All too often retailers refuse to help when products develop a fault – like this case of a faulty Bosch washing machine from John Lewis. So, what do you do when you feel like you’re being fobbed off?
Which? Legal member Ernest James bought a washing machine from John Lewis in September 2014. Just 18 months later, in March 2016, it developed a fault: the door wouldn’t open, and it only restarted if he unplugged it and waited about 30 minutes.
In November 2016, Ernest spoke to a John Lewis after-sales representative, who said he would have to pay for a Bosch representative to inspect the machine at his home, and possibly for a new part (costing several hundred pounds).
John Lewis refused to give a refund, repair or replacement for the faulty washing machine, so Ernest turned to Which? Legal for advice.
We explained that under consumer law, John Lewis itself would have to pay for the repairs to the machine. We helped Ernest prepare to take his claim to the small claims court in February 2017. John Lewis instructed solicitors and prepared a defence.
In May, a Bosch engineer inspected the machine and concluded that there was a fault with the door lock and power module. In August, John Lewis paid for Bosch to repair the machine, and then in September, the solicitors agreed to pay Ernest a sum of several hundred pounds in full and final settlement to cover his claim.
Consumer contracts are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (for those on or after 1 October 2015), or the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for those before then). These make it an implied term that the goods will be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and match their description.
Here, there was a breach of the term ‘satisfactory quality’. You have the right to request a repair or replacement from the seller, which it must give you within a reasonable time, without causing significant inconvenience to you, and bearing any costs itself.
You can enforce this right for up to six years (five in Scotland) from the date of the breach, regardless of whether you have a warranty. It is also an offence to give consumers misleading information about their legal rights.
This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the March 2018 edition of Which? magazine.
Have you ever been fobbed off by a retailer when it comes to a faulty product? What approach did you take, and did you manage to resolve the problem without being out of pocket yourself?