/ Money

Legal advice: leaky radiator leads to damages claim

A leaky radiator ended up costing Erica £300. Fortunately, we were able to intervene – here’s how to claim damages caused by a defective product.

Which? Legal member Erica was left out of pocket  after buying a faulty radiator. Erica bought the radiator from Designer Radiators Direct in January.

After some delay, it was installed six months later. Soon afterwards Erica discovered water was pooling under one of the radiator’s columns.

Manufacturing defect

The leak was caused by a manufacturing defect, meaning the radiator needed to be replaced. Erica was told it was her responsibility to pay for a plumber to install the new radiator, at a cost of more than £300.

After Erica reminded Designer Radiators Direct of its legal responsibilities, it agreed to reimburse her costs and also to replace the unit.

We advised Erica that, under the terms of the Consumer Rights Act, she was entitled to expect the product to be of a satisfactory quality and was within her rights to request a replacement radiator at the point of discovering the leak.

We also told Erica about her right to claim damages for the financial loss she suffered as a direct result of being sold a faulty radiator – in this instance the £300 paid to the plumber.

We advised Erica to argue this loss was suffered as a result of Designer Radiators Direct breaching its contract. We approached Designer Radiators Direct for comment but the company declined to reply.

Faulty product rights

Under the Consumer Rights Act, buyers are entitled to have faulty products repaired or replaced – but this doesn’t limit their right to also claim damages.

This means if you buy a faulty product that results in you making a financial loss, the seller could be liable.

These losses must be foreseeable and caused as a result of the breach of contract.

Have you ever bought a faulty product then been  refused a refund?

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This reminds me of a post in a recent conversation where someone bought a bed from JLP that needed assembly and paid a separate £29.99 for JLP to do this. The bed broke but JLP refused to refund the assembly charge, only the bed cost. Some of us advised that under CRA JLP were liable to refund both charges. I wonder if that happened? It would be good if these examples were followed up.

I am surprised by the charge of £300 for swapping a radiator since modern radiators can usually be removed and replaced without draining the system. Maybe the company deserves to foot the bill for turning down Erica’s claim, but isn’t there a requirement for the customer to minimise costs?

I look forward to Which? producing a magazine supplement about consumer rights.

I am intrigued by the plumbing shown in the picture at the top of this Conversation. I have not seen that type of fitting before in the UK. I presume it is there to avoid installing a tee joint inside the wall. The wall plate seems a rather crude affair as well. Stock photo I presume.

It is a stock photo, John: https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/the-heating-radiator-is-leaking-gm1093672402-293506818?

Radiators with an inlet and outlet at the same end are neat and quite common. There is an internal pipe to prevent the hot water entering and leaving without heating the radiator.

The TinEye website is useful to find out the source of images and where they have been used online. That can be useful when exploring dodgy adverts.

Indeed a stock photo I found that got across both the radiator and the leak aspect – nothing to be read into it. Also I’m obviously no plumbing/heating expert so more than happy to change it if people feel strongly!

There’s nothing wrong with it, George. I checked to confirm what John said about it being a stock photo.