/ Home & Energy

Brief cases: Aga repaired for free after contract dispute

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It’s annoying when a product has reoccurring faults, but what do you do when the manufacturer wants to charge you to come out and look at it when it was only recently serviced?

Which? member Phillip Needham bought an Aga Rangemaster Cooker in 2008. After the warranty expired, he bought an annual service contract covering labour and spare parts. This contract ended in July 2017, and during this period the Aga was serviced annually and repairs made as required.

There had been two problems, once in 2013 and then in October 2016, where the Aga had lost heat. The last service under the plan was in July 2017.

But less than eight weeks later, the cooker developed the same fault as before. Phillip contacted Aga, pointing out that it was only a short time since it was serviced and also that it was less than a year since it had been repaired for the same problem.

However, as Phillip was out of contract, Aga requested payment of a £185 call-out fee, plus any parts required. Phillip then turned to Which? Legal for advice.

Our advice

We helped Phillip put together a letter referring to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, explaining his rights and giving Aga one more chance to repair the cooker for free. Aga said it would not.

So we suggested that Phillip wrote again, saying that he would get the appliance repaired himself, but that he’d pursue Aga through the courts if necessary.

Aga then called and said it would send an engineer without charge to see what the fault was. Although the problem was the same, it turned out to be a different component. The engineer fitted a new one free of charge, and Phillip just had to pay for the new component.

The law

Philip’s contract was a mixed one, for goods and service. As it was renewed annually, a new contract was made each year.

Such contracts entered into after 1 October 2015 are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. This says that if goods aren’t of satisfactory quality, or if a service isn’t carried out with reasonable care and skill, you have the right to request a repair or replacement or that the services are done again, with the trader bearing any costs.

If the manufacturer fails to do this, you have the right to reject the goods or accept a price reduction for the services. If it refuses this, you can take it to court.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the February 2018 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you had similar issues trying to get a manufacturer to investigate a fault in a cooker or other home product? Did you get the problem resolved and if so, what worked for you?

Comments

It’s very encouraging to see Which? Legal publishing examples of how members have been helped. Here are other examples, all in the last couple of years.

It would be very interesting to read about actual cases of how Which? Legal has helped members where they have had a problem with a product outside the guarantee period but within the six year (five in Scotland) period during which they have protection under the Consumer Rights Act. Some of us have discussed washing machines at great length on Which? Convo, so maybe someone with a problem could contact Which? Legal for advice, and the outcome could feature in a future report.

Difficult to assess this from the brief information, and it would have been useful to have Aga’s view. The problem was loss of heat. The “fault” was a failed component. Subsequently the problem recurred, but the “fault” was a different component. So unless it should have been obvious at the first repair or service that this second component should have been replaced, I don’t see how Aga were responsible. I expect, threatened with legal action, they took a pragmatic approach.

More clear-cut cases would be better perhaps.

What does concern me is the call out charge of £185. Unless a long distance is involved this seems unreasonable. Call out charges can be a real deterrent to having an appliance repaired. I had a Hotpoint appliance fail 12 months out of warranty and was quoted £120 to come and look at it. For not much more, they would visit but not charge if it was not repairable and I chose this. In the event I successfully (and quite easily) argued it was not durable and it was replaced free of charge.

I’d like to see more independent servicers and repairers , as we have for cars, who can deal with all makes of product. We might then see it worthwhile to keep appliances going.

Independent repairers could be a better bet but may not have access to manufacturers’ information or parts and may be less familiar with common faults with the model they are asked to repair.

When staying with friends a few years ago, they called an engineer to repair their Worcester-Bosch oil-fired boiler. He replaced several parts in sequence until the fault was discovered. If I had not intervened and asked for him to put back the non-faulty parts, I suspect that the bill would have been several hundred pounds higher. I remain keen on independent repairers but my anecdote is about one of these companies.

I could have gone on to say that opening the service and repair market to independents should be accompanied by access to the necessary information and parts. Some, even many, parts may of course be generic.

My Hotpoint appliance had a 10 year parts warranty which is why I decided to have a callout. However, I consider it wrong to prevent independents the ability to fix the machine using the “free” parts under the warranty. My local repairer charges less than £60 to visit.

I absolutely agree on making information and parts available to independent repairers. As a DIY enthusiast I would like to have the information available to all. I remember when I could go into the central library and photocopy circuit diagrams for radios and TVs, and make a copy of what I needed to do repairs for friends and family. The information also included common faults associated with different models.

In the early days fewer parts were specific to a particular model. My washing machine pump failed after nine or ten years and I replaced it with an alternative because the manufacturer’s part was not readily available The replacement was still working when I pensioned the machine off at the age of 34. Sometimes alternative parts are poor quality but they can be as good or better.

Amazing timing of this article as I was in touch with WLS only last week on this same subject. Apple….now there’s one of the ‘big boys’. So you buy a new iPhone and it lasts 11months before it packs up. Apple replace it with a brand new one which lasts 9 months. At that point they say that its out of warranty – they test it and agree that it has a hardware fault and I have to pay for the repair. They refuse any trade in (as it’s not working).

Have been back to them and they will repair it for £299 but say that ‘the solicitor who is advising me at Which Legal Services doesn’t understand Consumer Law. I know who I trust more.

Am I prepared to take them on – you bet. I love Apple products but this is certainly not the customer service that you deserve (maybe expect now though).

One last interesting quote – from Apple themselves (and you can find this online right now in relation to their statement about the ‘battery life’ story)

Quote:

“Addressing customer concerns
We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones for as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices”

Yes….seriously. I have 2 new iPhones that lasted under a year each and hold zero value!

Watch this space and thanks again WLS

I have twice had Apple equipment repaired for free well outside of the warranty period, and never had a problem doing so. And Apple are the only major company that posts on its website – prominently – that you have six years under UK law to seek redress. I’ve also helped friends to do the same, so I suspect the issue lies specifically with ‘phones.

Hi Ian – I have never had any previous problems with Apple, far from it. I can’t believe that they are prepared to risk some bad publicity over this when very clearly…….and they have even given me in writing that they have “determined that the device had a hardware fault”

This is not damage – the phone is in very good condition,. it is a “hardware fault”

If WLS say that I have a case – I am prepared to take them on in this instance as I really believe that they are not being at all reasonable. The Manager himself understands my angst, but tells me “trust me, Apple know Consumer Law”

As a user of Apple products for more than 25 years I have been interest in their customer service. Family and friends have sometimes been very well treated and other times this has not been the case. On the one occasion when I sought help over a three and a half year old laptop it was repaired free of charge despite having not taken out AppleCover. I still have the email showing that the repair cost of £841.20.

The apparent lack of consistency is worrying and I think Ian might be right about them being less helpful with iPhone problems.

You are probably aware that Apple publishes information about consumer rights on their website, but this might help others: https://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/

I expect that Apple will have confirmed the fault by email, as they did in my case. If there is a hardware fault then I would take legal action and hope that WLS can provide advice on how to proceed. Best of luck, John, and please report back.

Indeed; I’m fairly sure Apple will do a quick volte face when they realise their error.

I hope you are right, Ian.

I forgot to mention that I had bought my computer direct from Apple, so they were both manufacturer and retailer. Our statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act are against the retailer and not the manufacturer, even though manufacturers can often be very helpful.

Ah; good point. We always buy our stuff direct from Apple.

Yes Guys, all bought direct from Apple. Re the ‘volte face’, we gave them a chance this week as the situation had already been diagnosed by them.

We pointed out that WLS had advised us, which was when we got the bizarre comment from the retail ‘Manager’ that the Solicitor advising us at Which didn’t understand ‘Consumer Law’ !

Was this at an Apple store? I’ve had mixed results dealing with the stores.

I’m generally happy with allowing companies to have another go at a repair, especially when a problem is intermittent. If there is any attempt to deny me my legal rights – for example a retailer expecting me to deal with the manufacturer – I stand up for my rights.

More should be encouraged to know their basic rights, and to exercise them. An agreed summary of these, as given by the Consumer Rights Act, should be prominently displayed in every retailer. A more extensive leaflet should be available on demand.

Many Convos include examples of people who have, it appears, been denied their legal rights largely through their ignorance of them. Something Which? might campaign on?

I can only speak from Rangemaster experience but assume would also apply to Aga as they are the same company.

Philip was unlikely to have been dealing with Aga Rangemaster as they use an outside company for customer service, and they are dreadful to deal with for both retailers and customers.

The only way to get results with that company is to write letters to the top. Then they deal with problems fairly the way any customer service centre should.

Aki says:
22 March 2019

Hi, I would be grateful if anybody could give me some legal advice.
I had the ensuite shower room done in March 2018.
Mark, the plubmer, who did all the job by himself, hasn’t have proper skills to finish his job; put up the textured tiles with cement based adhesive instead of grout( that fatal mistake incurred the leakage of water. He rejected to give us a refund. He came back to redo everything all over again), jagged silicone application, left quite a few scratch marks
on the enclosure, left 5mm gaps between the tiles and the walls, some parts of the unit and enclosure were crooked, left the damaged walls and ceiling
and so on. My husband contacted Mark on WhatsApp but he never replied.
Last month, I noticed that some parts of the shower unit and enclosure have become rusty. I emailed Mark immediately, but again he didn’t reply. He emailed me back a week later saying he’s not liable for anything because I made a claim nearly a year later. He keeps blaming everyone, denies everything(eg; He says he didn’t get contacted by us even once until recently, which is untrue). He said in his email that we are making accusations against him and would not come back to our house to endure abuse from me and my family, which is such an outrageous, false statement.
Citizens advice Bureau gave me some advice to take this matter to small claims court, but that should be the last resolution, isn’t it?
I do not know what is the best way to do.

Hi Aki – I’m no legal expert but can point you to the relevant page on the Which? website: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-complain-if-youre-unhappy-with-building-work You are right that going to court is the last resort, but as explained in the document, the possibilities will depend on various factors including whether using ADR is a possibility.

If Mark the plumber purchased the materials he is responsible for the parts that go rusty and use of the incorrect adhesive as well as the poor workmanship.

It’s well worth collecting your evidence such as photos, correspondence and evidence of delays in responding. You might need estimates of the cost of getting another trader to sort out the problem. As Which? advises, it’s worth checking whether you have cover under your home insurance. I have added this cover to my insurance for the first time because I’m planning to have tradesmen doing work on the house.

Best of luck and please report back.

Aki says:
23 March 2019

Thank you so much for your comment. I’ve been studying the Consumer Rights Act and websites(Which?, Trading Standard, Citizens advice Bureau etc), have got plenty of photos and got a quote from the reputable plumber to correct Mark’s
unprofessional, cowboy job
for £1800, got a quote from a decorator to recover the damaged walls and ceiling for £200.
I am going to check our home insurance as you advised, thank you.
I’m going back to the Citizens advice Bureau for more support.