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.

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

10 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.

  2. Hi Helen,
    Thank you for the book and your website with so much useful info!
    I have a question on how much can the seller take off the price of the item for the refund.

    For example, I bought a washing machine 3 years ago, a Samsung all bells and whistles with auto dispensing of the soap etc, really expensive. Three years later it came up with an error that made the machine stop and unable to use. But after a week being switched off, when the engineer came the error was gone. He did nearly nothing, just opened the back and wiped it and ran the machine to see if he can reproduce it. He didn’t and left. Now it is coming back with a different error which is complaining there is no detergent and/or softener when there is and it’s using it.
    The seller is now saying they can’t send someone else as it is not cost effective for them to keep trying to fix it. They are offering me 50% of the price and asking to take the machine back, because it is mean to last 6 years and I have had use of it for 3, therefore I should get half the money back. This doesn’t make sense to me as I don’t feel the washing machine will have depreciated by 50% in just three years. They are saying they will look into complaining to Samsung about their engineer and try to get them out free of charge, but if they are asked to pay a fee they won’t send anyone and would rather do a return and partial (50%) refund.
    What should I do? I have stated my rights and asked them to fix or replace, because it didn’t last a reasonable amount of time, but they won’t do a replacement because I have used it for three years. This is from the managers assigned to look at the case by the ceo of the company.
    I guess I am asking you because based in the consumer rights act I feel they are in the wrong but if you agree with them I might be more inclined to accept it.

    1. It is reasonable and expected for a retailer to deduct a percentage for use. A washing machine isn’t expected to last 6 years per se. 6 years is the length of time you have to bring any legal case to court. Ultimately it would be up to a court to decide what is reasonable. It may depend on amount of use. However I would say 50% was perfectly reasonable and certainly wouldn’t go to court over it.

      Please do a review of the book if you have found it helpful.

      1. Thank you so much for the reply! Would you say it’s worth going to Retail ADR?
        I just wasn’t expecting anything to go wrong with it for a much longer time as this is a £1400 machine! If I had bought a cheap £300 one it would have likely lasted me 10 years. Also I don’t understand why they want to give up on fixing it so quickly. They sent an engineer once, he didn’t do much and they won’t send one a second time if they have to pay for it.
        I just want to cry for losing so much money due to a washing machine going faulty, within 3 years!

        Is it worth getting an independent engineer to do a report? If they find inherent fault do I get 100% of my money back? Would I also be able to claim back the money spent on that report?

        1. Please see Ombudsman Omnishambles and More Ombudsman Omnishambles reports and all Ombudsman and ADR posts on here to see if you wish to do that.

          I can’t really add anything to what I have already said. Ultimately it would be up to a judge to decide what is reasonable. You would have to pay for the report unless it showed a fault that was always there and you could then claim it back. I can’t make that decision for you.

          1. Thank you for taking the time to reply! I will have a look into that. It does get confusing when a device goes faulty after the first 6 months of having it!

          2. See the post on Consumer Rights Act 2015 too. It is reasonable to expect a discount for 3 years use, as you would with a car etc. “Reasonable” ultimately decided by a court. I personally don’t think 50% is bad if you have used a few times a week. Less then you may have more of a case, getting a report is risky. You could try a Section 75 is bought on a credit card and see what they say but I think, again, you’ll be pushing it. You could also ask for a discount on a new machine which may work out better.

            If you have found the free help on here useful please do share on social media 🙂

  3. Hello,
    I purchased a SWAN retro fridge freezer in Nov 2017 from Tesco Direct for £599.
    It stopped working in Mar/April this year (2019). I contacted SWAN and was advised it was out of its 1 year warranty period and I would have to pay £90 for one of their engineers to come out plus the cost of repair and parts. They said it could possibly be a problem with the compressor or may need to be regassed which would cost a substantial amount to repair. (No exact figures). I decided to take out my own domesticare repair and care plan for approx £14 per month. An engineer came out and ordered a new compressor and regassed the appliance. It seemed to fix the problem but after a few days it stopped working again and started making the same noise it had made when it first stopped working. The engineer came out again and it his report said ‘the product could not be repaired or the cost of repairs would exceed the limit for first time repair.’ I was refunded any money paid for the first 2 month or 2 of the plan.
    I then contacted Tesco (tesco direct no longer exists). Tesco have been helpful and have today offered a ‘partial/intrinsic’ refund of £240. I don’t know whether I should just cut my losses and accept this or whether it is worth perusing the matter further. £240 will not but a new fridge of the same quality or may not cover cost of repair. I used the fridge/freezer correctly and did not treat it in any way that could have contributed to its failure to work. I would really appreciate any advice on this matter. Thanks in advance.

    1. Please read the post above for differences between Consumer rights and warranty.

      See link to Consumer Rights Act 2015

      You have had the item for nearly two years Tesco can take off a reasonable amount for those two years. What is deemed as reasonable would need to be tested in court.

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