/ Home & Energy, Money, Shopping

Wavechange: would better quality warranties mean better quality products?

Broken washing machine

Wavechange, one of the original Which? Convo community members, argues it’s time to demand that products come with lengthy warranties and to put the onus on manufacturers to build products that last.

When we buy new goods we expect them to work properly and to be trouble-free. Unfortunately, most of us will have had problems with washing machines, TVs, computers or phones failing prematurely.

It can be annoying and inconvenient to return faulty goods, but it’s a lot easier to return them while they are still within their warranty period. If a product develops a fault once the warranty expires it’s much harder to get support.

Returning faulty goods

Of course, outside the warranty period, consumers have legal protection for faulty goods for six years (five in Scotland) under the Sale of Goods Act. Somewhat confusingly, that doesn’t mean that goods have to last this long because wear and tear and damage caused by misuse are excluded. Plus, the Sale of Goods Act requires products to be durable, even though ‘durability’ has never been properly defined.

If it’s been more than six months since you bought a product, the retailer can ask you to provide evidence that a fault existed at the time of sale, but in my experience, most retailers just push you to contact the manufacturer or point out that you should have taken out an extended warranty. It can also be hard to prove that a fault is inherent in the product, meaning lots of people can give up at this stage.

Of course, we can pursue our legal rights through the courts but that can be quite daunting. Personally, I prefer to try to repair things myself, but over the years household goods have become much harder to repair.

Should extended warranties be standard?

In the 80s, large electrical retailers started pushing us to buy costly extended warranties. Since then, Which? has correctly been pointing out that these warranties are often poor value and that it may be better to save the money for repairs or replacements.

But car manufacturers have led the way; warranties for three years or 60,000 miles are commonplace, with some manufacturers offering cover for five years or more. The length of warranty can be an important selling point. Cars are generally reliable these days despite having become much more complex, but having a warranty means that motorists will be protected from the possibility of expensive repairs for a few years.

So isn’t the way forward to look for household products that come with extended warranties at little or no extra cost? For example, John Lewis decided to offer a minimum two-year warranty on all electrical goods in 2013.

For me, the length of the warranty is a big factor when choosing a new product. My new laptop came with a three-year warranty for no extra cost. I’m planning to buy a TV with a five-year warranty and when my old washing machine dies I will look for one with a 10-year warranty.

The hidden advantage of decent warranties

Electrical goods are often designed for ease of manufacturing, but that can make repair more difficult and much more expensive. For example, most washing machines are now manufactured with ‘sealed drums’, so that the task of replacing bearings has become much more expensive and modern machines may not be worth repairing.

If a product is covered by a warranty then the company, not the consumer, will be responsible for the cost of repairs. If enough of us push for longer warranties, surely it would encourage manufacturers to go back to making goods that can be repaired economically, making the likes of ‘sealed drums’ a thing of the past?

Do you look out for products that have longer warranties at little or no extra cost? Would you like to see all major household purchases with at least a five-year warranty?

This is a guest post by Wavechange, long-term community member on Which? Conversation, picked from our Ideas lounge. All opinions expressed here are Wavechange’s own and not necessarily those of Which?

How long should a manufacturer's warranty last for most products?

Five years (44%, 939 Votes)

Three years (23%, 502 Votes)

Longer than five years (20%, 419 Votes)

Two years (9%, 194 Votes)

Four years (3%, 65 Votes)

One year (1%, 24 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,143

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Comments

The answer is not to impose mandatory warranties (because a warranty is a contractual right in addition to the consumer’s statutory rights), but for the period of “six months” defined under Section 19(14) of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 to be increased to much longer periods for certain types of goods. For example, it should be 5 years for most domestic appliances.

“For example, it should be 5 years for most domestic appliances.”

Why?

K.

To encourage better build quality, materials, components, reliability and durability surely.

It would come at a cost, but as you have pointed out, major appliance prices have fallen too far [and are out of line with other big ticket items] as manufacturers chase each other to the bottom of the market. This hasn’t happened with smaller kitchen equipment to the same extent, or with ‘status’ appliances like fridge/freezers and cookers.

People don’t quibble over the price of a new boiler but seem to think they can get a washing machine, tumble dryer and dishwasher all in for £600 . . . and then expect them to work every day for a decade!

If prices have to go up, then so be it. Currently unlucky consumers with faulty appliances are subsidising lucky consumers with faultless appliances. The total price paid for an appliance, including any possible future repairs, should be fixed at the time of purchase without the lottery of some consumers of the same product enjoying a low total cost of ownership and other consumers suffering a high total cost of ownership.

But why just discriminate appliances, surely you would have to apply that same rule to all products otherwise, it would not be fair?

K.

Quite agree – it goes without saying. The manufacturing quality of some household furniture and equipment is often pretty poor and the low quality is not necessarily reflected in the price. Fitted kitchen units are a case in point, and at a lower level pedal bins, ironing boards, and anything with knobs on that soon come off. Why should people have to keep replacing simple things? The arguments would arise over ‘unfair wear and tear’ I suppose. The rest of the domestic goods trade – outside of white and brown goods – gets an easy ride by comparison.

I hoped that when I started my sentence with “for example“, it indicated that domestic appliances were just an example, and that other goods should likewise be subject to longer limitation periods.

the guarantee should depend on the device and it relative cost

Congratulations on this post -a well written and considered comment with which I concur. Some manufacturers produce goods that are expensively branded and the name provides the excuse for the premium price. These are sometimes quite ordinary in their perfomance. Then there are those who build to a budget and sell at bargain prices. To do so, components are produced as inexpensively as possible and the product may not be very durable as a result. Finally there are those who design and build goods that just work correctly and provide long lasting service to the purchaser. They are happy to stand by their products and rely on reputation for repeat sales. No one is going to advertise a product as cheap and shoddy, and “Which” does a good job sorting the wheat from the chaff, but purchase price must influence expectation when it comes to longevity. Of course, cheap price might just mean less features on a good machine. Offering an extended warranty should be a positive selling point for any product, and it would be good if this became something that was key in the minds of the purchasers. The more demand for proof of quality as signalled by a long guarantee, the more pressure would be put on manufacturers to provide this in order to sell their particular product. At present we have an expectation that things will last and are then disappointed when they don’t. Make that expectation a demand that has to be met before a purchase is made. Make that expectation one that doesn’t mean purchasing extra warranty time. That puts the wrong emphasis on the deal- something that we can do without rather than something that is mandatory to provide.

If, as I agree, it will take a long time to introduce longer warranties then that is of no help to current consumers. That is why it is essential to use current legislation to support consumers. not by having to go to court or to get involved in expensive reports which puts people off but by using the strength of an organisation of 860 000 members to make retailers meet their legal obligations. Durability in my opinion is the key that needs properly addressing and using to ensure we get our rights fairly dealt with.

wavechange, I recognise the obstacles to people individually pursuing their legal rights which is why I believe we need the strength of a body like Which? to focus on it. The Sale of Goods Act offers in principle better protection than any warranty. and lasts longer than most. I do not understand why Which? have not tackled this as a remedy to many of the problems reported by consumers. It worked for a sofa recently! But if you want a guarantee for 3 years instead that only accepts pre-existing faults as a claim then so be it but for me that is not adequate consumer protection. Ideally we will have both available.

I agree, wavechange. My own experience over the last 20 years has only found one manufacturer who fought me to the edge of court action. But there’s a cost to this. We old gits have the knowledge, the smarts, the cussedness and above all, the time to follow it through. Most people don’t and quickly become bewildered. Just being a Which? member means that we’re more concerned and are more likely to do something than give up, bin the product and b***h about it in the pub.

Good convo Wavechange. 😀

We hear a lot about our rights under the Sale of Goods Act but nothing about retailers rights with manufacturers.

I would like to know more on what rights retailers have and how they recoup their losses with repairs and returned products.

alfa, I raised this same question in an earlier conversation in response to the question “why get at the retailers?” Well, the retailer chooses the product to sell, makes a profit and is the one with whom you have an implicit contract when you make a purchase. So they have responsibility to you to provide an appropriate product. The manufacturer may well be overseas, so even more difficult or impossible to deal with – and you have no contract with them So you claim off the retailer under SoGA. However, the retailer will also have a contract with their supplier – a wholesaler, distributor or the manufacturer; one assumes they will have a claim if defective goods are supplied to them.
I did ask this question of John Lewis (having made a SoGA claim) but they told me it was commercially confidential. I also asked a trade body who gave me a similarly unhelpful response. Perhaps someone in the trade might contribute the way retailers can claim recompense.

Kenneth, i understand your point – WEEE was introduced with good intentions to cut down waste and encourage recycling but best laid plans can be abused for profit – like carbon trading and the common agricultural policy. But this should not distract us from the key aim of making products repairable economically and last longer. That will reduce waste and, overall, benefit consumers as well as the “planet”.
Regarding “if its cheaper to replace than repair” then warranty or not the consumer and the retailer would no doubt both take the same action – to replace.

Exactly.

My underlying point is that extending the warranty period alone would not accomplish the environmental goals. It could in fact prove detrimental however, that’s an unknown without evidence, merely guesswork and assumption either way.

My gut instinct is to say that merely pushing for longer warranties is putting the cart before the horse as it were because, in some measure, the infrastructure isn’t in place to support it. For appliances at least, I can’t speak with any real authority on other products, there would have to be some seismic changes to enable this.

To illustrate, the number of repairers in the UK (and elsewhere) has been dropping year on year. There are now about half the number that there were a mere ten years ago. Most manufacturers now struggle in some or many areas to even have repairs carried out, even in built up areas. The choice that they have on companies to use is limited.

Where they employ their own, they struggle to get staff and this leads to the waiting times for service that you’ve no doubt seen reported in Which?.

If you cannot get techs to repair products now and, where you can it’s expensive then how on Earth are you going to support a longer warranty period? Where will the people to repair them come from? At what cost will it be? Will the wait times for service be acceptable to customers?

As I said, it’s a lot more complex than the simplistic (and IMO leading) poll on this page suggests and it is not something that will happen anytime soon and, not without a sea change in a number of areas.

K.

Kenneth, agreed. Extending the warranty period is merely, I hope, a means of getting more reliable appliances, so the need for a vast army of repairers should not need to materialise.

Sadly that wouldn’t appear to always be the case. A logical assumption though.

For example you’ll see a brand put out machines under another but with longer warranties.

Or, you can see quality reduced but the warranty static or extended.

I suspect they just take a punt based on the stats.

K.

I’d expect a manufacturer to factor in the cost of repair or replacement in their warranty. More reliable machines mean a lower support cost so it would be in their interests to pay attention to their quality. However their will no doubt still be a large market for cheap throw-away goods where quality will be secondary.

They do Malcolm.

So you have an average failure rate, it’s just the general way things are, of say 10% so we’ve got some good round number to illustrate.

Say the average life now is 5 years.

You have 10,000 machines PA.

You then expect to be carrying out 5,000 service calls over the five years. But that’s not the case, you have it ramping as well as the ebb and flow up to that number, you start at 1000 and slowly build to 5000-ish.

However if you extend the life to ten years, you need the capacity for double the volume of calls. Sure, you may get that average rate down a bit to maybe 7 or 8% but beyond that I think you’d struggle.

But then you’ve got 100,000 machines in operation so you have to think that you will require the capacity for 10,000 calls per annum, ten times where you started.

Best case then you’re looking at a 20-30% increase in service demand with a diminishing workforce to carry it out and no reduction in cost to accomplish that, if anything an increase.

Of course you can train and employ more techs but, that has a cost and it’s not small at all. You need to factor in the cost, where does the money come from to do that?

So then you go back to the WEEE things, is it cheaper to just swap it out or to repair?

Or, here’s an idea, what you could do is just offer the owner a replacement instead of service for a nominal fee and claim the waste costs back as well… genius!

Bonus, you don’t need to make the machines any better as the long warranty now generates more sales and profit. Isn’t that brilliant?

If I can work that out in ten minutes how do you really think that this’d play out?

K.

dieseltaylor says:
9 September 2015

I am unfortunately unable to agree with the statement by VH: ” “Which” does a good job sorting the wheat from the chaff” as demonstrably Which? does not.

In initial testing there is no problem but Which? is poor on the following up and this is the durability area which is why we have the current situation of goods that prematurely fail.

However let us start at the testing stage. Replaceable batteries ? Is it mentioned in Which? reviews for mobile phones? Is it relevant? Well that is a NO and YES.

I have been completing surveys for Which? for thirty years and only once have I been asked on the usage rate of a device. So bear in mind when looking at any reliability of brand table you see. How much usage an item gets is not asked for.

Incidentally in a survey you can normally only answer with one brand – I have four makes of power drill so three missed out.

Usage probably not that relevant for fridges etc but very different for cameras, vacuum cleaners , washing machines, power washers, hedge trimmers, strimmers, power drills etc.

I have bits of kit that have barely been used in five years. Unsurprisingly they are recorded as highly reliable for the survey. If I told you my ten year old car was very reliable and repair free would you want to know what the mileage was?

The Best Buy Logiks Food steamer which attracted over the past couple of years roughly 25 to 1 comments saying it was rubbish and barely lasted six months. Is that an area where at an early stage Which? might have gone OOps! perhaps we need to look at it again. I think so.

So Which? needs to up its game. The Stiftung Warentest in Germany has been testing since 1953 and certainly for washing machines runs them for 6 months solid. That is proper testing and may well explain why German consumer goods are so highly rated as the manufacturers are lambasted for shoddy goods. The Which? test for optical whiteness at 40C is hardly in the same league.

” Polls have shown that, when asked whom they trust, Germans answer: family, friends and the Stiftung Warentest. The Church comes fourth and the government some way after. “We’re an institution,” says Hubertus Primus, the testing body’s chief executive.” FT 2014

Given Which?’s membership of BEUC, and presumably potential interaction with the many European consumer organisations, I do not know why they do not seem to collate the testing information – such as you refer to – and act in a more concerted way. For example it seems the Dutch, through their consumer group, have been pretty successful in getting Sony to deal properly with Xperia Z screen and USB port problems. Which? do not seem to have been at all effective. Why does real cooperation and unified effort not seem to apply? Or is this an unfair view?

I don’t believe a manufacturer’s guarantee should cover accidental damage; that’s the job of an insurance. In the case of Xperia Z phones the volume of cracked screens and USB port failures seems excessive and not only due to misuse which is why concerted action might have been needed in the UK. The Dutch consumer organisation seemed to deal with it and get results.

Hi Malcolm, we have been in touch with the Dutch consumer org about the Xperia phones and their positive experience with Sony. We used that knowledge to aid us in talking with Sony UK. We would obviously like to see similar actions here.

We do work closely with our EU partners, and the Xperia issue is one that was original born out of conversations with them. We have used their advice and knowledge to help us here, but it’s a shame we haven’t had as much success, yet. We are the only EU consumer org to carry out lab tests on the phones, so please don’t think we haven’t taken the issue seriously.

Thanks Patrick. But does the group of European consumer associations act with one voice and always share information? If the Dutch are successful with Sony, why were we not?
Dieseltaylor points to what appears to be much more extensive product testing by Stiftung Warentest . Presume many of these are the same products that we use. Cannot this “common interest” information be shared, or is it all too commercial?

“I welcome consumer organisations working together and sharing resources.” But do they? I’d like reassurance that it happens routinely. dieseltaylor points to the extensive testing done by the German association. Have we seen and used their results?

A good topic wavechange. 🙂
Consumers have a right to expect a product to last trouble free for a reasonable time, depending upon price paid. Manufacturers should take responsibility for their products being durable, again in relation to the price charged. Durability is a clear concept; what needs to be specified is how durable different products should be and this is where work needs to be done by consumer associations to establish what is “reasonable” to expect. The BEUC report on product durability (BEUC are an umbrella organisation for all European Consumer Associations) continually stress durability in their report, along with repairability. They say ““durability” could be based on the expected lifespan: either as stipulated, for example in the eco-design directive for certain products, or as advertised or based on reasonable consumer expectations.”
At present the system is loaded in the manufacturers’ (and retailers’) favour with a derisory length of warranty and obstacles to using the Sale of Goods Act (soon to be the Consumer Rights act). If manufacturers offer longer guarantees they will factor in the cost of repairs. There is no sign though of a widespread and significant change in length of guarantee, certainly not that represents expected trouble free life, so how long will we have to wait?
Another option is to for manufacturers to be told to give consumers a choice between a standard guarantee and an add-on purchased manufacturer’s warranty that extends to the expected life. The quality manufacturers should score here – improved reliability, repairability, few failures, so a cheapish warranty. The rubbish manufacturers would be expected to be less competitive. We can then assess real cost of a product fairly.
The other alternative is the current “insurance based” warranty from a 3rd party that so far has been regarded as poor value for money.
It would be useful if Which? would re-examine the costs and value for money of existing purchased warranty schemes, including multi-appliance ones and cars, from manufacturers and 3rd parties. It would also be useful if Which? were proactive in promoting the Sale of Goods Act “durability” requirement to help deter retailers from bullying consumers into not pursuing their rights.
Meantime we probably have to rely on the EU to be lobbied into taking regulatory action. Hopefully BEUC have enough influence to help this along.

We certainly want to reduce waste by tackling the unnecessary problems caused by products that lack adequate durability and repairability.
My concern about long manufacturers’ guarantees included in the price is not the principle – that’s good – but the likelihood of it happening in the near future. I am also sceptical about longer guarantees written by manufacturers – what might they exclude that the consumer should rightly expect? I think it much more pragmatic to try for manufacturers add-on paid for warranties.
However we must remember that guarantees are at the discretion of the manufacturer and are not our prime reassurance. And they may refer only to a provable pre-existing “fault”. The law provides consumers with protection of up to 6 years already, not only against pre-existing faults but also for “general deficiency” (my words) in unreasonably short “durability”. This, I believe, is quite a different criterion from a pre-existing fault. To my mind it covers a poor design, poorly-specified (e.g. low quality) components, a poor standard of assembly, possibly lack of repairability, and such things. These may not reveal themselves in the first 6 months or so but simply, over an unreasonable period, cause the appliance (say) to fail earlier than should be expected.
I do not understand why we don’t make more of this when trying to resolve claims. i believe it needs the weight of a consumers association to make it happen.
I might be wrong! Someone who knows more (including Which? Legal) might put me right.

We have just bought a new TomTom. The old one gave up the ghost after 8 years good service and to give TomTom credit they were still supporting the product although maps and safety cameras came at a cost.

The very good support of TomTom is why we chose another TomTom rather than switching to Garmin.

The new TomTom comes with lifetime maps and safety cameras. To me, lifetime should mean as long as the product lasts. But it seems it is whenever TomTom decide is the end of its life which could be any time.

It will be interesting to see what happens, but if I don’t get my free lifetime maps and safety cameras as long as I own the product, they will lose me as a customer next time.

Going off-topic, I would like to see suppliers of map data decoupled from the supplier of satnav hardware, if necessary through regulation. Everyone should be able to choose which mapping provider (e.g. Google) to use in their satnavs. The days of satnav providers demanding a premium for mapping data, when better quality mapping data is available for free elsewhere, need to come to an end.

Thanks very much for the convo, Wavechange. I think John Lewis has had 2/5 year warranties on certain products since longer ago than you mention.

I agree we need longer warranties, for several reasons, including the environmental ones mentioned by Alfa. I also agree with Malcolm R’s suggestion of greater integration between consumer groups in different countries. My feeling is that we currently are divided and largely conquered.

Some manufacturers have started to use fairly prominent “Which? Best Buy” stickers on products as a badge of honour and to attract customers. If we are successful in getting matter-of-course longer warranties, manufacturers will then be able to use another badge of honour, such as “longer warranty because we believe in our products”, and maybe compete with each other.

I’m more reassured by a brand like Miele that tests its products for the equivalent of 20 years, than one that doesn’t. It is quite a separate issue from a guarantee. I have had nothing but good experience with the (few) Miele products we have owned. They do offer 5 to 10 year warranties as well. I recently bought a plastic catch for my 15 year old vacuum cleaner direct from them; cost less than £5 delivered.
I have a Hotpoint appliance with a 10 year parts only warranty. Great! But you have to use their engineers to repair it, seemingly charging £110. My local appliance repair guy charges less than half that – so a pretty useless “guarantee” in my book.

Sophie, I am against Which? allowing manufacturers’ to use the “Best Buy” endorsement in their advertising. A “best buy” product often has a fairly detailed informative report behind it which should be read – best buy products will have features that will not suit everyone. For example a recent tumble drier seemed a best buy partly because it was cheap, but came from a company with a poor reliability rating. Consumers may relate best buy status to the brand, not just a specific product. Which? charge up to £15000 for 6 months to use the logo, and I worry that such commercialism and the income it generates may cloud its role as an independent consumer organisation

As Which? themselves appear in the media maybe they should also advertise the Don’t Buys?

I have often thought products get “Best Buy” status because they are cheap.

Which? testing now seems to concentrate too much on the cheap end of the market with just the odd higher price item thrown in for good measure.

We tend to buy top of middle range or bottom of top range, very rarely bottom of a range and very occasionally top of the range. It does depend what the product is and its intended usage. But the products we are interested have rarely been tested by Which?

It makes me wonder who Which? test their products for. Do people who only want the cheapest of products bother paying a subscription to Which? Or do they rely on seeing a Which? best buy on retailers web sites and are Which now concentrating on these products because of the income it generates. I keep asking myself why I continue to pay a subscription to Which? when I get little out of it these days regarding product reviews.

“Best Buys” on cheap products give manufacturers little incentive to produce anything better and Which? is contributing to our throwaway society by concentrating on them.

Which? must have given permission for this sticker to be used? I disagree with you, Wavechange and malcolm r, but I take your point. Maybe the sticker could be modifed to say “this model is a best buy, read the report, subsribe and join us, united we are stronger”, or have I just written the chorus of a song?

Sophie, Which? sell permission to use the logo for 6 months (as far as I am aware). I am most concerned about its use in TV adverts where there is no opportunity to put in the sort of information you suggest. (Who has time to read the small print at the bottom of the screen if there was any, anyway?).
As for printed advertising only Which? members have access to product reports The vast majority of readers will not be members, and will not join, I think my concerns still stand. I believe it is Which? raising money in a way that really serves no other purpose as far as I can see.
Perhaps if Which? allowed the Logo to be used instead for brands that supported durability by giving long decent warranties I might be more sympathetic.

Both Which? and Choice in Australia started selling their BB logos in around 2010.

I believe that in its last Accounts Choice was earning around 0.3M Aus dollars from the label. The main point of interest was that one of its BB’s was made by a detergent company complicit in a scandal to make consumers pay more!

” Specifically, the ACCC alleges that Colgate, Cussons and Unilever Australia Limited (Unilever) entered into arrangements to:
cease supplying standard concentrate laundry detergents in the first quarter of 2009 and supply only ultra concentrates from that time;
simultaneously transition their laundry detergents to ultra concentrates which met certain requirements;
and sell ultra concentrates for the same price per wash as the equivalent standard concentrated products and not pass on the cost savings to consumers.
Unilever blew whistle
It appears that Unilever blew the whistle on the cartel and approached the ACCC seeking immunity. The ACCC said that Unilever applied for immunity under the ACCC’s Immunity Policy for Cartel Conduct.
Unilever consented to be named as the immunity applicant in this matter, the ACCC said this afternoon.”

I think that places any consumer body in a dilemma. Not reporting these cartel problems seems to be a theme as the same process was repeated in the EU.

Can you take money from a firm that has colluded to overcharge your subscribers?

Which? in the UK has well over 200 Best Buys by my rough count and certainly the like of Aldi and John Lewis must be paying the full whack of £15,000 per six months. Which has never revealed how much it earns from these – or for that matter how much they earn from pricerunner.com.

In the US Consumer Reports does actually tell you that linking from their site generates money to pay for testing. I think there needs to be a lot more transparency as to where money is coming from other than subscribers.

Hi all, really interesting to hear your discussion about our Best Buy endorsement scheme. I’m sure many of you are aware of this, but just a bit of background for you. We launched the scheme in 2007 as a way to publicly recognise excellent products and services, and of course to help people make informed buying decision. We only award a Best Buy to products that score the highest marks in our independent tests. There are then strict T&Cs for companies to abide by if they want to licence the Best Buys they’ve been awarded. For example, the logos can only be used on specific models and not at brand level. Any profits we make from the scheme are ploughed back into our campaign and charitable work on behalf of all UK consumers. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can read about it here: http://whichcorporate.co.uk/endorsement-schemes/ Thanks 🙂

Assuming a product does the job properly, then one measure of “value for money” is not low initial price but the annual cost – the initial price divided by the number of years it should last. Something, once we address durability, Which? could perhaps think of as a very useful bit of information. As they assess product reliability (but I’m not sure how they do this) it should not be difficult to provide such a £figure.

@patrick, the idea is laudable in principle and I, like some others, have looked at the scheme terms. It is I think not as simple as it seems though. You say “help people make informed buying decision.”. However no product is without its “cons” as well as its “pros” so unless you see the detail behind the test result – and you need to read the test report to see this, only available to Which? subscribers – you cannot make an “informed decision” on your own. I’d suggest the best buy Hotpoint tumble drier is an example, where their tumble driers are 3rd from the bottom in reliability. Not perhaps a “best buy” recommendation to some.
As for “the logos can only be used on specific models and not at brand level” again understood, but watching a brief TV advert I’d suggest you are quite likely to remember the brand more than the product detail.
I understand the money is ploughed back of course but the danger might be becoming too dependent upon this source of income, and perhaps, even unconsciously, being a little less willing to be too critical and a little more concerned to maintain the valuable income source.
Put simply, I’d prefer Which? to keep clear of such slightly muddy waters and be seen to be scrupulously independent.

The selling of the BB logo I have erred it was 2007 as the AGM Minutes show:
” The first ‘Best Buy’ awards ceremony had been held at the British Museum in London. This now coveted award could be seen in the national advertising campaigns of popular brands, and for the first time ever we were allowing the Best Buy icon to be used by those who receive it, raising awareness of Which? and highlighting good practice in an effort to drive out the bad.”

Which takes us to the matter of those that have subsequently had BB status taken away. Is there a list of those?

Minutes BTW are here
http://which.wikia.com/wiki/AGM_Minutes_2007

Is there a list of these?

The only company I’ve ever dealt with that will honour its obligations under the six-year-rule regarding goods and contract law is Apple. They not only publish consumers’ rights on their website but also – in my experience – replace and repair any of their products that fails within that period. That’s only one reason all our IT equipment is Apple.

This is a tricky subject. On one hand the benefits of a better built goods is beneficial to the environment: OTOH, longevity is not good for employment.

A manufacturer who targets mass-produced, cheap washing machines not only uses cheap components, but has low margins and needs a high turnover. If they use better components (and better design), the price goes up, sales fall because now many consumers cannot afford it and existing machines last longer, so production goes down, workers lose their jobs.

I can’t find any sales figures by manufacturer, but I bet Miele (who make the best) are way down the list because they are so expensive. That said, most Miele machines have a 10 year warranty. There’s an interesting article that argues that cheap machines are poor value, middling machines can be either and expensive machines are the best value.

http://www.ukwhitegoods.co.uk/help/buying-advice/washing-machine/3502-washing-machine-cost-breakdown.html

I have never liked the notion that we should hinder progress to save jobs. The number of jobs in an economy is related to the wealth of that economy. If domestic appliances and other products last longer saving the cost of repair and replacement then money is available to support other activities and expenditures thus creating new or protecting existing jobs. The fact that most domestic appliances are now imported adds a new dimension anyway.

Terfar, the points made in this article support a lot of the comments made in this conversation. If people were given full information they would see that a higher priced washing machine is likely to give them better durability and better value for money – annual cost of ownership will be lower. This means purchasers, instead of regularly forking out for a cheap replacement machine that also fails quickly, will have spare cash. They can spend this on something else. So other manufacturers will benefit. I think it is false economics to try to support manufacturing by promoting (I’m not suggesting you are doing this!) high volume throw-away cheap goods.

The economics are a bit like wine – a £4.95 bottle probably contains 40p worth of wine. The rest is production, bottling, transport, taxes, margin etc. Spend another couple of quid and the wine value is probably £2 – 5 times as much.

Wavechange, here’s some real stats for you as I posted in a trade area to highlight how insignificant that this “problem” (although this was based on the supposed “fires” of which there are reputedly greater numbers) actually is…

“But, when you think about it, just using the data that we do have…

There are approximately 27 million homes in the UK almost all of which will have a washer. Let’s say that there are 25 million washers out there for round numbers.

Using the average of 2.3 people to each doing the average 117 washes per year per person, that’s 269 washes per year, per home which equates to 6,727,500,000 wash cycles run in the UK every year.

Even if it was two fires per week that put the odds of such an instance happening to you at over 64,680,000:1.

The odds of being in a plane crash are 11,000,000:1 almost six times greater risk.

The odds of being killed in a car crash 5000:1. An order of magnitude more dangerous.

In actuality, you’ve more chance of death from falling out of bed and, I’m serious.

Out of all the washing machine fires I’ve seen over the past decade or so, not a single fatality. Not one. Ever.

So the odds of a washing machine causing a fatality through a fault or fire are utterly staggeringly, infinitesimally small so much so I can’t even point to a single example of it happening worldwide. Which is why nobody is interested.

The chance of a fire is extremely low even leaving aside the possibility of a fatality being caused.

Which goes to show you just how safe appliances actually are and it’s actually far more surprising that there are not more serious incidents than there are when you actually run the numbers and take into account some of the stupid things people do.

I’m not saying that anyone should be complacent at all, I’m just demonstrating what the actual risk is from a statistical viewpoint and why the press and government don’t care. And, probably never will unless there’s a big off like what happened to Beko recently where they can identify a potential (serious?) risk and hold someone accountable for it.

But, to get the numbers to do that to others given the data, probably nigh on impossible as there simply aren’t enough incidents to warrant it. then, when you do see them reported, not enough data as, like I said, you usually don’t even know what brand it was let alone anything else.”

If you wish to play the safety card then that’s fair enough but, the argument holds no water IMO.

And that’s before we get to the actual cause, with all these reports the door glass just “magically” blew… uh huh… sure.

K.

I’d disagree with that in part.

I think that the extremely low chance of me being killed in a plane crash or even experiencing an incident being so low offers great comfort and security.

Or for that matter, the fact that falling out of bed and being killed by that is a higher risk.

However, the data doesn’t offer much comfort if the plane you’re on falls out the sky either.

It’s just myself making it very clear that this is a largely nonsensical argument to put up as the chances of an incident are so ludicrously low as to be branded irrelevant. And, why that the article that you used is the way it is and why I would maintain strongly the position of, “In short, we’d say not to worry too much about it.”. Because in my view, it is so improbable an issue as not to be worth losing any sleep over.

Comments such as these regarding scare stories I often see in the media are in my mind just scare mongering and are totally uncalled for given the hard facts to hand instead of rhetoric.

All they’re looking for a is a juicy, attention grabbing (seeking) story to fill the pages with.

In the end, it’s often just claptrap.

K.

And of those, how many are related to electrical supply problems, misuse, spillages…

Then how many “fires” were a capacitor popping out some smoke or some other component? The machine ran till the bearings totally collapsed and the “smoke” was from the drum smacking off the door seal? Or the overloaded ones where the “smoke” or “fire” was the belt failing to cope and spinning on the pulley. Or how many as the chemistry set on top of the machine went up after something went wrong, it’s amazing how many people put flammables next to electrical appliances?

For that matter, how many were actual “fires” and how many were made out to be?

Using the fire service data doesn’t discriminate that data, all it does is tell you how many times they got called out for what, no more. It does not offer any further insight.

It means virtually nothing as the data is incomplete. That article actually raises more questions than it answers.

Makes a good headline though and gets everyone all *fired* up over not a lot.

If you apply common sense to it you’ll find that it’s not what it may seem to be at first glance. But it does sell the notion of signing up subscribers to buy a machine recommended by a certain magazine and puts their name in the news.

With an understanding of modern appliance design you would also know that the potential for any “fire” of any significance is incredibly low, the very design of them sees to that. And, using common sense again, how much in there is actually flammable and where it is, what sort of temperature do you need to get ignition?

Of the 1723 incidents I’d bet you dollars to donuts that the actual amount of genuine cases is in single digits, perhaps it’d struggle into double digits, maybe.

If you take the time to dig into the data you will see a very different picture I expect. If you can as, I bet it isn’t there in detail enough to actually analyse properly.

K.

“Washing machines are the most common cause of fires” can be a bit misleading, implying they are the appliance most prone to catching fire. You need to look at the number in use compared to the number of fires associated with them Tumber driers are 25% more likely to “catch fire” and dishwashers nearly twice as likely as W/Mcs.
However we also need to keep it in perspective – 0.008% of washing machines in the whole of the UK had a fire in the 3 years from 2011 to 2014. I don’t know how the data deals with the seriousness of the fire .
Hoover washing machines and Hotpoint tumble driers seem more prone to fire than other brands. Perhaps this information could be used when publishing the “pros” and “cons” in test reports 🙂

Yep, then you start to get a more accurate picture.

Hoover and Hotpoint are also two of the most common brands, Hotpoint with about a 28% share of all UK laundry appliances so, naturally, you would get more of them even if they were no better or worse than everyone else.

That is seldom ever factored in either.

K.

Kenneth, the Which? report on fires did allow for this and suggested that the incidence of fires from these two suppliers was above average, after considering their market share.

I’ve not seen the full report, only what was reported in the media.

Then some trade calls for it all to be regulated so you’d have a Gas Safe type thing going on for appliances. I’m sure people would be over the moon with the massive additional costs and burdensome nanny state type goings on where you’d have to get a machine fitted and inspected regularly for “safety” at owner’s costs by an “approved” and regulated operative.

For a handful of incidents a year that have resulted in the net fatalities of, zero.

If they do that though I’m signing up staff for it, make a mint from that I expect. 😉

Unintended consequences.

K.

Kenneth, I am not suggesting regulation (other than exists by making appliances comply with EN standards). My post was intended to point to the extremely low incidence of fires (which presumably extend from very minor upwards) and, as you point out, caused by abuse as well as defect. The statistics do matter when deciding what action should be taken. Nothing here suggests cause for panic.

Quite.

The purpose of the last comment was to illustrate what I have already seen happen around this whole notion of “fires” along with how counter-productive this kind of thing can be and, government actually took it seriously at one stage because of what they saw in the media. Until that is the facts were presented, not the fiction that would allow for the likes of above.

A real world example of how a story like that can be twisted and used for something that it was never intended for. As, for government, I expect it’s easier to regulate after the fact than to try to take global corporations to task on the quality as legislating that would be a nightmare I’d imagine, as this thread I think shows.

K.

No arguments from me about glass doors: why do we need to see the washing? Most dishwashers and tumble dryers now have solid doors: washing machines easily dispense with them.

If you ask me, there’s no need for glass on oven doors either, daft idea. Or vacs that allow you to watch the dirt from your carpets spin round and round.

But people seem fascinated by this and buy such things.

But dishwashers have rarely been seen with glass on the door, Electrolux did it for a while and gave it up due to lack of interest.

Dryers I guess to try to stop people opening the door prematurely and blowing the stats. Very common for people to do that (even on sensor dryers) just to see if “it’s done yet”.

K.

I disagree on oven doors. It is convenient to be able to see how something is cooking without having to open the door. With vacuum cleaners, although it is not strictly necessary to see into the cyclone chamber it does give you an idea of how well the machine is coping; it is very useful to have a transparent dust container so you can see when it needs emptying.

You just have to watch the Great British Bake-off to see how much use is made of see-through oven doors. I would also promote transparent collection chambers on vacuum cleaners. You might see when something valuable has been inadvertently sucked up its insides – a coin, missing screw, wedding band or diamond earing…..without having to sort through a bag full of debris. I often hear a rattle as something anonymous travels up the tube – is it worth investigating further?

If there is a glass door then it can blow. That’s it. No way round it.

For most cooking, it is not required. It may be a convenience for sure but, it is not a requirement as strangely most people managed without see through doors for a couple of centuries or more without it.

There is a marked difference between “want” and “need”.

I have a range cooker that has solid steel doors. I have this as I cook and have no requirement to look in on what’s in there all the time. I cook so I know what should be happening when and, I can open the door a little to see should I need to.

The benefits outweigh the disadvantages of a glass door.

It’s easier to clean and doesn’t attract the same staining.

It’s more durable.

It insulates better and temperature stability in the cooking cavity is improved.

So, sure, you may well think it’s convenient but practical, not really.

Bagless cleaners, in my opinion, are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

They are poorer performing on the whole, the performance degrades and they are generally hold a poor build quality and reliability. Great for me selling parts, not so good for owners.

Hearing stuff rattle up the tube could be anything Malcolm, from a bit of debris to as you say, something that may be worth saving. No way to know really and I’d guess most people wouldn’t bother to look either.

What I will say is that proper vacs that actually work like Sebo and Miele will run rings round any bagless cleaner all day long, every day in terms of performance. That’s why you will never see a bagless cleaner used commercially, they just can’t perform.

But people buy them as they look a bit funky and probably they think not buying bags is a good thing when, in my opinion, that’s a complete falsehood.

I can’t name the one (bagless cleaner) I’m thinking about as, if I were to do so there’s every chance I’d see the inside of a courtroom for slagging them off. They don’t take criticism well.

K.

Some years ago, an electrical retailer remarked on the heap of Dysons out the back waiting for collection. Apparently Dyson didn’t repair them, but just replaced them when they became faulty.

That always put us off buying a Dyson. They are expensive cleaners and I have always thought the high price was to cover all the replacements rather than paying for a good quality item.

We have a Sebo, probably 10 years old now, that is an excellent cleaner, never had a problem and far better quality than a Dyson.

Perhaps all manufacturers, through their retailers, should be required to subscribe to, and subsidise, schemes to repair and resell a certain proportion of particular electrical appliances that have failed and been sent to waste. This might make repairability and durability a more attractive proposition. It could also provide a source of cheaper appliances for those in need.

An excellent idea Malcolm.

This sort of scheme could greatly improve product quality as well as providing a source of cheaper appliances. Manufacturers would find it harder to ignore common faults if they had a workshop full of the same products with the same faults and had the job of fixing them.

In a round about way, this is sort of being looked at.

It’s all part of the “circular economy” that is championed by Ellen McArthur, you can read a lot more about that here:

http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org

There are a number of challenges involved not least of which are resistance from consumers to adapt to having to pay more and not change things as often as well as from producers to move to a more sustainable business model.

One needs the other to accomplish anything as it’s a completely symbiotic relationship with one reacting to the other.

But, that’s before you get to the nuts and bolts of it all.

It is not simple and, as pointed out by Ms McArthur and many other people, myself included, it won’t happen quickly.

What your’e talking about Malcolm is currently being looked at by WRAP under the banner of REBus and Ill be honest with you, in the current market conditions it is an unworkable notion.

I’m not going to go into massive detail but, suffice to say, that there are any number of source out there including a report by me that will explain at length why that is. It is a very complex area.

K.

In a round about way, this is sort of being looked at.

It’s all part of the “circular economy” that is championed by Ellen McArthur, you can read a lot more about that here:

ellenmacarthurfoundation-dot-org

There are a number of challenges involved not least of which are resistance from consumers to adapt to having to pay more and not change things as often as well as from producers to move to a more sustainable business model.

One needs the other to accomplish anything as it’s a completely symbiotic relationship with one reacting to the other.

But, that’s before you get to the nuts and bolts of it all.

It is not simple and, as pointed out by Ms McArthur and many other people, myself included, it won’t happen quickly.

What your’e talking about Malcolm is currently being looked at by WRAP under the banner of REBus and Ill be honest with you, in the current market conditions it is an unworkable notion.

I’m not going to go into massive detail but, suffice to say, that there are any number of source out there including a report by me that will explain at length why that is. It is a very complex area.

K.

“I presume that current Dyson cleaners are better made than the early offerings.”

Nope. Or not in my personal opinion (to avoid being sued for something).

They just have a five year warranty is all.

But then, when you’re charging more for a vac that’s essentially a lump of plastic than many a washing machine, cooker, fridge freezer and so on, you have the margin to be able to do that.

And, people seem keen to buy them.

Like I said and, as pointed out below by Alfa as a case in point, buy a Sebo. Better performance and it’ll last a lot longer despite what the Dyson propaganda machine might say.

K.

I’ve just seen the poll “How long should a manufacturer’s warranty last?”. Well, it depends upon the product. And for a product type it will depend upon the price largely – how long we might expect the product to last trouble free. So I don’t see this as a sensible poll. Sorry. 🙁 Perhaps the right question would be: if the expected trouble free life of a product should be “x years” how long should the guarantee be? Just as (or more) important is “what should the guarantee cover?” Should it only relate to what can be proved was a pre-existing fault, or should it recognise that it should cover “unreasonable durability “, as required by the Sale of Goods Act

The warranty should depend on the type of product. Examples: Car 5a, camera 3a, bicycle 2a, shoe 1a. To define just one length of warranty for completely different products is not a good idea. Toyota, for instance, give five years warranty. Some car manufacturers with a lower quality standard may just allow two years of warranty.

These days you can get a 5 year guarantee on cars such as Toyota. A modern car is far more complex than any household appliance therefore if car manufacturers can give a 5 year guarantee then why can’t the makers of white goods and electronic equipment?

Products should be more reliable, easy to repair and covered by longer warranties (guarantee).
But…
Who is willing to pay a LOT more for new products? Who wants products to last a long time e.g. 20 years? Who wants to keep products for many years – instead of buying the “latest and greatest” fashionable ones?
I would answer “yes” to all. I don’t think many people nowadays would want to buy expensive products and keep them for years and have them repaired instead of throwing out.

Only time will tell, particularly if EU legislation interferes (as it has with energy efficient light bulbs). It will be interesting to see if and when consumers are given the whole information about a product – including its durability, repairability, warranty length, annual cost say, whether they choose throw-away or keep. We use very few of the many programmes and spin speeds on our washing machine, its OK with energy and water use and does a decent job. Our last one was with us doing much the same for 9 years – why should I want to replace it before it stops working? 🙂

Quite correct and an argument that I have seen used by manufacturers.

Basically, people change their kitchens and appliances more often than this, it is only a small niche that seem not to or, not want to. So, they don’t bother to cater to those people, there’s too few and not enough willing to pay what that costs as it is considerably more than a product you throw away every few years.

My personal opinion is that this is wrong, misguided and damaging but, you can’t argue with hard data.

K.

Dave – Again, it depends what it is. I don’t see why people should need to replace domestic appliances that often. OK, if they want to smarten up their home or get a newer model with more sophisticated features and with better energy performance that is their choice, but with many products today people are deprived of that choice because the machine is just not durable enough or has inherent design and manufacturing shortcomings. So it breaks down, can’t be economically repaired, and gets scrapped. Most of the embedded energy in producing that appliance is thus wasted.

There are a lot of people in this country who cannot afford to replace their appliances and other domestic equipment every few years – you only have to spend a little time on a property website to notice that. They deserve to have a reasonable service life out of their equipment, especially if they paid a good price for it in the first place when they might have been better off.

As has been pointed out elsewhere in this Conversation, the price of some domestic appliances has fallen so far in real terms, and out of line with other major purchases, that it is wrong to think that we would have “to pay a LOT more for new products”. There comes a point when the price [and consequently the quality] falls so far that value is destroyed.

I agree John with much of what you say.

It galls me however that people are being sold the notion that features are worth the cost as they are often not or, not worth it. The energy savings are at best marginal. And, we’ve discussed the durability thing to death so I think we all broadly agree on the point that that’s often not there either.

If it’s for cosmetic reasons then fair enough. I am not saying I hold with that but, not a lot you can do about it.

Just today I posted a news article on LG’s new stuff and, it’s just complete PR bull manure to try to sell old technology wrapped up as being wondrous and new. Trouble is, lot’s of people swallow it hook, line and sinker.

K.

You mean like our washing machine having “Fuzzy Logic” !!!!! Now it could have i-Dos or VarioPerfect.

And that is just Bosch.

The chassis still looks white but the plastic has yellowed so now looks old. It still won’t get replaced until it comes to the end of its life though and at least technology doesn’t force us to buy a new one.

Yes, pretty much.

Most of the features that are oft cited as a reason to buy are never used, I worded that badly in the previous comment.

Things that are transparent in use are obviously used but many things are not, such a specialist wash programs, rotisseries in ovens, vacation modes for fridges and so on. Yet, for some unfathomable reason people seem to pay more for such things and some will even avoid one product in favour of on with what I often think they’ve convinced themselves is the “must have” feature.

The classic example of this is connected appliances, a subject in another conversation here. You have to wonder, how many people would ever use it beyond the initial gimmick of it? And, is it really worth the huge premium? Further, does it enhance reliability or durability?

I suspect you will likely already know the basic answers to those questions for the most part.

K.

I totally agree K. But some people like grown-ups “toys” which is what a lot of features, and “upgraded” products provide. Novelty that no doubt wears off, but it is a way of manufacturers persuading some (or maybe many) to replace products that don’t need replacing to fuel their business.

The Which? home page promotes the “Top 5 best tumble driers”. It includes a Hotpoint as “a fantastic drier for the money” (£149). Hotpoint tumble driers come 3rd from the bottom in the January appliance reliability report. There is no mention of guarantee length or reliability in the report that I can see.
It is time Which? addressed durability, warranty length and reliability as key information when reporting on products. Cheap may suit a lot of people but if it were to follow the poorer reliability of the brand that buyers were not made aware of then value for money may not be so attractive.
Kenneth pointed out above an interesting cost breakdown of a washing machine at different prices. I wonder just how much money is left from £149 to make the actual drier when you strip out all the profits, shipping, storage, tax, retailing and other costs?

wavechange, Which? suggest different outlets may offer different warranty lengths, therefore can’t publish them. But, as you intimate, different outlets offer different prices, yet Which do publish a “price”. Like you, I struggle to see the diference

“I wonder just how much money is left from £149 to make the actual drier when you strip out all the profits, shipping, storage, tax, retailing and other costs?”

At an educated guess… about £50-65 at most but probably less, quite possibly a lot less.

K.

And there’s probably a thousand of them standing on shop floors for customers to poke about and play with. Some of them might get sold at a discount but many will just be wasted as unsaleable.

I doubt that these days, display stock is something to be avoided if at all possible in this day and age, it’s costly.

Most will be in warehouses and will get sold off one way or another.

I think for most retail businesses nowadays the supply chain is kept as short as possible so hardly anyone holds excess stock at all unless they buy it in at a good price and the margin covers the cost and justifies that.

That’s why when you see “sale” and especially the almost permanent sale from some, it’s a joke in my eyes. More so when it’s the likes of furniture where they order it from factory anyway.

Loads of people fall for it though or, they wouldn’t do it. It’s just marketing and PR in action I guess.

But for appliances, nobody holds excess stocks, there’s not enough margin for anyone in the chain to be able to afford to do that.

K.

Buying online is often done in the absence of “display stock” to examine. Anyway, can you judge much from looking at a washing machine, other than its superficial features (and perhaps robustness of some of its bits?). This is why it is so important to have product reports based on good research and properly tested, including durability, so we can make better-informed decisions.

Correct.

Testing durability is a total nightmare for appliances though. The only real way to do that is to run a design 24/7 for however long and you need to run multiple examples of them as well so it’s not a quick or cheap thing to do. Plus, but the time you get results the model is likely superseded so they’re useless.

I’m sure there’s likely shortcuts there but I am not aware of any for appliances.

I’d think that’s why Which? can’t do that and have to rely on surveys to get information as best they can without the time or expense to get what would in all probability be largely useless results.

But layered on top that you have models with the same designation but multiple variants depending on the point of manufacture. Most models now will have multiple variations through time and some I’ve come across, while having the same model number, have been made in different facilities with not a single shared component.

All in all, I know what you’re saying and why, I completely understand the reasoning but it’s not so easy to do.

Probably the best you could get is someone that knows the machines cracking it open and having a look to see what the deal is inside. Many stay largely the same, for example, the core Electrolux tank unit known as Nexus hardly changed at all from the nineties through to modern times and, even the current generation are largely a variation on the theme so far as I can tell.

I expect it is that way because, the technologies of the mechanics have changed little other than tweaking and the investment to alter is monumental.

So you get the likes of welded tanks sure, but it’s only that they’ve removed the bolts and welded it shut, not a lot more to it than that really. Cheap, easy, saves a packet and the guy that dreamed that one up got a cracking bonus that Christmas.

K.

Kenneth, I agree. There are techniques well established for interpreting accelerated test results. Dieseltaylor also pointed to the German consumer association that runs washing machines for 6 months and seemingly comes up with more useful data. Miele test for the equivalent of 20 years use I believe and it seems to pay off?
We have 40 consumer organisations within Europe with the umbrella organisation BEUC. I would have thought if only they cooperated with each other and shared testing and results (but do they?) we could cover a lot more products and get much more useful data from user surveys.
Your idea of an expert taking a machine apart to examine the build and design would, I’d have thought, be a big contribution to assessing a product.
I take your point about manufacturers using multiple sources. As for machines being superceded, out of ignorance of the industry I would have though machines generally progress “incrementally” rather than in dramatic changes, so extrapolating from one model to the next may be valid. Equally, a company philosophy on design, quality, choice of decent (or otherwise) components, and quality control would, I imagine, not normally change radically. So maybe there would be some consistency to rely upon?

And for your prize for winning that, you get all the baggage discussed previously to boot too.

Repeating over and over the same desired result will not make all the issues surrounding achieving that just evaporate.

But as I said earlier, your logic does not track true in the real world WC, if desired a way can be found around that for producers. It’s not just a simple as tacking on a warranty and hoping as, that’s all it is, that that alone will lift the quality as it probably won’t IMO.

K.

Any conversation depends upon a diversity of views, knowledge and opinion for it to make real progress. Sometimes our beliefs are shaken by unexpected informed contributions, and at other times an odd point of view can lead us off in a different direction. Long may it continue to help us learn. I would like more contributions from Which? particularly when their own position is being discussed.

I’m not asking you to believe anything, merely accept facts.

If you can come up with a sensible way around the issues to get what you want then fair enough but, in the absence of such then I’m afraid that you will probably get nowhere.

You also don’t have a right to any warranty beyond what is offered. In fact, goods can be sold with no warranty whatsoever other than the basic statutory rights. Any warranty is offered over and above those basic rights.

As much as you may like to debate that it is the case in law unless you or someone else can illustrate otherwise?

So if you want extended warranties made mandatory you need to convince the entire consumer goods sector to bend to that request, extremely doubtful. You need to change the law in several areas, including quite probably across the EU. And, you need to convince the public that paying more for all that is just fine.

Methinks you’ve a fight on your hands there.

But, I wish you all the best with it as I won’t waste time fighting battles I know I can’t win.

In the end though, I could care less as I’ve no vested interest in protecting manufacturers so, anything you can do to get the prices of replacements up works in my interest and that of the service side so, I truly mean it when I wish you luck with it.

K.

I’ve been at this for over a decade now and, the barriers that will be put up to this by from government, business and ultimately the public who will foot the bill for it all seem either not to be too bothered about it or, realise it’s too costly and difficult.

You can argue the case but I don’t think it’ll fly.

To accomplish the goal, if the goal is longer lifespan, I don’ think that you’ll get anywhere with this approach. I don’t even think that Which? would or, even consumer associations across the EU en mass.

The reason is the legislative changes required coupled with the inevitable increase in costs, more so in the current climate in much of the EU.

I mean, can you imagine a politician standing up and telling the public that they have secured the benefit of longer life and longer warranty but, all the goods you buy are about to rise in price to pay for that.

In a time of austerity as economies are struggling to recover?

I don’t think so, I think they’d avoid that like the plague.

Therefore my take is that there’s no appetite for this and, keep in mind you’d have to have this applied to all consumer goods so you would affect not just appliances but everything across the board. The implications of it are massive and the full effect and cost incalculable without substance and data.

K.

Kenneth, i believe you are right in that legislation will be required, as the BEUC report says. The purpose of such legislation would be to avoid squandering resources in a world where they are finite, and dealing with ever increasing mountains of waste – it has to happen at some point.
Although the initial purchase price might be higher we need to educate people to think of the real cost of ownership. The longer a product lasts the less it cost the owner each year as they don’t have to repair or replace it. This is where Which? could help by providing such information.
One of the barriers to people making purchasing choices seems to be a lack of the information needed that is relevant – deliberately or by omission. It needs to change.

A manufacturer’s extended warranty will cost money – even good quality products will require more attention the longer they are in use. The consumer will pay for this “free warranty” in the initial price. I don’t see why we should be expected to get this for nothing.
The effect of longer warranties – and they must match the reasonable expected life of a machine to be of real value – would be for manufacturers to make better products that will last. They won’t want to pay for repairs. It is longer life appliance that I want in the end; the warranty is only a means to achieve this.
Meantime, we should use the Sale of Goods Act which gives us a legal right to expect a product to be durable for up to 6 years.

I agree with the sentiment in broad terms however:

“Meantime, we should use the Sale of Goods Act which gives us a legal right to expect a product to be durable for up to 6 years.”

It doesn’t do that at all.

Once you acknowledge that things get clearer as, there’s not even the expectation or the mechanism to ensure that *any* product has a serviceable life that long in law.

No stipulation that spares must be available.

No stipulation that service must be.

Therefore, how can you have a long warranty or, what’s the point of it, if there’s no means by which to execute it.

So, any legislation surrounding warranties without the basic building blocks in play before you even begin would be unenforceable.

Logically then, how do you legislate across all these products without knowledge that everything is in place to make that work somehow?

This then brings you to the next bit, who would enforce it?

You are correct, the waste is a huge problem and one that will not go away but getting governments motivated to do something about the culture of consumption that we have which, will mean shrinking economies to some degree, will be a very difficult challenge.

In my experience they all want to be green, reuse and recycle but don’t really want to see anything upset the apple cart too much.

K.

Kenneth, “Meantime we should use the Sale of Goods Act which gives us the legal right to expect a product to be durable for up to 6 years”.
Sorry, I think this was badly worded. What I meant was that we have legislation available for 6 years and that it requires a product to be durable. The reasonable length of time a particular product would be deemed adequately durable will, of course, depend upon the product and the price for example. However the legislation overrides manufacturers’ guarantees. So in an extreme case when a product fails just after the guarantee has expired it should enable the customer to get some redress – that seems often currently denied. Beyond that, we should expect many products, like mid-priced appliances, to last well beyond the derisory 1 or 2 year guarantee; the legislation should be used to help consumers here also.
My point is we will be unlikely to see decent “free” longer warranties anytime soon. We still need to protect consumers from retailers who are unaware of, or unwilling to exercise, their legal obligations.