Warranties are a minefield but Mr Mays' best course of action for a more generous settlement may have been to seek redress under the Sale of Goods Act
I bought a Seasonic power supply from Scan for £110 in June 2010. Following a period of instability and intermittent problems with the computer, the power supply failed this August.
The Seasonic website offers a five-year warranty for this device and Scan for two years. I thought that since it was within both warranty periods a replacement would be straightforward but found that this particular power supply is no longer available.
I opted for another, which cost me £89.70. However Scan would only give me a refund of £68.60, including £15.10 return postage.
Taking off the £15 refund for return postage, at £53.60 Mr Mays received just under half the amount of the price he’d paid for the power supply 14 months earlier. He applied for redress from Scan using the retailer’s two-year warranty.
These warranties are legally binding if offered, but the retailer or manufacturer can set the terms and length. Seasonic may offer a longer term than Scan because it may believe that the device should last at least this long. Scan does not have to.
Therefore if someone applies for redress, it can offer what it believes is a fair pro-rata refund under the two-year warranty if it can’t replace or repair an item. Unless the warranty states it will refund original and return delivery costs, Scan is not legally obliged to do this.
If Mr Mays had applied to Seasonic under its warranty he may have been given a more generous pro-rata refund but that would be its decision. These warranties do not override statutory consumer laws such as the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SoG).
Mr Mays could have applied for redress from Scan using the SoG. He would have to prove the fault with the power supply was inherent and not fair wear and tear or accidental damage.
Since Scan couldn’t repair or give an exact replacement, or one that was acceptable to Mr Mays, he is entitled to a refund. But again the amount would be pro rata.
The crux of the matter is whether Scan is legally obliged to offer him more. The law states the customer has up to six years (five in Scotland) in which to make a claim, but this doesn’t mean a device will be expected to last this long.
If he found the offer from Scan unfair, the only way he could seek to overturn this is through the courts.
We contacted Scan and the company told us it always tried to settle problems amicably: “We offered Mr Mays alternatives, which he rejected, so the only thing to do was offer a refund. We felt the price was fair. We gave him £53.60 for the device, refunded the £15 return postage costs and also gave him free postage for the replacement he wanted, which came to £9.20.”
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