/ Shopping

The confusion around faulty goods

Robot toy

There’s still confusion over your legal rights when returning faulty goods, so we’ve built a handy tool that will create a bespoke claim for your refund, repair or replacement.

If you bought a product from a high street store and it developed a fault after just three months, who would you contact to return it? Nearly nine in ten people in our survey said they’d prefer to return it to the store, rather than the manufacturer.

Most people said they’d go to the retailer because they’d find it easier than returning the item to the manufacturer. But only a fifth of them knew it was their legal right to return the product to the retailer.

A quarter were unaware of how long they had to demand a full refund if an electrical appliance turns out to be faulty the first time they use it. You have 30 days under the Consumer Rights Act.

So to help with all this confusion, we’ve built a free faulty goods tool that anyone can use to create a bespoke letter of complaint to claim a refund, repair or replacement.

Rights outside of warranty

Nearly four in ten people said that if an electrical appliance develops a fault outside it’s one year manufacturer’s guarantee, they wouldn’t have any legal rights. You do, but after owning something for six months, the burden of proof flips. The retailer no longer needs to prove that you caused the fault. It’s now up to us, the customer, to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase. Only a fifth of people in our survey were aware they had to do this.

And getting proof of this is easier said than done. In the past you’d nip down to your local repair shop and get the opinion of an expert to prove your claim.

I’ve had a look and I’ve asked friends and family – none of us can find a local repair shop. Maybe there was a grievously under-reported mass emigration of local repair men? Maybe the relentless advance of technology means products are obsolete as soon as they’re faulty? Then again, modern technology can be helpful as you could build evidence from reports others have made online about the same product.

I’d be interested to hear how you’ve put together proof in the past when you’ve had a faulty product. Did you get an independent report from an expert? Or did you take a different tack?

I hope our new faulty goods tool is useful – let us know if you’ve achieved success with it. And fingers crossed you won’t have to use it!

kevin williams says:
7 March 2017

Hi, I have a faulty television which I bought from currys online the manufacturers have given me an uplift code to replace the tv, but currys now have decided to stop selling the tv . the tv isa current model and is available else where and currys have offered me to exchange the product but no longer do a tv with the same specification and size . are they obliged by law to offer me a full refund ?


I suggest before looking at the legal situation you might persuade Currys to offer a little goodwill, especially since the model is still current. Some years ago, Comet wanted to pay extra because my fridge had been replaced by a more expensive model. They agreed after a brief discussion. I payed the full amount and received a refund of the difference in price. The receipt was marked to show the ‘manager’s discount’.


If the fault was reported within the first 30 days then you are entitled to a refund. If it is after that then the Consumer Rights Act gives you the choice of a repair or a replacement – unless one is disproportionately expensive compared to the other, as I read it. So I suppose technically the seller could say a repair is significantly cheaper and dig in their heels. However they have already offered to exchange the product, which is good. They can offer you an alternative “equivalent” product if the original is no longer available, but cannot force you to accept; equally it seems you cannot force them to offer an alternative.

As wavechange says, I would therefore negotiate with Currys. If you can agree an alternative, that would be ideal. If the same tv is made I do not see why Currys cannot do what the manufacturer has proposed and obtain the identical model for you from them.

Guidance that is relevant is given in BIS Guidance Sept 15 part of which I reproduce below:
What counts as a replacement?
Generally, the replacement goods should be the same as the goods that are being replaced except that they must meet the requirements that the original goods should have met (see the introductory section of ‘Goods: If Things Go Wrong’, above, for information on when these remedies are applicable, plus the ‘Goods: What the Consumer Can Expect’ section of this guidance for details of these).
The extent to which a replacement must be identical will depend on the goods. For mass produced goods, a replacement should be the same make and model, which will generally mean it should be identical. For other types of goods a replacement would be the same item but would not need to be precisely identical (for example a replacement for a wooden coffee table would need to be the same size, model and type of wood, but the pattern of the wood grain would not need to be identical).
Where you are unable to provide the same goods as a replacement, nothing prevents you from offering an alternative, but you cannot force the consumer to accept. Similarly the consumer cannot force you to offer an alternative.
FAQ 20 Am I allowed to offer non-identical goods as a replacement? You cannot force the consumer to accept an alternative to a straight replacement; but equally, the consumer cannot force you to offer an alternative. However, you and the consumer could, of course, agree that non-identical goods are acceptable as a replacement when the consumer comes to you for a replacement.”

Carl says:
12 March 2017

Can you help have a problem with my underfloor heating 10 year warranty with company but they’re blaming installation team and won’t make good any area that needs removing to gain access. Installing team guarantees work for 10years also. Both not taking ownership


Your contract is with the company that you paid, Carl. The terms and conditions will be set out in the warranty. If the heating is less than six years old (five in Scotland) then you also have rights under the Consumer Rights Act.


It matters not the the company you have the initial contract with sub-contracts you didn’t make a contract with the sub-contractors only with,as Wavechange says the company you paid .They legally cant deny liability just because they made the decision to sub-contract otherwise every company in Britain who use a delivery company could say-sorry take it up with the delivery company . I am sick to the teeth with this kind of NON-legal excuse being made and people wonder why I don’t defend all businesses . Has the Contract Law of England been scrapped or made null and void ? For those making excuses – have none of you read the Laws of Contract ? I have -cover to cover.

Frank.vecchio says:
14 March 2017

Amp was purchased on line as a refurbished item it is over 8 months old and has developed a fault can i demand a refund


It depends on the terms+conditions Frank and who you bought it from . Good UK companies guarantee for 12 months but NO extended guarantee and you must deal with the exact shop you bought it from. I used to repair and build audio amps for decades ,whats the fault ? Give me the model+ make and I will see if I can dig up a circuit diagram to look at.