What is a warranty or guarantee?

Many of us and many retailers and manufacturers often use the name guarantee and warranty interchangeably. However, there are differences.

  • Guarantees are usually free and offered by the manufacturer. They are an assurance regarding quality / lifespan with a promise to repair or replace if the product doesn’t live up to billing. Often, companies require you to fill out a registration card to validate the guarantee.
  • Warranties are akin to an insurance policy and are often not free. Warranties may last longer than guarantees and may offer wider protection.

If you have or are thinking of getting a manufacturer guarantee or warranty, always read up on what it covers – especially if you are paying money for it, as it may only cover part of the item.

As a manufacturer warranty or guarantee claim will be a contractual claim, you need to be clear about what it will and won’t cover.

Do I have to register my warranty or guarantee?

Usually a warranty or guarantee requires you to fill in a registration card and send it back to the manufacturer to validate the guarantee.

If you haven’t registered your guarantee, the manufacturer or retailer may say the guarantee isn’t valid - always check the terms and conditions.

It's always a good idea to register you're product so that the manufacturer can easily contact you if there's a safety alert or product recall.

Do I have rights in addition to a warranty or guarantee?

You have rights under the Consumer Rights Act, which run parallel to any terms in your warranty or guarantee. Often warranties can be more generous, but they do sometimes have exclusions and many run out after one year while your statutory rights persist.

Warranty claims usually require you to show evidence of the fault as well, whereas your rights don’t require this for the first six months. So, remember that if you're having trouble, you also have the option of a Consumer Rights Act claim.

When to use a warranty 

The route you decide on to get your money back will depend on when you found the fault.

Within the first six months

In the first six months after taking ownership of the product, it will usually be easier to claim using your rights under the Consumer Rights Act.

If you’d like to exercise your rights, we can help you start your faulty goods claim for a refund, repair or replacement. We can help you exercise your consumer rights and start your complaint for free.

After the first six months

After the first six months, the burden of proof switches to you under the Consumer Rights Act.

After this time, it will be down to you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase, whether you claim through your warranty or exercise your rights.

So, after this time, you might prefer to claim on your warranty if that’s easier for you.

Usually you’ll usually need proof of purchase, details of the problem and a photocopy of the warranty or guarantee to make a claim.

Can I still claim if my warranty has run out?

If your warranty runs out after a year and your product develops a fault, you still have consumer rights and can make a faulty goods claim.

As it’s down to you to prove the fault was present at the time of purchase after the first six months, you may require some form of expert report, opinion or evidence of similar problems across the product range.

The retailer can also make a deduction from any refund for fair use after the first six months of ownership if an attempt at a repair or replacement is unsuccessful.

You have up to six years to take a claim to the small claims court for faulty goods in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and five years in Scotland.

Can I claim with the manufacturer or the retailer?

If your product develops a fault, your rights to make a claim and get your money back lie with the retailer who you purchased the product from.

Don’t be fobbed off by retailers who encourage you to go to manufacturers in the first six months. Remember, it’s down to you – you have the right to pursue a faulty goods claim with the retailer rather than a warranty or guarantee claim with the manufacturer.

If you want to make a claim using your manufacturer guarantee or warranty, your route to claiming would be to your warranty provider, who is often the manufacturer.

What if the manufacturer says I can't have a repair?

There are many reasons why you might not be eligible for a manufacturer guarantee or warranty repair. For example, if your warranty excludes fixing the part of your product that is faulty.

If your manufacturer warranty or guarantee claim is unsuccessful you can turn to your consumer rights to make a claim.

The Consumer Rights Act gives you rights to make a claim for faulty goods for up to six years. So, if the manufacturer says you’re not eligible for a warranty repair, remember you still have rights to exercise.

Your rights under the Consumer Rights Act are against the retailer – the company that sold you the product – not the manufacturer, so you must take any claim to the retailer.

Start your faulty goods claim for a refund, repair or replacement today. Which? can help you exercise your consumer rights and start your complaint for free.

It was a present, can I still make a claim?

If a product you received as a gift is faulty or subject to a product safety recall, you can still claim.

The easiest route to getting your money back in either case will be to get proof of purchase from the person who bought your gift, if this is possible. 

If you’re not able to get proof of purchase and the person paid for the product using cash, it may be easier to go directly to the manufacturer.

The manufacturer should not require any proof of purchase if the product is subject to a safety recall. If you have the item your possession, that should be enough, and the manufacturer should arrange to retrieve, replace or fix the product.

If the product is faulty but not subject to a recall, the manufacturer may need proof of purchase or serial number identification.

See our guide to return an unwanted gift.

Is an extended warranty worth it?

Extended warranties for which you pay are rarely necessary, as you have rights which last up to five years in Scotland and up to six years in the rest of the UK.

Challenging unfair terms

If you have an extended warranty but don’t understand something in it you may also have extra rights.

If the extended warranty document makes it look very difficult for you to claim, or the wording is particularly tricky to understand this could be regarded as an ‘unfair term’.

Read our guide for more information on how you can complain about unfair terms.

Cancelling your extended warranty

If you want to cancel your extended warranty, you get an automatic 14-day right under the Consumer Contracts Regulations to cancel the warranty and get a refund if you signed up for the extended warranty on the phone or online.

You’re also allowed to change your mind and get a refund within the first 45 days you took out the extended warranty for electrical goods for at least 12 months or you bought the warranty at the same time you purchased the goods.

See our guide to cancel an extended warranty

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