Law guide: Complaints & disputes

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Appliances

Appliances

Contents

If you buy electrical goods, such as a toaster, washing machine, microwave, or television, they must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for their purpose; and
  • as described.

You can find out more about your rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

When an item is faulty

Note that different rules apply depending on whether you bought the item before or after 1 October 2015.

Purchases made before 1 October 2015

Before use

When you buy an appliance that was faulty before you used it, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund unless you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the appliance when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it.

Whether you're entitled to a full refund depends on whether you've 'accepted' the appliance.

The Sale of Goods Act states that you have a 'reasonable time' to examine goods after buying them before they're regarded as being 'accepted' by you. It doesn't specifically state how long a 'reasonable time' is; it depends on factors such as how often you use the goods, the type of fault (e.g. whether it is obvious or not) and whether you've continued to use the goods despite knowing they're faulty.

If you've accepted the appliance, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. The seller is entitled to refuse either of these if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative. Whatever solution is agreed, it shouldn't result in undue inconvenience to you.

After minimal use

If you only used the appliance a few times before a fault arose, you may be entitled to a refund (assuming that you didn't have a reasonable opportunity to examine the appliance when buying it and the fault wasn't so obvious that you should have noticed it). However, you'll only be entitled to a refund if the goods haven't been accepted (see above).

Alternatively, you may request that the appliance be repaired or replaced. If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it's reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be completed to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard, you're entitled to seek a refund.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the appliance to request a repair or replacement, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the appliance was faulty unless the seller can prove otherwise. If you're asking for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will be on you to prove that the appliance was faulty at the time of sale.

After frequent use

If you've used the appliance more than a few times or had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you might not qualify for a refund, but you may be still entitled to a repair or replacement. A repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you significant inconvenience. Any repair should restore goods to a satisfactory condition. If the appliance isn't restored to a satisfactory condition, you should be entitled to a partial refund. (It will be less than the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the appliance.)

If the appliance can't be replaced or repaired

If the appliance can't be replaced or repaired economically, you're entitled to a refund. The seller can make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the appliance.

Purchases made on or after 1 October 2015

The right to reject

When you buy an appliance that's faulty, you'll be entitled to a full refund within 30 days starting on the first day after all the below has happened:

  • You became the owner of the appliance
  • It was delivered
  • The seller confirmed the installation has been completed (where the contract says that it will be installed)

You won't be entitled to a refund if you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the appliance when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it or if the seller informed you of the fault before you bought it. You also won't be able to claim a refund if the only issue is that the goods were not installed correctly.

If you request the seller to repair or replace the item within the 30-day period, then the 30-day time limit will be paused. When the item has been repaired or replaced, you will then have the remainder of the 30-day period or 7 days (depending on which one is longer) to check if the repair or replacement has been successful and decide whether to accept or reject it.

It'll be up to you to prove there is something wrong with the appliance if the seller doesn't accept this.

A refund must be given within 14 days of the seller agreeing that you are entitled to it.

The right to a repair, replacement or refund

If you don't want a refund or aren't entitled to one you can request that the appliance be repaired or replaced without being charged for it if it won't cause you significant inconvenience.

The seller is entitled to refuse either of these options if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative or if it would be impractical.

A repair or replacement should be completed within a reasonable time. A repair should be done to a satisfactory standard and a replacement should be of satisfactory quality.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the appliance to request a repair, replacement or refund, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the appliance was faulty unless the seller is able to prove otherwise.

Price reduction or refund

You'll be entitled to reject the appliance and ask for a price reduction or refund if any of the below apply:

  • the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard
  • the replacement is of unsatisfactory quality
  • the seller refuses to repair or replace the appliance because the cost of doing so would be excessive or because it would be impractical
  • the repair or replacement was not provided within a reasonable time or caused you significant inconvenience

You'll be entitled to a price reduction or you can reject the appliance, depending on whether you choose to keep it. If you choose to keep it, you can claim a reduction in price, which must be an amount that's appropriate to your circumstances and could be the whole price.

If you reject the appliance then you should get a full or partial refund. This will depend on whether the seller will take any use of the item into account.

If the fault caused additional expense

If the appliance has damaged anything else or you're out of pocket in any other way, you may be entitled to compensation over and above the price of the appliance.

Important points to bear in mind

  • If you're entitled to a refund, replacement, repair or compensation, it's the seller who must sort out your problem. The seller can't tell you to go back to the manufacturer.
  • If you bought on credit, you may be able to claim against the finance company.
  • You have 14 calendar days to cancel a contract for goods ordered by telephone, mail order, internet or fax, except for goods that are made to order.
  • All electrical goods need to be used and looked after in line with any instructions.
  • Fair wear and tear isn't a fault.

If things go wrong

If there is a problem with the electrical goods you've bought, you should do the following:

  • If you can, stop using the goods at once.
  • Check there really is a fault - read the instructions carefully.
  • Be sure that the fault wasn't caused by misuse, an accident or by not following the instructions.
  • If you can, collect any instructions, leaflets, packaging etc. that came with the goods. Pack them all up with the goods.
  • Find your proof of purchase. If you haven't got a receipt, you can use a credit card voucher or cheque stub. Own-brand goods, something exclusive to one shop (like a customised carrier bag) or the packaging may prove where you bought the item. If someone was with you when you bought it, they can back you up. Remember, it's up to you to show where and when you bought the goods.
  • You now need to contact the seller straight away and report the problem. Take the item, the packaging (if possible) and any proof of purchase with you. If you can't take the goods back to the shop, either phone or write to the seller.

Gas appliances

In addition, you should bear in the mind the following considerations in relation to gas appliances:

  • All gas appliances need to be used and looked after in line with any instructions.
  • Gas leaks should be reported immediately to National Grid.
  • For safety reasons, all gas appliances must be fitted by a registered GasSafe installer.

It's against the law for anyone to use a gas appliance that they think may be unsafe.