Guarantees and warranties
For consumers, a guarantee and a warranty are the same. 'Guarantee' is used to describe both in the information on this page. A guarantee is a promise to fix, free of charge, any faults which might arise within a certain period. A written guarantee is better than one given verbally.
The company or person who gives the guarantee is the 'guarantor'. A guarantee given free with a product must be:
- written in plain language
- in English if offered in Northern Ireland
- clear about how to claim under the guarantee
When you buy goods or services, you and the guarantor make a contract. If the guarantor refuses to honour the guarantee you may be able to take legal action.
Consumer rights or rights under a guarantee
A guarantee gives you added protection when you buy good or services but it does not replace your consumer rights. You are entitled to raise a problem about a product for up to six years from the date of buying it regardless of the terms of any guarantee.
You can rely on the remedies available to you under law rather than your rights under a guarantee. This means that if you complain about an item that is not fit for purpose, does not match the description, or is not of satisfactory quality, the trader must deal with it. They cannot force you to use the guarantee.
A shop might offer to sell you an extended guarantee for several years. Make sure you know the cover you’re paying for. Some guarantees don’t cover damage caused by normal wear and tear. Extended guarantees are usually more expensive than the cost of likely repairs over the extended period.
Don't be pressured by salespeople to buy an extended guarantee. Take time before buying. You can always buy an extended guarantee later.
Extended guarantee for home electrical goods
The law says that shops selling electrical goods, such as washing machines or freezers which also sell extended guarantees, must give customers information about extended guarantees. If you buy an extended guarantee, you have some cancellation and termination rights.
Online, shop and catalogue suppliers of home electrical goods which also sell extended guarantees must:
- show the price and length of at least one applicable extended guarantee in clear, legible text beside the price of the goods
- make clear that paying for an extended guarantee is optional
On websites, in directories, catalogues and in shops they must tell you:
- your statutory rights about the buying of home electrical goods and where you can get information on this
- extended guarantees are available elsewhere
- your household insurance may cover what you’re buying
- any cancellation and termination rights
- the financial protection you have if the provider of the extended guarantee goes out of business
- information on financial protection of the extended guarantee
- whether the extended guarantee will stop if a claim is made
If the guarantee costs over £20.00 (including VAT) in store you can get a written price quotation. You have at least 30 days to accept or reject. The quotation must state clearly:
- extended guarantees may be available elsewhere
- you don’t need to buy the extended guarantee at the same time as the goods
- your cancellation and termination rights
- whether the extended guarantee will come to an end if a claim is made
Suppliers’ advertisements in newspapers and magazines must show prices for at least one applicable extended guarantee in clear, legible text beside displayed prices of home electric goods.
Cancelling an extended guarantee
If you buy an extended guarantee which lasts over one year, you can:
- cancel within 45 days and get a full refund if no claim was made
- get a pro rata refund if you want to cancel the extended guarantee after 45 days, even if you claimed
If the extended guarantee costs over £20.00 (including VAT), the supplier must give you written notice about your rights within 24 days after you bought the home electrical goods.
If you have a complaint about a guarantee
Try to resolve your complaint with the guarantor. If the guarantee is written, tell the guarantor which part of the promise they aren’t keeping. If the guarantee isn’t written, remind the guarantor about their promise. If available, ask a witness to confirm your memory of the guarantee.
If you're dissatisfied with the response, and the guarantor is a member of a trade association, ask them to help with your complaint.
- Radio, Electrical and TV Retailers Association Ltd
- Retail Motor Industry Federation
- Contractors Insurance Guarantee Services (NI) Ltd
- Glass and Glazing Federation
- Federation of Master Builders
If your complaint is not settled, you may need to take legal action. If the amount is not more than £3,000, you can take your case to the Small Claims Court. You don’t need a solicitor in the Small Claims Court. Talk to Consumerline or Advice NI. They can advise you how to apply.
For larger amounts, you should talk to a solicitor.