/ Sustainability

New right to repair rules: what do you think?

New rules to make household appliances more sustainable have been announced by the EU, but will they end up benefitting consumers?

As part of a continued effort to reduce Europe’s carbon footprint and to make energy bills cheaper for European consumers, new ‘right to repair’ rules have been announced.

From 2021, EU firms – and any UK firms wishing to sell to the EU market – will have to make products such as refrigerators, washing machines, dishwashers and televisions longer-lasting.

Under the new standards, manufacturers will have to supply spare parts for these household appliances for up to 10 years.

The manufacturers must ensure spare parts can be replaced with the use of commonly available tools, without permanent damage to the appliance.

But under the new rules, only professional repairers – not consumers – will be supported by manufacturers to carry out the repairs.

Should we all have the right to repair?

Are the repair rules good or bad?

There’s been a long-standing view that new products just don’t last as long as they used to, with built-in obsolescence a growing concern for many.

As a result, the call for white goods to last longer than a couple of years is one which will surely be welcome news to most consumers.

But what about those of us who want to save time and money by purchasing our own spare parts and mending our own goods?

The pace of change in the industry, which now includes many products which have intricately mixed and increasingly complex digital and physical components, means many owners are usually either unable to source the right parts or repair the machines themselves.

Replace vs repair

Finding a professional repairer to carry out the fix at a decent price is often difficult. This means many turn to a replacement rather than a repair.

And we all know getting a replacement after a short while is just as wasteful from an environmental standpoint as it is a waste of money.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that warranties and guarantees can sometimes be more generous than your statutory rights, and give you an extra option to resolve problems with a product.

Ultimately the move to improve the longevity of white goods could be positive, but the monopoly on who repairs is a concern – especially if it’s going to become impossible for consumers to perform what would have been simple fixes themselves.

With all that in mind, what do you make of the new rules? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Comments

Much has been said about right to repair but how do we make sure that parts are available at a sensible price, what will be achieved?

I presume if the right approach is made to requiring repairability there will be an attractive market for 3rd party suppliers.

This article from the Restart Project provides an example of a manufacturer that advertises that its products are repairable but that proved rather untruthful: https://therestartproject.org/news/diy-repair-story-manufacturers/

I see having parts available from third party suppliers as a bonus but all manufacturers should make parts available. I want to see parts freely available and not just restricted to their appointed agents.

As I and others have said in the past I want to see spare parts at sensible prices and repair manuals made available to everyone, not just professional repairers.

However, I wonder what the legal liability is for the manufacturer if anyone is injured when making a repair or making a faulty one? We can all buy spares for our cars – brake discs, pads, suspension and steering, and all the rest – whether we are qualified mechanics or not so I don’t see any reason why other spares should be denied to us.

Seeing as my big bosch machine is out of action at the moment I’ve decided to try and revive my old hoover twin tub as a stopgap measure, I can’t get far without clean clothes. And I’ve got lots of old parts for old hoover twin tubs in my attic but I haven’t got any thermostats, and of course they’re no longer made now for those old machines. But I’ve figured out how to make it work using a relay and a thermal switch, it means I won’t have a full range of temperatures, only 40 C, but that will do fine if I can get it to work. And I’ve got lots of the old heating elements for those old machines, and several motors, and some hoses and other bits. But it’s things like the old rubber seals which are a problem. There’s lots of different grommets still available but finding one that fits where I need it is a lot easier said than done and I’d have to buy lots of them. I need to find a good selection box of them somewhere for the right price. And I’m not using a launderette, NO chance! I’ve never used one in 30-odd years of living alone and I’m not starting now.

Sue Hind says:
7 January 2021

Miele Dishwasher – I bought 3yr 7mth ago a dishwasher which was over £1000 believing the hype that they are the most reliable quietest etc. Due to house build and restoration we forgot to put in place the warranty after 2 years and on Christmas Eve it stopped working F78. The technician who arrived in January was very helpful and to repair the machine we would require a new circulation pump and matching new circuit board – cost over £600 plus labour. I went back to Miele asking if they had had a recall as the plastic pump introduced 5 years ago now has an update needing a new circuit board and they said that there was nothing wrong with their equipment.
Repair or replace. We are going to take the Miele to the tip and would advise all to carefully consider whether they will invest in one as a long term investment. If we replaced the pump and circuit board there is no assurance that in 3 years time we will not be facing the same issue – as Miele have said that there is not a problem and they have not upgraded the part.
Am I annoyed – yes. We did our homework, the machine and company are highly rated.

A manufacturer can set what terms they like for their guarantee and you are not the only one who has been caught out by not registering in time. Not all manufacturers insist in prompt registration and I was able to register the extended guarantee after my Karcher pressure washer had failed.

You have statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act for up to six years and Which? has
useful information that will help you make a claim, Sue: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product The CRA takes precedence over a manufacturer’s guarantee, though the latter can offer additional benefits in some circumstances.

The company has already inspected the machine and if it has not claimed that you have misused or abused the machine I suggest you push for a free repair. If you need help you could subscribe to Which? Legal. You don’t have to be a Which? subscriber. Best of luck.

After six attempts to Miele I never managed to register what had been described as a five year guarantee on a Miele washing machine by John Lewis, but turned out to be a two year Miele guarantee plus three years D&G extended warranty. Thankfully the machine is still working.

Sue, you are unfortunate. I have had 2 Miele dishwashers that between them have so far lasted 23 years. However, their spares are expensive (I did buy a relatively inexpensive pump repair kit for the older one at year 12 and fitted it myself with instructions from Miele technical).

An expensive dishwasher should not fail under normal use (mine is in daily use) in 3 years 7 months. I’d suggest the claim you make is that your appliance has not proved “durable”, that is lasted a reasonable time given its use and price. “Durability” is a specific condition that forms part of your contract with whoever you bought the appliance from – presumably the retailer not direct from Miele?

This shows how reliable Miele dishwashers are and how yours, clearly, has lasted nowhere near long enough. https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/dishwashers/article/top-dishwasher-brands-az7Lo1Y4Odze

Maybe you could enlist the help of Which? Legal to put your case to the retailer and, if that fails, to Miele. None of us would want to see your dishwasher consigned to the skip for the sake of a repair.

Sue has been quoted £600 plus labour costs for a pump, Malcolm. They may have been inexpensive in the past but nowadays Miele spares are very expensive and often only available to their own agents.

When making a claim for poor durability the cost of goods is a factor in negotiating a claim for poor durability and Miele’s claim that their products are durable will help. I should have mentioned that unless Sue bought the dishwasher direct from Miele, the claim must be made against the retailer.

The Which? information about the lifetime of brands of dishwashers fails to take into account how much on average it has cost in repairs and there is no comment on why 40% of Miele machines were replaced before they are ten years old.

I did read all that Sue said, wavechange.

I doubt that the actual cost of the repair to Miele is £600. Many companies charge excessive prices for spares, a practice I hope will be dealt with when we get some real rights to repair. Incidentally, I have bought spares directly from Miele; maybe that policy has changed?

The article does not tell us why the machines were replaced before 10 years. From memory of these surveys they do ask why your old machine was replaced. Publishing a summary of this information would show more of the life profile with and without a repair and would greatly help in pursuing a claim, particularly of (lack of) durability. Nevertheless, the Miele replacements by 10 years, for whatever reason, are significantly less than all the other brands, which says something about their reliability. I therefore see a very strong case that shows, unless there has been abuse or misuse, Sue’s machine does not meet the durability test.

I am very concerned that we deal with those products that fail early. We have often seen people in Convos complaining their product failed just beyond warranty and were getting no redress. Both for individual’s financial reasons, and to promote more sustainability, we should be addressing this problem.

I hope Sue gets somewhere with her own problem.

According to Kenneth Watt who used to post here and is involved in both white goods repairs and parts supply, it’s difficult to get Miele parts and service information if you are not an agent. I used to be able to buy batteries for Apple laptops but Apple have stopped selling batteries to the public and supplying them to independent repair companies. I expect that the ‘Right to Repair’ initiative will force manufacturers to maintain a stock of spares for a reasonable length of time but wonder if they will be available at a sensible prices and to individuals.

As we have discussed before, it would help if all retailers would make information about our statutory rights available on their websites and perhaps as a leaflet with goods costing in excess of £100.

patrick taylor says:
7 January 2021

It would be wise to do an Internet check on F78 Miele and see the interesting stories that come up.

diynot.com/diy/threads/miele-g5720sc-dishwasher-fault-f78.408005/

There are the stories which helpfully mention the model number. On the face of it there are some problems and if the writers problem is similar then it adds to the ability to point to a manufacturing problem.

I have mentioned in the past thet for consumers information is power and logging faults centrally and then passing them to the manufacturer and /or retailer would provide a much better view on reliability and/ or model design faults.

All it needs is a form for completion, entry to a databse and forwarding to the correct destination. A well-established famous name charity might just be able to make this run. An annual report based on this database, and with details of results would be an immense benefit to consumers.

In the Netherlands they do have a central posting system where consumers and manufacturers [some] can interact in public. Extracring data may be possible. India for decades has had a searchable database of all cases in front of or dealt with by its system of consumer courts. Set up very early in the life of the country as it was reckoned that businesses would take advantage of the consumers unversed in law. Curiously India is reckoned to be a difficult country for business. !!

patrick taylor says:
7 January 2021

Incidentally I have a tumble dryer and a dishwasher both made by Miele and both trouble free in over a decade. So it is interesting for me to see the faults brought up by a search. And even more sure that consumers should aggregate their experiences so rogue products are quickly identified and owners are not fobbed off.

Which? hopefully has moved past being soft on businesses and will see it’s role as providing statistical force to the consumer law grievances.

It’s worth having a look at Miele on Trustpilot, Patrick. As with many companies there is a mixture of happy and unhappy customers. The main problems seem to be poor customer service and the cost of repairs. I don’t think anyone doubts that their products are well made but a proportion of well made products fail prematurely.

The best source of information about premature failure of white goods is field service engineers who go into people’s homes to carry out repairs. They know which parts fail in different makes and models and may have an understanding of the extent to which misuse and lack of maintenance are factors. The previous owners of my home were going to remove a faulty Bosch dishwasher that was around 11 years old but I asked them to leave it in case I could get it repaired. It did not take long to descale the spray arms and it will soon have lasted an extra five years.

Philip says:
14 January 2021

I have about twenty Miele appliances ranging from 5 to 12 years old and they are undoubtedly reliable, but not necessarily everlasting. Two have failed out of warranty. When a steam over failed recently, Miele offered me an engineer visit for £100+ plus the cost of any parts and extra time over the first hour or I could have a fixed fee repair for (IIRC) £299 that would cover absolutely any repair plus it would give me a year’s warranty on the machine. When a tumble dryer played up a year or so ago, they same offer was in place then, too. So I am puzzled as to why this fixed-price offer was not made in Sue’s case.

The fixed fee repair charges are explained on the Miele website, Philip: https://www.miele.co.uk/c/repair-26.htm The system for arranging a fixed fee repair is different, which could be why Sue did not receive the offer. Maybe she will say.

Miele service repairs and parts are expensive. But so can other manufacturers be. This is why I want “durability” to be developed as a claim, one of the contract conditions that retailers must meet under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. So that when you buy an expensive appliance and you are unfortunate enough to suffer an unreasonably early failure you do not face a huge repair bill. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility if a product fails early unless the product can be shown to have been misused or abused; something under their control – a part, build quality, design flaw maybe – has likely caused the problem.

Some argue this is too difficult to do. Well, we have accumulated lots of data from consumers as to how long appliances are found to last; Which? publish this. I assume other bodies do as well. So it should not be hard to demonstrate when a product from a particular manufacturer has failed much too soon. When that does happen it should not be the customer who suffers.

An alternative that would be easier would be for manufacturers to offer their own long warranties that are realistically priced. The reliable manufacturers would no doubt be able to offer longer and/or cheaper ones of they make high quality products. Consumers could then make better informed buying decisions.

The Consumer Rights Act limits claims to a maximum of six years and I hope that most people expect white goods to last considerably longer. Some of us have encouraged our friends to claim for products that have failed outside the guarantee period and of course there has been much. advice about this on these pages.

Most people are happy to claim under a guarantee or warranty but since making a claim under the CRA requires negotiation that discourages them from making a claim. I have advocated a minimum manufacturer’s guarantee on white goods, TVs and other expensive purchases, which should protect consumers from unexpected costs during the guarantee period as long as they have not misused their products.

If I had Miele product fail within six years of purchase I would make use of their ‘tested to last the equivalent of up to 20 years of use’ claim to support my CRA claim.

Bee Cox says:
14 January 2021

Having paid £140 for a Dualit kettle 2.5 years ago, which broke last week, I am very interested in this.

Dualit have offered a repair at a cost of £70 plus shipping, which seems completely unreasonable to me.

I’d buy a new different kettle.

There are many best buys here under your repair cost: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/kettles/article/recommendations/which-best-buy-kettles.

Before you do, depending on what broke and how, you could suggest to Dualit that you would expect a £140 kettle to last longer than 2.5 years and see if you get a goodwill gesture.

Hi Bee – Unless you bought the kettle from Dualit it would be best to make use of your statutory rights against the retailer under the Consumer Rights Act which give protection for up to six years. Which? has
useful information that will help you make a claim: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product I suggest you claim for poor durability and ask for a free repair. If the kettle cannot be repaired (which seems unlikely) you might have to accept a partial refund that takes into account the time you have owned the kettle. The retailer may try to get you to contact Dualit, in which case they will need reminded that it is their own responsibility to deal with the problem.

The price you paid suggests you may have a kettle from the Dualit Classic range, which is advertised as having a replaceable element:
“Patented Repairable Element
This Dualit Classic Kettle is truly built to last. Fitted with a revolutionary patented replaceable element, the lifetime of your kettle is greatly extended.” That’s. not much help if a repair costs more than half the price of the kettle.