/ Money, Motoring

Brief cases: complaining about major parts failing on new car

fixing car brakes

If you pay £21,000 for a brand new car, would you expect major parts to fail after three-and-a-half years and with only 13,000 miles on the clock?

Which? Legal member Robin Dadson came to us for help after important parts of his new car started to fail.

Robin paid around £21,000 for the then brand new Skoda Yeti Crossover in March 2013. By January 2016, when he had only driven it for 13,000 miles, he noticed the rear brake discs were corroded.

The original dealer was no longer trading, so he took the car back to its successor. Both the new dealer and Skoda said the problem was fair wear and tear. Skoda said the replacement wouldn’t be covered by warranty because of the time that had elapsed and it refused to take further action.

Ten months later, when Robin took the car in again for a check-up, the condition of the brakes was such that the dealer suggested Robin replace them.

It also highlighted a problem with the Haldex pump in the four-wheel drive. The costs of repairing the brake discs and pump was around £300 each.

At this stage, Robin came to our lawyers for advice.

Our advice on complaining about a faulty new car

We told Robin that if you pay £21,000 for a car, you could reasonably expect it not to have major parts failing after three-and-a-half years. So, although the original dealer had stopped trading, he could still complain to Skoda.

Robin got in touch with Skoda again, which rejected his claim. However, he persisted and, armed with our advice, took his complaint to a higher level.

He was then offered a ‘goodwill gesture’ of £300 in relation to the pump. Robin accepted this and reluctantly paid for the brake disc repairs himself. This solution compensated him for repairing one of the faulty parts and also took into account his having more than three years’ use of the car.

As Robin bought the car before 1 October 2015, his rights are under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (for contracts after that date it’s the Consumer Rights Act 2015), which says that goods must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose. If they’re not, the customer can ask for them to be repaired or replaced within a reasonable time.

It can be tricky to exercise these rights when there is a dispute between the customer and seller over whether the items failed due to wear and tear or due to a breach of contract. So, it’s often necessary to get expert opinions.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the April 2017 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you ever had to complain directly to a manufacturer about a faulty new car? Were you successful in receiving compensation?

E morton says:
20 November 2017

I have just today put my house on the market they sent a valuer to value it he said what I said it was worth so l said ok that’s ok he asked us for our driving licence and asked for £15pounds to get the ball rolling,his boss came round 1hr later to check the house and price was right she said you have gone for the full package premiums listing I said I don’t know she said I have to got it is getting late .staight away I rang the estate agent but they where closed I left a message staining I did not want premium listing I e this is were the £150 comes from


This Convo seems to have departed from its topic – about cars. Maybe the topic on the Consumer Rights Act should be resurrected for these other failures?

Leonardo Delgardo Johnson says:
21 November 2017

[Sorry, your comment has been removed to align with our community guidelines. Please ensure that all comments are on-topic and are not rude or offensive. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Trisha barber says:
23 November 2017

My friend bought a fridge online that was advertised at 10.50 but later that day was emailed stating it was a price error and she would be reimbursed the money she had paid how does she stand on this and getting the actual product for the price that was advertised at


It will depend on the terms & conditions of the company. I’m sure your friend would want a mistake rectified if they had lost money due to a mistake, so why try to exploit a company?


The advertisement is an “offer to treat” and not a contract to sell. The seller is within their rights to withdraw the item from sale. Some retailers will honour a pricing error but only if the difference is marginal and as an act of goodwill. These considerations rarely apply in distance selling where there is no face-to-face contact. A fridge for £10.50 has “mistake” written all over it so a wary buyer would be prepared for disappointment.

keith says:
25 November 2017

If I buy goods by either phone, or paper advert and the goods are faulty or damaged, am I responsible for the return costs. Even if it is stated in the terms and conditions.


Return of goods ordered online, by telephone
or by mail order

The retailer’s terms and conditions should say who pays for returning goods. If they don’t, then the retailer has to pay, not the customer. Retailers may also set out the way they want goods to be returned, but this cannot be unreasonably expensive or difficult.

In the case of faulty goods being returned because they are not fit for purpose, do not match their descrption, or are not of a satisfactory quality, the customer is entitled to claim the cost of postage from you or to request that you arrange collection of the item.“

Tina says:
1 December 2017

I pucrchaded a item online through instergram. The order came one day late and also is too big for me although it is a size 6(smallest size they have)
I checked the website for returns advice and it stated I had 14 days for refund.
When I msged them via instergram they stated that the new returns policy has not loaded up on there site and then showed me a new returns policy.
She had refused to refund my item.
What Can I do?
I have now checked they website and they changed what I had read ealier about having 14 days to return.
I did use a credit card to purchase.
Shall I return the item still as I don’t want it to go out of the 14 day consumers right.
Please help

Martin says:
3 December 2017

Hi Tina,

Assuming it was a new item, the seller cannot deny you the right to return within 14 days. If their new returns policy says otherwise, it is illegal.

On the EU website, you can find some infomation here:

Under the “cancel and return your order” tab, you will find:

“14 days to cancel and return purchases made outside shops (online, by phone or mail order)

In the EU you have the right to return these purchases within 14 days for a full refund. You can do so for any reason – even if you simply changed your mind.”

Specifically for the UK:


Hi Tina, thanks for getting in touch. When you order from an online store you have a 14-day cooling off period, which starts from the day you receive your items. You can read more about your rights here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/can-i-cancel-an-online-order#cooling-off-period-for-goods

I hope this helps.

helen says:
4 December 2017

Hi ,In 2011 i bought a fridge/freezer for 700 pounds it was a top of the range model ,after 2yrs it broke with a lot to do Hotpoint replaced it free of charge ,the next one was the supposed upgrade on the old one ,now four yrs later the same thing has happened to the replacement with the same fault ,an engineer had been called out in 2015 and the fix was simply defrosting the product and we where told it was a design fault that was happening regulary with this model ,as with the old one the defrosting technique only worked a few times and then the machine wouldnt go at all .As it was Hotpoint that replaced the original one my contract was with them ,they do not want to know and just keep repeating that the product is out of warranty and if we would like to pay for an engineer to come out they will gladly send one , have I any come back under the sale of goods act and if so which part is relevant to my claim . PS I have also done a search on the network and there is quite a few complaints on there with the exact same problem we have .


Hi Helen, thanks for getting in touch. We’ve got some advice on the sales of goods act, which you may be interested in. You can find this information here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/sale-of-goods-act#who-is-responsible

I hope this helps 🙂


The Sale of Goods Act applies and says….
“You are responsible for the goods you sell and if a customer returns an item they purchased from you that is faulty (it does not conform to contract) because it…..
• is not of satisfactory quality
…..quality of goods includes….
– in good working order
– durability

you (not the manufacturer or supplier) are legally obliged to resolve the matter with the customer at any time for up to six years from the date of purchase, or in Scotland for up to five years from the discovery of the problem. Any refund, repair or replacement you arrange with your customer relating to faulty goods must not cause them too much inconvenience and you will have to pay for other costs, for example, collection or delivery.”

“You” means the retailer but I would suggest the manufacturer’s direct involvement requires them to deal with this.

If this was an admitted fault, or if it was a widespread fault, then I would suggest the approach would be on two fronts. 1) Defective design so a pre-existing fault and 2) given its price it lacks reasonable durability. The Act provides redress and that may well include am allowance for the time you have had use out of the appliance. I suggest you collate the evidence and submit this with your claim to Hotpoint, pointing out your legal rights under SoGA.

@awhittle, Alex, would Which? agree with this approach?

Vicki says:
6 December 2017

Can anyone advise please? We ordered £2000 of oak flooring after receiving 2 samples ( the samples were the same colour ‘antique whisky’ and looked the same). When the flooring arrived it was a much darker colour and different tone to the sample and the boxes stated that the flooring was ‘antique light black’. I have contacted the company which we bought it off and they are saying that it is a different batch to the sample we received and is therefore the right product but the colour can vary ( I don’t actually believe them as the product sent is so different to the sample). If there was a slight difference we wouldn’t have minded but it really is several shades darker and a completely different tone. Could you please advise what are rights are for returning the product. As far as I am concerned what we received is not what we ordered and does not look anything like the sample we received before buying. I have a feeling they are going to ask us to pay the cost for return of the item.


You could ask a friend to order an ‘antique whisky’ sample, then photograph the 2 together to prove they are different.


If Vicki’s flooring is described differently from the sample or obviously looks different she can reject the goods within 30 days and the retailer should pay the collection costs. To avoid possible problems in recovering carriage charges it is worth asking them to collect the goods. Here is advice from Which? https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-reject-a-faulty-product-and-get-your-money-back


Thanks Wavechange, you beat me to it 😉
Vicki, please keep us updated, we’d love to know what happens.


Extracted from Consumer Rights Act 2015 explanation:
3. The Goods should be what the consumer expects
The goods that the consumer receives must:
 Match any description by which the goods were presented
 Match any sample of the goods that they examined or saw
A sample is a smaller part of, or example of, the goods, held up as being representative of the goods as a whole (for example, a consumer buying curtains after having looked at a swatch of the material they will be made from). The goods delivered must match the sample – for example, in terms of quality and appearance.

You appear to have a clearcut case to have the flooring replaced or refunded, and collection by the seller, as they neither match the samples nor description. Hopefully you have the original samples and the order you placed stated the colour you required correctly.

John Vesey says:
9 December 2017

Hi John, I have looked through the previous tweets and cannot see any information in regards to a replacement. Could you please confirm where or when this was offered, as I may be missing something. In regards to a repair, this would be done through HP. As the item is not outside the one year warranty offered by ourself. If you contact HP, they will be able to assess the item and find out what’s wrong. From here they would offer a repair. If this item cannot be repaired then HP would then give you a reference number for a replacement. – Sarah.

BigDog says:
12 December 2017

Hi, we purchased a carpet and needed to order a much larger section than we needed, due to the size of room. The installer cut the carpet to the required length, then needed to cut down the offcut/spare piece, to make a join in the room. This was supposed to leave us with an offcut that we could use elsewhere. This offcut arrived to the retailer damaged however. Given that they have already cut a piece from the offcut, to complete the initial install, with the join – are we entitled to a refund on the piece that is now un-usable, but we have paid for?


This is an interesting question, BigDog. It could depend on whether or not you explicitly specified when ordering the carpet that any surplus remaining after covering the floor was to be used in another place and had to be fit for that purpose. When carpet suppliers measure up a room they plan the most economical layout [in terms of the overall area of material required to cover the floor] and regard what’s left over as waste. It is sometimes offered to the customer but sometimes it is just taken away. Sometimes the carpet is cut to shape – but oversize – before being delivered and the remainder is never seen. It possibly goes into stock as a remnant or might be cut with the corners radiused and whipped all round to bind the edges so it becomes a mat or rug. If you made it clear that you wished to retain the remnant and use it as floor covering elsewhere, and if the price you paid was fully inclusive of the entire square meterage that you ordered, then I think you are entitled to compensation for the loss of the portion that was damaged and unusable for the purpose you intended.

Lynne cunningham says:
12 December 2017

Hi, I would be grateful for some advice. My mother purchased a chain from warren james from my father and was advised on two occasions as she was unsure about it that she could return it with her receipt and get a full cash refund. I tried to return the chain and was advised that it is not company policy not to give money refunds and they can only give a credit voucher. I contacted head office and this was the response.

Warren James will happily exchange unwanted or unsuitable items if returned to us in an unworn resalable condition within 16 days of purchase accompanied by a receipt. This exchange policy is in addition to your statutory rights. For our terms and conditions please see the reverse of your receipt and the posters displayed in store. It is the Customers responsibility to familiarise themselves with our return policy.
As part of our returns policy if an alternative item cannot be found we offer the opportunity for our Customers to take a credit voucher to be used at a later date, valid for 6 months to be redeemed at the store it was issued in.
The item in question can be returned, but for an exchange or credit note
Can they legally do this as we would not have purchased the chain had we been advised accordingly. Thanks


Legally “Circumstances when customers do not have
a legal right to a refund, repair or replacement

Customers do not have a legal right to a refund, repair or
replacement from you if they
• if they decide they no longer want the item (for example it’s
the wrong size or colour, or does not suit them).

You will rely on your assertion that the shop agreed to give a cash refund if it was not wanted.


Many retailers will offer refunds for goods provided that they are returned in an unused condition but this is not a legal requirement, as Malcolm says. One of the reasons that products are sold in tamper-proof packaging is to make it easy for the retailer to check that the goods are unused and no parts are missing.

The retailer can choose to offer a full refund, exchange or a credit note, and to specify the time during which this is permitted. With distance selling (online or phone orders) the customer has additional rights under the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2014, but that is not relevant in Lynne’s case.

If the goods are faulty when supplied, the customer has rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but this does not appear relevant in this case.

If Warren James have said that the goods can be exchanged this forms part of the contract, but without evidence this could be difficult to prove. One solution might be to get a couple of friends to go into the store, ask about a product and if it would be possible to obtain a refund if the recipient of a gift did not like it. That might provide the necessary evidence you need, Lynne. Best of luck.


Lynne might have asked if she could have a full refund if the chain was unsuitable. If the answer was yes but didn’t stipulate how the money would be refunded, then it is a very underhanded way of doing business.

You have to remember to ask if you can have a full refund in cash or refunded to your credit card to get an honest answer from too many stores.

A credit voucher being valid for only 6 months is another dishonest way of getting your money and possibly giving you nothing in return. 6 months can pass very quickly or there might be nothing else you want to purchase unless you end up with another unwanted item just to spend the voucher.


I agree. The conditions should be clearly specified in writing before the sale.