How long is a re­tailer re­spon­si­ble for in­her­ent faults?

Computer Active (UK) - - Con­sumer­ac­tive -

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.

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