When you buy an expensive new product, such as a fridge, a washing machine or a computer, there’s always the worry that it will stop working and that you’ll have to replace or repair it.
You will often be offered a document called a guarantee or a warranty, which will protect you if this happens. However, if you’re asked to pay extra for this, there are several things you should consider before agreeing.
A guarantee is usually included for free with the product you’re buying. It’s a promise from the trader or manufacturer that they’ll repair or replace the item, or give you a refund, if it becomes faulty within a certain amount of time.
Although the guarantee is free, you may need to register it within 28 days of buying the item.
It isn’t just electrical items that come with guarantees – you might also be offered a guarantee for a service such as work you’ve had done in your house. If you’re offered a long-term guarantee for this type of work, find out whether it needs to be backed up by insurance as otherwise it could be worth nothing.
A warranty is a term of a contract between you and the trader or manufacturer. This gives the seller or manufacturer a responsibility to repair or replace the product if it is damaged or faulty.
It's sometimes known as an 'extended warranty' and will usually cost you money and last for a specified length of time.
Take your time to find out what the warranty covers, as you might already be protected for the same thing by a manufacturer’s guarantee or by an existing insurance policy, for example, your home contents insurance.
Make sure you’re aware of how the law protects you, too. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, products must be of ‘satisfactory quality’, ‘fit for purpose’ and ‘as described’, as well as lasting for a ‘reasonable’ amount of time.
It’s assumed that if a product breaks within 6 months, it was faulty to start with. However, after 6 months, if you don’t have a warranty or guarantee, you might need to show proof that the product was faulty to start with.
Find out how much it would cost to repair your item if it broke, as sometimes it might only be the same cost as paying for a warranty.
Don’t feel pressured into buying a warranty on the spot – you have 30 days to buy one after buying the product, and you can get a warranty from another company.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated warranties and was concerned that consumers weren’t getting value for money, so shop around if you decide you need one. The company you bought the product from has to give you a written price for a warranty if you ask for one.
With shop bought warranties, by law, you can get a refund up to 45 days after your purchased it, unless you've made a claim. With standalone policies cancellation terms differ so make sure you check the small print.
You should always read the terms, including the small print, of any guarantee or warranty you’re offered. Each one is different so you should make sure you’re aware of what exactly it covers before you sign up to it.
Sometimes free guarantees are referred to as warranties, so always check what you’re being offered.