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Have you ever voided a warranty for some bizarre reason?

Kitchen products

Cleaning your coffee machine with vinegar, vacuuming up ash and other slip-ups might actually void your product’s warranty. Have you ever been refused a repair because of how you used the product?

Looking into the fine print of product warranties, there are many commonplace behaviours that will void the warranty. How you use it, how you clean it and where you keep it may all affect whether the manufacturer will agree to fix a broken product.

Cleaning your coffee machine

For example, the warranty on your coffee machine could be voided if you use it in a farmhouse, or if you don’t descale it regularly using the appropriate descaler. But make sure not to use vinegar, as that may also void your warranty.

Some coffee machine manufacturers even recommend that you keep the machine’s original packaging just in case you need to send it back for repairs, because any damage that occurs in transit will not be covered by its warranty.

If you stray too close to the fireplace while vacuuming and suck up some ash, or if you’re renovating and vacuum up some rubble or plaster, your warranty on your vacuum cleaner could very well be voided.

Or, if you have a pressure cleaner, some brands will only cover warranty repairs if you’ve used their branded detergent.

Too cold for your freezer

Keeping your washing machine somewhere that goes below zero degrees Celsius – like your garage – may also void your warranty.

We’ve heard from Which? members who have bought a chest freezer advertised as ‘suitable for outbuildings’, only to find when they read the manual that it’s designed to operate in temperatures ranging from 10 to 43 degrees. And this isn’t an issue that only affects the few. Out of 2,605 voters, 85% of you said that you keep your freezer in the garage.

The question is; are these warranty clauses actively referred to by manufacturers to turn down customers who want their products repaired?

Of course, you should remember that you have the option to go to the retailer in the first instance with your faulty product. Still, I’d love to hear your examples – have you or someone you know had a warranty repair refused based on a so-called behaviour clause?


There can be good reasons why manufacturers have exclusions in their guarantees. Beth’s example of keeping a washing machine in an unheated building is an obvious example. Most washing machines still contain some water at the end of each cycle and if this freezes it could cause damage.

This and other exclusions would apply to many different brands of products. In my view it is vital that the manufacturers tell us of conditions that don’t generally apply to similar products so that we are properly informed when buying a product.

Perhaps we should distinguish between a manufacturer’s guarantee and an insurance backed warranty in discussions about consumer rights, even though these terms are often used interchangeably.

So far I have not had any claims turned down because I have not followed instructions.


I have had a few things replaced where the manufacturer would have every right to say I had tampered with it so my fault.

One was a leaking hosepipe reel. I thought it would be simple to repair but it was impossible to put back together. I phone the manufacturer and told them what I had tried to do, and they were very understanding and replaced the reel.


Excuse me for pointing out a typo in the Intro – fourth para, after second word insert “machine”.

With reference to Graham’s comment in the Intro, wooden sheds tend to be warmer overall than garages as they benefit rapidly from any morning sunshine and retain any ambient warmth during daylight hours. They cool rapidly at dusk and are more prone to frosts but the duration of the cold period is much shorter than that with a garage so the appliance can recover well. Even when connected to or integral with the house, a garage can be persistently cold over much longer periods and the large doorway is rarely draught-proof, indeed it usually lets in a severe draught. If the garage also houses the central heating boiler that helps to maintain a frost-free condition but the boiler will usually be dormant overnight.

The response to the poll/survey is good so far as it goes, but only people with both a garage next to the house and a freezer could answer that question and that is a small minority of the population.


Thanks for flagging John, the edit has been made 🙂

Mike Hindson-Evans says:
2 April 2016

Our freezers and a fridge live in our garage. One half-height fridge (“the champagne fridge”) plus two full-height freezers have lived in our double garage (integral to the house) since we moved in at the start of 2005. There have been no failures within warranty – a freezer dying after eight years has given us the service which we expect; we defrost each one every second year. Perhaps having the full-height freezers (where your items are in slide-out baskets) may have some benefits versus the chest freezers, where you can usually count on finding something old in the perma-frost at the bottom!

You need to make sure that the freezer backs are clear of the wall to let air circulate. Our biggest problem was a mouse nest which formed, a couple of winters ago, under the compressor of one of the freezers – poor thing must have needed the warmth!



My beloved once hoovered up about half a bucket of water with her Electrolux cylinder machine, then wondered why it wouldn’t work. We then bought a Rowenta wet and dry and that still works perfectly. That was 31 years ago.

If we ruin something through our own stupidity we’ve never tried to get it fixed under warranty. Too honest, I suppose, but in the case of our Miele Cat and Dog machine it failed after nine months. That was fixed by Miele under warranty. We assumed it was dog hair causing the damage but a very nice note from the Miele folk asked us not to use it in future for sucking up plaster…


A Miele Cat and Dog Machine? Does it shampoo them or Is it a new remedy for a hangover. I am familiar with the hair of the dog but never the cat. 🙂

I happen to own a Miele vacuum cleaner that is supposed to suck up hair from your carpets but have found it doesn’t work very well on synthetic fibres due to static-electric problems. See:

campaignforwool.co.nz – Anti-Static

I haven’t complained about it as it does a pretty good job on the woollen carpets.


We had two cats so we bought a Miele Cat & Dog vacuum cleaner. Now we have no cats. Could there be a connection? It’s a very good machine and well over twelve years old now. Answers to the name of Moggie. The other v/c is confined to the ground floor and is called Henry. They seem to get on alright with each other.

Rob Thompson says:
2 April 2016

I am a 72 year old technophobe and dread replacing my mobile phone.
Sainsbury’s mobile phone counter had a sign saying “we find the right phone for you”.
I emphasised my lack of knowledge and my need for simple basics services.
I was offered a phone which I took away.

The instructions, in tiny print proved impossible to understand, defeating all three generations of my family, including a qualified programmer and a 16 year old screen addict. It simply could not be set up.

Taking it back within the week, I was refused a refund as I had not kept the packaging.
I said I had not been told this was a condition of sale and they offered to show me the clause on-line – the only reference they had!
There was no procedure for this department to handle this situation.

Polite persistence eventually brought the the manger and more polite persistence
resulted in him finding a away to get my refund at the supermarket’s main service desk.

It should not necessary to return packaging which is often long been discarded and which may still bear the scars of the vigorous assault so often required to open it.


I looked into possible problems with freezers in garages when I replaced an ageing LEC freezer that I’d kept in the garage for over 30 years. I selected a Whirlpool (available locally at discount) – the spec on their website indicated a minimum ambient temperature of -10degC, which seemed OK since the garage will never get quite as cold as outside – partly due to heat generated by the freezer itself. I’ve had no problems – it got down to -13 on winter 2010/11. Perhaps it’s because Whirlpool is American, where they expect greater extremes of temperature.


There has been a whole conversation devoted to freezers in garages. For freezers on their own there seems no problem in principle. For fridge freezers there is a potential problem in that the fridge shuts off at around 5 deg C and unless there are separate fridge / freezer compressors the freezer will then stop being cooled (BEKO have a way of dealing with this, however).

In view of the contributions and interest to that Convo it would seem useful for Which? to make some sort of a pronouncement on the topic, as it clearly interests many consumers.


We’ve had freezers in an outhouse for many years without problem but your correct Malcolm about fridge freezers. . . They’re engineering does not suit other than normal room temp range because the stat is in the fridge and if the ambient is around fridge temp the unit will not operate and the freezer will thaw
A fridge freezer freezer is not really a proper long term storage freezer anyhow in my eyes

I’m not sure why one would want a fridge freezer in a garage. . .I understand why a large overflow freezer may be needed as once was here to gather up the offers and freeze them

I have avoided fridge freezers since I got the idea that they are not as easy ran as a larder fridge and a separate freezer. . . Chest freezers being best as the cold does not fall out of them when opened
The only down side has been the super hard ice cream from the out and out freezer. . .I cant eat ice cream anyhow and the children are all grown up and as they leave they take a freezer with them it seems
We have stuff in the freezers for some time and most of the combo units were not as cold as we would have wished for. . . .Perhaps the American style ones or others have separate compressors but as best I see they are for maintaining frozen food until it’s used rather than long term or freezing a load of stuff

I have got a washer and dryer lately (both Grundig made in Turkey) and they are operational and the heat pump dryer has it’s quirks but works fine and a load easier on leccy than conventional or condenser types. . .It may be on a par with bulk LPG for costs if one considders that the gas dryer also uses electric to rotate and they are quite sore on leccy for rotation
The washer is also easy on the watts as in watts per hour with it’s inverter drive but there are washes near to 3 hours so one has to be deliberate about choosing a short wash otherwise any savings would quickly disapear. . There is also the loads more miles the mechanicals are doing so we try to keep it short
Note. . . These two machines are out in a switch/control room with waste heat from electronics but also has frost protection and are working fine but the dryer works much better if the door is closed. . .I’ve been experimenting and it seems that the heat pump dryer does much better in a warm space. . . .No surprise’s there
There are far too many options as usual and ironing does not feature on our agenda
We just want dry. . .real dry if possible
Just choose Xtra dry cottons and the moisture sensor and pcb will shorten the time as the clothes dry if needs be
It can start showing over 3 hours but be finished in half that time if the clothes are dry
We dont have enough clothes to be sorting them into different times so the whole lot goes in in one go

I am now trying to sift through the myriad or refrigeration to choose a larder fridge and upright freezer and it’s an uphill battle because price or brand does not assure one of anything it seems

I am taken aback at the cheapness of near everything but I also note that many have in the spec’s for use in a garage etc.. . This is good to a point
I also note that the above dryers are not for use outside but I done my homework and it is operating fine
I would like more info on ambient temp required rather than have to use my experiences to make judgement on such things
Not everyone will have such info/experiences to hand or head but many will understand factual degree’s C. . . .Many garages have boilers in them and are pretty pleasant places and on the other hand I have been in utility rooms that are like a chiller in winter so an actual required temp quote would be good as not everyone see’s “garage” or outbuilding in the same light
My outbuilding is never freezing but it is an outbuilding
My daughters outbuilding has the boiler in it and as it is cavity built with only one door it never really cools down but nevertheless both are outbuildings so the warranty could be in question and really should not be
An actual temp number would also clear up potential ambiguities around warranty claims. . . Maybe the manufactures want to leave a little get out clause or two


A friend has been looking for a fridge-freezer and was told that twin compressor models are being phased out because they use more power than single compressor units. That seems plausible but not if compared with a separate fridge and freezer.