How warranties work
Statistics prove that even if your appliance does fail after the standard warranty expires, the cost of the repair is likely to be a lot less than what you paid for the extended warranty.
Ilse Knott wrote: “We purchased a geyser in 2008 and in August 2010 it burst and was replaced free as the geyser came with a five-year warranty.
“Then this month the replacement geyser burst, but we were told by the plumbers and Kwikot that the replacement geyser carries the balance of the warranty of the initially installed geyser, so it has expired, and we don’t qualify for a free replacement.
“Surely this is infringing our rights as consumers? How can a geyser have a sticker on it that says ‘five-year warranty’ and then it doesn’t have that warranty?”
A: This is a common policy when it comes to warranties, and doesn’t contravene any law.
This is how Consumer Goods & Services Ombudsman Neville Melville explained it to me: “All a warranty is, is a term to a contract - in this case, that the geyser would work for two years, failing which they would fix or replace it.
“So the consumer got what she bargained and paid for - the use of a geyser for at least five years.
“If this were not the case, it would potentially be a situation - as one retailer put it to us - that they were compelled to provide shoes for a child throughout his school career because each consecutive pair developed a defect just as it neared the end of its warranty period.”
Put like that, the policy makes sense.
Here’s a brief run-down of other warranty issues:
- The Consumer Protection Act covers the first six months of all purchases. If a defect develops, you get to take it back for your choice of a refund, replacement or repair, bearing in mind that the retailer has a right to have the product assessed first, to rule out user abuse. But the important thing to remember is you don’t have to accept a repair in the first six months.
- From month seven, the supplier’s warranty kicks in, if there is one. And they are then free to make up their own rules. Such as - the item must be in its original packaging, no refunds, certain components are excluded, and some even charge a handling fee or, deduct a sum to cover the amount of use you’ve had from the product, such as a tyre or a mattress.
So don’t assume that you’re fully covered by a warranty - read the small print carefully so you don’t get a shock at claim time.
-Those expensive extended warranties which the appliance salesmen always try to get you to buy mainly benefit the companies. Consumer bodies around the world advise consumers not to buy them, because statistics prove that even if your appliance does fail after the standard warranty expires, the cost of the repair is likely to be a lot less than what you paid for the extended warranty.
GET IN TOUCH: You can contact Wendy Knowler via email: email@example.com or on Twitter: @wendyknowler. She's In Your Corner for consumer issues.