you weren't previously aware
of it. So if an electronics product has defective soldering when you buy
it you may not realise this until it causes a problem later on but you
should still be able to make a claim because the product wasn't of
Problems: Because of the implicit ambiguities you
wouldn't expect retailers automatically to offer to fix any product for
free. However you might expect them to admit that they may be
responsible for repairing the fault for free. Unfortunately this is
rarely the case. A recent
Which? survey found that barely more
than 10% of shops responded to an out of guarantee claim by
acknowledging that a free repair might be possible under appropriate
Claiming: If you think you have a claim, be persistent.
Don't expect help from the shop where you bought the goods. Follow
this advice from Which?
Contact head office: Save yourself some grey
hairs by contacting the head office first. Be firm, explain that you
think your product hasn't lasted a reasonable amount of time and say
that you'd like it investigated and repaired or replaced if it turns out
to be faulty.
The evidence: If the goods are less than six months old,
it's up to the retailer to prove that the fault wasn't present at the
time of purchase. For anything older the seller is entitled to ask you
to provide evidence of the fault. This isn't difficult you just need to
contact an independent repairer and ask them to produce a report. It
shouldn't be too expensive and if you have a successful case you should
be able to claim back up to £200 from the retailer in the small claims
The repair: Once you know that the problem is caused by
a manufacturing fault ask the retailer to repair or replace your
appliance. If the cost of doing this is disproportionate the retailer
can offer a refund instead. This might not be a full refund
depending on how much you've used the product. If you don't want to wait
for the retailer to assess your claim you can pay someone else to fix
the item. As long as they provide evidence of a manufacturing fault
you'll be able to claim the cost of repair from the retailer.
If all else fails: If you have a claim that the retailer
won't settle, you can take them to the small claims court. The judge can
order the retailer to settle the claim and pay legal costs.
Hopefully, things will never get that far. But, until shops sort
their act out you might have to force them to respect your statutory
rights - because you'll probably know more about the subject than they