How long is a retailer responsible for inherent faults?
Q On 24 December 2014, I bought a refurbished Lenovo laptop from John Lewis. A few months later, John Lewis installed a new hard drive under the extended warranty, but this has now run out. Recently, the laptop started crashing and randomly restarting. Does John Lewis still have to deal with this? Sam Seager
A If the laptop is inherently faulty then yes, under the Sale of Goods Act, John Lewis must still deal with any problems until 23 December 2020.
But it’s a bit more complicated than that. Legally, refurbished computers may not be expected to last as long as brand new models. John Lewis might therefore argue that its responsibility to deal with the laptop ends much earlier than December 2020. It will largely depend on the age of the laptop when Sam bought it.
Also, like Dave Price in his case against PC World (left), Sam will need to prove that the fault is inherent (ie, it existed when he bought it), and wasn’t caused by fair wear and tear or accidental damage. The older a device, the trickier it can be to prove a fault is inherent. But the law gives you six years (five in Scotland) to seek redress, so it’s always worth trying. It’s worth remembering that some inherent faults emerge several years after purchase.
Proving a fault normally requires paying for a computer-repair shop to inspect it. If Sam plans to do this, he should tell John Lewis first because the retailer may offer its own free examination, saving him the cost. If it doesn’t offer this, and the repair shop’s inspection reveals an inherent fault, John Lewis must reimburse Sam what he paid the shop.
Sam now needs to approach John Lewis for help. We’ve also contacted the retailer so it’s aware of the problem and will let you know the outcome soon.