Most goods that you buy will be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty that lasts for the first twelve months from the date of purchase but any Manufacturer’s Warranty is issued in addition to the protection you enjoy under Sale of Goods legislation. This legislation allows you to bring an action against the retailer that sold you the faulty goods for up to six years(five in Scotland) from the date of purchase.
So when you take something back after 12 months and the retailer gives you a long drawn out and dirty look before telling you that ‘you are only covered for the first 12 months, your warranty has expired’ you can now tell them that they are correct, but it is the manufacturer’s cover that expires after 12 months – you still have protection under the Sale of Goods Act.
Of course if something does go wrong within the first twelve months you could choose to ask either the retailer or manufacturer to deal with it – and it’s up to you to decide which one.
In fact if the goods you bought cost more than one hundred pounds (but less than £30,000) and you paid with your credit card you may actually have a third option since you could take action against the credit card company instead.
Now I said a minute ago that you are covered for up to five or six years depending on where you live. That doesn’t mean that you should expect a full refund if your kettle breaks down after five and a half years, but instead any claim after a prolonged period of usage would need to take into account the expected normal working life of the goods concerned. So if you paid £5000 for a leather suite you would expect it to be in good nick after three or four years but you might not be surprised if your £20 printer that you used every day gives up the ghost after a couple of years.
And here is another important fact. If the fault occurs within six months of purchase then the onus is on the retailer to show that the goods were perfect when you bought them. If it occurs after six months then the burden of proof lies with you to show that the fault was there at the time of purchase.