AA Legal Documents
Law guide

Appliances

Contents

If you buy electrical goods, such as a toaster, washing machine, microwave, or television, they must be:

  • of satisfactory quality;
  • fit for their purpose; and
  • as described.
You can find out more about your rights in the section Introduction to your legal rights.

When an item is faulty

Before use

When you buy an appliance that was faulty before you used it, you should be entitled to a full or partial refund unless you had a reasonable opportunity to examine the appliance when buying it and the fault was so obvious that you should have noticed it.

Whether you're entitled to a full refund depends on whether you've 'accepted' the appliance.

The Sale of Goods Act states that you have a 'reasonable time' to examine goods after buying them before they're regarded as being 'accepted' by you. It doesn't specifically state how long a 'reasonable time' is; it depends on factors such as how often you use the goods, the type of fault (e.g. whether it is obvious or not) and whether you've continued to use the goods despite knowing they're faulty.

If you've accepted the appliance, you may be entitled to a repair or replacement. The seller is entitled to refuse either of these if the cost of doing so would be excessive in comparison to the alternative. Whatever solution is agreed, it shouldn't result in undue inconvenience to you.

After minimal use

If you only used the appliance a few times before a fault arose, you may be entitled to a refund (assuming that you didn't have a reasonable opportunity to examine the appliance when buying it and the fault wasn't so obvious that you should have noticed it). However, you'll only be entitled to a refund if the goods haven't been accepted (see above).

Alternatively, you may request that the appliance be repaired or replaced. If the fault is only minor and can easily be put right, it's reasonable to accept a repair. This repair should be done to a satisfactory standard at no additional cost to you. If the repair isn't carried out to a satisfactory standard, you're entitled to seek a refund.

In the first 6 months from the date of purchase, when you return the appliance to request a repair or replacement, you don't have to prove that it was faulty at the time of sale. There is an assumption that the appliance was faulty unless the seller can prove otherwise. If you're asking for a refund rather than a repair or replacement, the onus will be on you to prove that the appliance was faulty at the time of sale.

After frequent use

If you've used the appliance more than a few times or had a reasonable opportunity to check it, you might not qualify for a refund, but you may be still entitled to a repair or replacement. A repair should be carried out within a reasonable period of time and without causing you significant inconvenience. Any repair should restore goods to a satisfactory condition. If the appliance isn't restored to a satisfactory condition, you should be entitled to a partial refund. (It will be less than the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the appliance.)

If the appliance can't be replaced or repaired

If the appliance can't be replaced or repaired economically, you're entitled to a refund. The seller can make a reduction from the price you paid to allow for the use you've had from the appliance.

If the fault caused additional expense

If the appliance has damaged anything else or you're out of pocket in any other way, you may be entitled to compensation over and above the price of the appliance.

Important points to bear in mind

  • If you're entitled to a refund, replacement, repair or compensation, it's the seller who must sort out your problem. The seller can't tell you to go back to the manufacturer.
  • If you bought on credit, you may be able to claim against the finance company.
  • You have 14 calendar days to cancel a contract for goods ordered by telephone, mail order, internet or fax, except for goods that are made to order.
  • All electrical goods need to be used and looked after in line with any instructions.
  • Fair wear and tear isn't a fault.
If things go wrong

If there is a problem with the electrical goods you've bought, you should do the following:

  • If you can, stop using the goods at once.
  • Check there really is a fault - read the instructions carefully.
  • Be sure that the fault wasn't caused by misuse, an accident or by not following the instructions.
  • If you can, collect any instructions, leaflets, packaging etc. that came with the goods. Pack them all up with the goods.
  • Find your proof of purchase. If you haven't got a receipt, you can use a credit card voucher or cheque stub. Own-brand goods, something exclusive to one shop (like a customised carrier bag) or the packaging may prove where you bought the item. If someone was with you when you bought it, they can back you up. Remember, it's up to you to show where and when you bought the goods.
  • You now need to contact the seller straight away and report the problem. Take the item, the packaging (if possible) and any proof of purchase with you. If you can't take the goods back to the shop, either phone or write to the seller.
Gas appliances

In addition, you should bear in the mind the following considerations in relation to gas appliances:

  • All gas appliances need to be used and looked after in line with any instructions.
  • Gas leaks should be reported immediately to National Grid.
  • For safety reasons, all gas appliances must be fitted by a registered GasSafe installer.
It's against the law for anyone to use a gas appliance that they think may be unsafe.