Know the difference between guarantees and warranties

April 17, 2015

When you discover a fault with a product you have bought, for example an electrical appliance or a piece of furniture remember that you have legal rights as a consumer to get redress from the seller of the goods.  However, it is good to know where you stand if you also have a guarantee from the manufacturer or if you took out a warranty at the time of purchase. Remember, you still have rights under consumer law even if you don’t have a guarantee or a warranty.

What is a guarantee?

A guarantee is an agreement from the manufacturer saying that they will repair or replace an item you bought if something goes wrong for a period of time after you bought it. Remember, you still have rights under consumer law if you don’t have a guarantee however your consumer rights are the responsibility of the seller of the goods not the manufacturer. A guarantee is there to give you additional protection and strengthens your consumer rights to a repair, replacement or refund. Guarantees can also apply to services, for example, installation and repair services in your home can have a guarantee.

What to look out for:

  • Always check the terms and conditions of the guarantee and make sure to read the small print. For example, you may find that you need to register the guarantee with the manufacturer for certain conditions to be met or it may explain what happens if you give or sell the item to somebody else during the guarantee period.
  • Find out exactly what is covered by the guarantee. For instance with electrical goods, are all parts or just specific parts covered?
  • If you cannot get a satisfactory response from the retailer and you urgently need the product you bought to be fixed it may be worthwhile using your guarantee.

What is a Warranty?

A shop may ask if you’d like to take out a warranty when you are buying a product from them. It is similar to an insurance policy and normally protects you from having to pay for repairs if the item you bought breaks or becomes faulty within the period covered by the warranty. It is important to know that a warranty is completely optional.  If you are buying a product that you’re going to have for a long period of time it may be easier to get satisfaction by having a warranty. However, you should always factor in the total cost of the warranty before you buy.

What to look out for:

  1.   Check if it would be cheaper to replace the item yourself rather than paying out for a warranty, which can be expensive. If you do decide to take out a warranty make sure you understand what the costs and benefits are. For instance, does the warranty cover parts only, is the cost of labour included, will you be offered a replacement while the faulty item is being repaired?
  2. Don’t feel pressured into buying a warranty. Remember, you always have your statutory rights there to protect you if something goes wrong.
  3. Find out how you go about claiming under the warranty. For instance, who do you contact and do you need to report the issue within a certain period of time.
  4. If you are buying the item in a different country to the one where you might need servicing, find out if the warranty is still valid in that country.
  5. Check to see if the item could already be covered under your home insurance policy.
Return to News

Haven’t found what you’re looking for?