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Manufacturers must sell spare parts – it’s the law

From today, 1 July 2021, manufacturers of electrical goods are legally obliged for the first time to make spare parts for products available directly to consumers. This is being widely reported as a new legal right. The Government says:

“manufacturers required to make spare parts for products available for the first time – helping extend the lifespan of products by up to 10 years and preventing them ending up on the scrap heap sooner than they should.”

Electrical appliances to be cheaper to run and last longer with new standards Government website.

This is not really the full picture. It is a new legal right for when the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA) doesn’t already cover you. Under the CRA you are entitled to a full refund on items that are not of satisfactory quality, not as described, free from defects and last a reasonable length of time. You are entitled to a full refund up to 30 days from purchase and you have a right to repair or replacement after that time.

So, that right has been there for years. In fact, from 1979 with the now repealed Sale of Goods Act 1979!

The new law is aimed at manufacturers not the consumer so does not give them a right to repair.

Spares for repairs

The issue has been that manufacturers have been accused of deliberately making electrical goods not last a reasonable length of time whilst not making the parts available to repair machines. This in turn forces people buy new appliances. (Especially when consumers don’t know that they are entitled to a replacement from the retailer where they bought the item, if the item can’t be repaired!)

After what could be considered a reasonable length of time (see What is a warranty, a guarantee and what are my consumer rights?) consumers will now have access to spare parts where they couldn’t have done before.

The aim of this move is to improve the financial situation for consumers but also to reduce waste. About 1.5 million tonnes of electrical waste are generated every year in the UK.

What are your rights to repairs?

So, what are your consumer rights when it comes to those parts, if the items has already lasted a reasonable length of time and you are paying for the parts and labour? This is where it is less clear. Buying the parts should mean that the part is covered by the Consumer Rights Act and should last a further “reasonable length of time”. However, proving that the part caused another fault, for example, could be problematic.

What is a reasonable length of time for a new part in an older machine Ultimately, you are covered by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and your contract will be with the company to which you paid the money for the repair, which might not be the original retailer.

It remains to be seen as to whether companies also put the prices of parts really high and still try and charge people for labour too, so people still buy new machines!

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