We answer a reader's query and explain the differences between retailers and manufacturers, warranties and guarantees and statutory law
A technician telephoned and confirmed what I had expected: that even if it was repairable, the fee would be more than the printer cost originally.
I was also told that the company’s guarantee was only for 30 days and the full one-year guarantee was with Epson and that I should contact them.
This was a surprise as I’ve read many times in Computeractive that whoever supplied a product that then proved to be faulty during the warranty period should deal with the claim.
Mr Tilbury believed he didn’t have a claim because the warranty period had expired, but he wanted clarification from us about who to approach.
We are happy to do this because, like many people, he is getting warranties and guarantees offered by retailers and manufacturers mixed up with his rights under statutory law.
Retailers and manufacturers can limit guarantees and warranties (the terms are interchangeable and have no specific meaning) in any way they want, although any promises must be honoured.
These warranties are offered as a symbol that the company has faith in its product. Perceived as ‘free’, warranties are accounted for in the product price. But the terms of a warranty do not override statutory consumer law.
For faulty goods, the buyer has protection under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, and the amendment, the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. If using this protection then Mr Tilbury is right; the buyer approaches the retailer, because their contract is with the retailer, not the manufacturer.
Sometimes the manufacturer is the retailer as well, but in most cases they are separate. A retailer may direct the buyer to the manufacturer to get a product fixed.
This can be a quicker way to get a repair but the customer does not have to take this route and can force the retailer to accept the goods for repair. If, as in Mr Tilbury’s case it is not economically viable or possible to repair the goods, the retailer has to offer either a replacement or a pro-rata refund. However, the fault must be inherent (present at the time of manufacture).
Mr Tilbury has up to six years (five years in Scotland) to seek redress. He would, however, have to prove that the fault is not due to fair wear and tear or accidental damage.
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