/ Health

Ask Which? – Help, my treadmill’s run out of steam!

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?


I have no idea how successful claims under the Sale of Goods Aact are in practice. It would be a good idea (?) for Which to survey members who have taken action and collate successes and failures. That might start a trend to using the Act more regularly, rather than just resigning yourself to relying on the goodwill of the manufacturer. For example, what is a reasonable life for different product classes, to decide whether you might have a claim. What types of fault / claim have met with most success. And what is the cost of using the Act, and can you do it without legal intervention if the supplier will not co-operate/


I agree, Malcolm. Which? gets involved with all sorts of important issues but I feel that this is one of the most important.

It would be interesting to discover what would happen if Which? send investigators into shops and asked for advice about items that have failed after the guarantee period. I would be very surprised indeed if they were told that they have rights under the Sale of Goods Act.

The big problem for the consumer is to get an expert that will provide a report that indicates that a fault is due to a problem that existed at the time of manufacture. That could be expensive. In many cases, no fault will exist and the failure is due to poor design and/or use of cheap materials.

I don’t see the SOGA as very useful to the consumer and we should be pushing for goods that include an extended parts & labour guarantee. The length of guarantee should be appropriate to the type of product. Thus it would be reasonable to expect a washing machine, fridge, TV and vacuum cleaner to work for ten years, whereas a computer or mobile phone could be warranted for a shorter period because these are likely to become obsolete more quickly.

If manufacturers have by law to provide extended warranties, I am quite sure that the build quality will improve dramatically.

Premature failure of ‘durable’ goods is not just a major cost to customers but contributes to the mountains of consumer waste that has to be recycled.


Hi both, not sure if this is of interest but you might like to see a piece of research we did in November last year where we did a similar test to the one you suggest, wavechange. We went into some big name shops and tested staff knowledge on the Sale of Goods Act, to see whether they would give us the correct information about our rights.



‘… according to EU Directive 1999/44/EU, a minimum two-year guarantee should apply to the sale of all consumer goods everywhere in the EU’
I posted this on a thread about extended warranties and then saw that the last post was in February, so am re-posting in the hope of an answer
Can anyone tell me why some manufacturers and retailers are still insisting that you only get a one year warranty and that is that. Surely under this EU law manufacturers and retailers are legally obliged to adhere to the two year warranty period?
I have a printer that is not functioning after only 19 months of moderate use and Amazon are refusing point blank to entertain any repair or replacement, I don’t understand how they can deny responsibility under EU law, much less under the ‘quality’ clause that things should last a reasonable time, with the UK’s six year claim period.
Fact is that this printer cost £152.99, and so I would expect a longer life than 19 months – if I had bought a £50 printer and it only lasted 19 months I could now still buy two more £50 printers and have a further three years use for the same money. Can anyone advise?


Hello Jan, I’ve consulted Joanne, who said the following:

‘The EU laws relating to a 2 year warranty were not incorporated into English law on the basis that, regardless of a length of warranty, consumers have longer rights to enforce against a retailer under the Sale of Goods Act 1979.

‘All goods sold have to be of satisfactory quality under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, and are to be durable – this means goods should last a certain period of time before a consumer can expect them to start requiring repairs. One of the things taken into account is the cost.

‘Here the consumer would write back to the retailer asserting their rights under the SGA asking for a free repair (or replacement is a repair cannot be carried out within a reasonable period of time or causes significant inconvenience). The main problem here for consumers is that the burden lies with them to prove that the printer has an inherent defect that has taken time to manifest itself i.e. it is not something they have done to cause the fault.

‘The advice given above is limited by the information given and should not be a substitute for taking full legal advice.’

I hope that helps. Thanks, Patrick.

alick says:
28 January 2013

Hi Jan
I am just experiencing the same thing with a kodak printer I bought about 18 or 19 months ago and just wondered did you get anywhere.
I had six kodak techs trying to sort my printer out and the last one finally said it is my printer cable connection that is faulty as I have been unable to complete the installation process.This all began because I couldn’t get it to scan so I unloaded the software and haven’t been able to reload it since.
They said its past the 12 month deadline so I would have to buy a new one (abt £150).arrgh!
And now it’s going to have to become landfill or whatever and I hardly used it in the few months it did work.sickening.

Tracey says:
28 August 2012

My running machine broke, when I plug it it, it blows the socket. It is still under warranty (which expires in 2 weeks) they have said they will repair it and have sent off for parts. This has been 4 weeks now and they say they are still waiting for the parts.
No one has been out to inspect the machine, but they have said that what I have described has happened before so they are certain its the motor.
My concern is how long do I have to wait for the new parts etc, what is deemed as reasonable time to wait for a repair?



Hello Tracey, I presume you got in touch with the manufacturer. It might be a good idea to get them to send you an estimated time of delivery/repair. What’s a reasonable amount of time is a grey area, but there is another route you could take. You could, under the Sale of Goods Act, go to the retailer you bought the machine from: http://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/sale-of-goods/understanding-the-sale-of-goods-act/ Thanks