/ Home & Energy

Does your product’s warranty cover earthquakes?

Earthquakes and ‘decorative handles’ are among the more unusual reasons why you might struggle to get a product repaired under its warranty, we’ve discovered.

We asked for your examples of unexpected ways you might void a warranty – and discovered others of our own.

For example. If you decide, for some reason, to use the vacuum cleaner to tackle a puddle of water, the warranty won’t cover you if the vacuum cleaner breaks. Well, that sounds  pretty reasonable.

But you might be surprised to find that if your washing machine’s bulbs, plugs and cables break, they’re often not covered by the warranty.

Laptop warranty exclusions vary from the mundane to the extreme. Damage caused by an earthquake is often not covered. And regular wear and tear such as scratches and dents, are also commonly not protected.

We also discovered contradictions. Damage caused by limescale is often not covered by many warranties for coffee machines. But in practice you may well get it repaired. When we asked manufacturers, most said they most likely would repair a damaged coffee machine even if it hadn’t been descaled properly.

Struggling to get an appliance fixed

But many of you did tell us that you’ve struggled to get an appliance fixed. One member had difficulty in getting their retailer to repair their fridge’s smudged-off control panel. Knobs, light bulbs and control panels are often not included in fridge warranties.

In a more bizarre example, Gregory Goon was told by Hotpoint that it wouldn’t repair the handle of his fridge:

 I had a Hotpoint refrigerator whose handle broke in normal use. Hotpoint refused my claim on the grounds that the handle was a “decorative item”. Fortunately, i had bought the fridge from John Lewis, and they paid up like gentlemen.

A question Which? members often ask us is whether keeping an extra fridge or your freezer in your garage will void its warranty.

We uncovered that many fridges and freezers can cope with lower temperatures, but Beko is the only manufacturer that claims its freezers can be kept in garages.

Samsung said that even though its fridges can cope with these temperatures, they’re not guaranteed to. Hotpoint and Indesit said their frost-free fridges are not designed to be kept in cooler temperatures, while their static fridges that are not frost free can be.

What your rights are

Thanks to the Consumer Rights Act, if you buy a product that turns out to be faulty, you’re protected. For 30 days after you’ve bought or received it, you have the right to reject it, or if you prefer, get a repair or replacement.

After this time, you still have the right to a repair or replacement. But, if the product develops a problem more than six months after you bought it, the onus is on you to prove the fault was there when you bought it, rather than the retailer proving that it wasn’t. This is where its warranty may come in handy.

Have you tried to prove that a product is faulty? Did retailers or manufacturers make this difficult in any way? Do you think that warranty details are clear and easy to find?


Is it always worth the hassle for just a small amount of money . Mind you I am able to do many repairs myself I suppose I am lucky to be able to do most things

Ian says:
28 June 2016

Surely damage caused by an earthquake becomes an insurance claim, rather than a claim under the warranty?

Sofology (the old Sofaworks) gave me two years warranty with a recliner settee and chair. One of the recliner levers failed (the cable) but on reading the small print I find there is a £75 call out charge after the first 12 months has elapsed. What kind of a warranty is that? One way of losing respect is to charge the customer for repairs supposedly covered by the warranty. The cable must cost peanuts and fitting only about half an hour!