What is a warranty, what is a guarantee and what are my consumer rights?

The differences with warranties, guarantees and consumer rights

People get muddled between these three things. Rarely do you need a warranty, however, there are situations where you may choose to buy a warranty.

Consumer rights

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that items must be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable length of time. You have these rights for six years in England and Wales or five years in Scotland.

Items must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose as described and last a reasonable length of time. So, for example, if you have bought a washing machine and it breaks after two years you should still be able to claim. However a consumer is expected to use the appliance reasonably. For example, a washing machine may be expected to be used a few times a week. It will show if it has been used every day twice a day for two years and this may be considered unreasonable and you would not get a repair or replacement.

For an item such as a washing machine, or a car etc., the retailer can take off money for use. This needs to be a reasonable “amount”.

You should familiarise yourself with the Consumer Rights Act 2015 before paying for any warranty being offered.

It is worth stating I have never paid for or used a warranty. I always assert my legal rights.

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Warranties

When you are offered a paid for warranty, check what is included. It should be more than your consumer rights, as shown above. You may feel that it is worth expenditure buying a warranty if you look at it as a type of insurance (as in the washing machine example). This is different to your consumer rights.

For example, a television should, without doubt, last more than three years. So should you buy one of those paid for warranties for a telly? Don’t bother, the CRA will always be better and using the law is free!

Cars are a complicated one! More advice on a warranty for cars on the Motor Ombudsman site here.

Guarantees

If you buy an item that comes with a lifetime guarantee, great. This provides you with more than your consumer rights because if the item breaks after six years you would not be able to go to the Small Claims Court. However, you can go back to the manufacturer and say under the guarantee this hasn’t lasted, I want my refund or replacement, depending on what the guarantee states.

If the guarantee says the company will replace the product within two years if it breaks, ignore it. If the item was expected, reasonably, to last longer than two years then your consumer rights are better than the guarantee and you should take the item back to the retailer, not the manufacturer.

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