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What cover do I get on electronics purchases in the UK?

For many years now I’ve been under the impression that any electronic item I purchased within the UK is covered by an automatic 1-year warranty regardless of whether or not I filled in those little cards you find in the box that your purchase came in. However, whenever a device has developed a fault within a year and I’ve reported it, I’ve been informed that it is not covered.

So what are my rights? After a lot of searching online it appears that there is no clear answer. In 2015 the Sales of Goods Act was replaced by the Consumer Rights Act 2015. After a quick read of this lengthy legislation I can find no reference to electronics, only goods in general.

Combined with Citizens Advice and various other consumer rights websites I learned the following:

  • That within the first 14-days you can cancel an order if you change your mind. Regardless of whether the item has a fault or not
  • Within the first 30-days you can contact the seller for a repair, replacement or refund if the goods are not as described or at the expected level of quality or are faulty
  • Within the first 6-months you can contact the seller for a repair, replacement or refund if the goods have developed a fault through no fault of your own
  • Within 6-years you can contact the seller or manufacturer for a repair, replacement or (usually partial) refund if the goods were expensive or listed as superior quality (using words such as premium version etc.) and were expected to last this long regardless of whether you have an extended warranty or not. You may however have to go to the small claims court if you are not satisfied with the response.

There does not appear to be any rule around a 1-year (12-months) warranty on electronic / electrical goods. So where does this confusion comes from?

It appears to come from the manufacturers themselves in that they generally offer a 1 or 2 year warranty/guarantee on their goods. This warranty is good advertising because they are saying that they are so confident that their product will perform as expected without issue within this period that if it does not, that they will repair or replace it for you free of charge. Note that this is within their standard warranty period and not an extended warranty / guarantee as that is entirely different and not covered by this article.

In order for you to opt-in to the manufacturers warranty you have to follow their stated process, which is either keeping your proof of purchase or filling in their warranty card if included or online. Note that the manufacturer also gets access to your contact details, which they can use for marketing purposes unless you have been able to opt out of this.

The wording of the warranty will usually say something along the lines of “your statutory rights remain unaffected”. This means that the manufacturers warranty does not replace your rights as stated within the Consumer Rights Act of 2015.

It’s also worth nothing that some sellers offer their own warrantys that extend those of the manufacturer for free. For example if buying an expensive TV a manufacturer may offer 2-years warranty but the seller may offer 5-years as they are confident that you will have no problems with the TV. This may guarantee them more sales over competitors. These free longer warrantys are usually only offered by big stores that can afford any losses or have good deals with the manufacturers in return for higher sales.

In summary: You are not automatically guaranteed a 1-year warranty on electrical goods within the UK. You should check for any faults within 30-days and request a refund or replacement if a fault is found. If the item is a present ask the seller or shop if they offer an extended returns period (i.e. around Christmas). Where the manufacturer includes a warranty you should activate it to augment your protection above that provided by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

If you have any issues, suggestions or feedback for this article please email me.

Dave

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Last updated: 22nd August 2021

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