Mark asks: Last June my wife bought a new treadmill. Recently while running on it, the frame snapped in half. When she called the company, it said the treadmill was out of warranty and there’s nothing it could do…
This seems very harsh as it’s not a small issue – the actual frame broke. Is there really nothing we can do?
Joanne Lezemore, Senior Solicitor for Which? Legal Service, responds:
When you buy goods they are often covered by a warranty that is issued directly by a manufacture for a certain period of time. If goods fail during that warranty period you can ask the manufacturer to repair or replace the item, depending on the terms of the policy (as they all differ).
However, whether a warranty exists or has expired is irrelevant as you still have rights under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 against the retailer of the goods. The Act says that the goods have to be of satisfactory quality and be durable: this means you can expect goods to last a certain period of time before having to pay out for repairs.
Therefore, there is a claim against the retailer under the Sale of Goods Act. However, the burden lies with you to prove that the machine had an inherent defect that has taken time to manifest itself – in other words, it has not broken due to something you or someone else has done to the machine. And you will need to obtain an independent report that verifies that the machine has an inherent defect. You should therefore write to the retailer setting out the above, and asking if they are willing to obtain a joint independent report.
If you paid for the machine using your credit card (and presuming it cost more than £100) then any claim you have against the retailer can also be made against your card provider under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. This Act makes your card provider jointly and equally liable with the retailer for any breach of contract.
I hope this helps you and your wife with your broken treadmill! Please be aware that the guidance given is limited by the information I have and should not be treated as a substitute for taking full legal advice.
Have you ever owned a product that broke just outside of its warranty for no apparent reason? Did you go back to the retailer and quote your rights according to the Sale of Goods Act?