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.

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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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.


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.

Warranty Guarantee consumer rights what you need to know down one side picture of tv the other side

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Author: Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow

Consultant | Author | Speaker | Blogger | Presenter | Journalist Helping to make, prevent and deal with complaints

2 thoughts on “What is a warranty, what is a guarantee and what are my consumer rights?”

  1. Hello Helen,
    Could you clarify something for us please. We purchased a leather sofa in 2014, a split appeared in the underneath of the back of the cushion in April this year, we contacted the store & were given a phone number to contact their customer service department, who then e-mailed us only after us contacting them again & they have informed us that it is not repairable & have offered us £130:11p as either compensation & keep the sofa or put the £130:11p towards a new sofa. Considering that the sofa cost us £899 & is only just 5 years old we did not feel that this is a reasonable length of time for it to last. Also on closer inspection we have found that this part of the sofa is NOT leather at all, but is either leatherette, vinyl/plastic. The Store Concerned is Furniture Village. Hope you can help us. What are our rights? There are only the two of us using the sofa.

    1. You have 6 years and I think you might be seriously pushing it with this but you can try. You are entitled to a repair or redress equivalent to the cost of the sofa minus something for the use. I think you would be hard pushed to get more. You are looking at the Sale of Goods Act because its even pre Consumer Rights Act 2015. You could try mis-selling if not all leather but it would have had to have said all leather.

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