Cold com­fort in faulty fridge

Daily Express - - The Crusader -

“ALL I want is what I bought in the first place – a fridge freezer that works,” a fed-up mum com­plained to Cru­sader after her hopes for a re­pair were dashed six times.

With a two-year guar­an­tee for her £350 LG ap­pli­ance and a 10-year one on the com­pres­sor part, Sally Mac­Don­ald felt re­as­sured that she had am­ple cover when she made her pur­chase in Septem­ber 2016. But a host of dif­fi­cul­ties arose after it failed in July last year. “Ba­si­cally it has been sit­ting empty and use­less in my kitchen for months,” Sally told Cru­sader. While hav­ing guar­an­tees un­doubt­edly pro­tects most con­sumers, with a re­tailer and a man­u­fac­turer in the mix plus op­tions for a cash re­fund or re­place­ment, when faults oc­cur the sit­u­a­tion can be less straight­for­ward than peo­ple re­alise. Sally’s sit­u­a­tion was es­pe­cially dif­fi­cult. Her fridge freezer, which had re­ceived good in­de­pen­dent re­views, suited her fam­ily kitchen. A like-for-like re­place­ment was no longer pos­si­ble and in her view the sub­sti­tutes of­fered were not as good.

A re­fund was less at­trac­tive as prices had risen since she first pur­chased 22 months be­fore from Cur­rys on­line.

Be­cause of her com­po­nent cover, after the first break­down Sally re­ported the prob­lem to LG and a com­pres­sor fault was di­ag­nosed. But then things got messy as re­pair ap­point­ments she made were ei­ther missed or can­celled.

An en­gi­neer did ap­pear but didn’t have the right tools. Then in Novem­ber a sixth ap­point­ment was can­celled by LG and she was told records showed her prob­lem had been sorted.

Con­sumer rights reg­u­la­tions in­volve both the re­tailer and any man­u­fac­turer, so we high­lighted Sally’s plight with LG and Cur­rys and also asked so­lic­i­tor Joanne Leze­more of ad­vice site con­sumer-ge­nie.co.uk. While prod­ucts must be of sat­is­fac­tory qual­ity there is no set time as to how long goods should last al­though “gen­er­ally speak­ing the rea­son­able per­son would ex­pect a fridge freezer to last a lot longer than two years,” she said.

Any claim un­der the Con­sumer Rights Act (CRA) is against the re­tailer, and claims can be brought for up to a pe­riod of six years after a sale. But due to the time Sally had owned her ap­pli­ance it would be down to her to prove an in­her­ent de­fect.

Re­tail­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers are not le­gally obliged to of­fer a war­ranty or guar­an­tee, but a man­u­fac­turer’s one is le­gally bind­ing. This means con­sumers can claim against the re­tailer, the man­u­fac­turer, or both.

A re­tailer can­not oblige a cus­tomer to rely on the war­ranty. “How­ever, you can only claim un­der the war­ranty for what is cov­ered – and very of­ten, these do not of­fer the same level of pro­tec­tion and rights as af­forded to con­sumers un­der the CRA,” warns Leze­more. Ac­cord­ing to Sally’s LG war­ranty, a re­pair or re­place­ment is car­ried out at its dis­cre­tion.

But if nei­ther hap­pened she would be en­ti­tled to be com­pen­sated for breach of war­ranty.

“Any re­fund can be re­duced to take ac­count of the amount of time a con­sumer has used the prod­uct,” adds Leze­more. “Courts would look at the ac­tual fi­nan­cial loss suf­fered, but rarely take ac­count of the time and in­con­ve­nience caused.”

With Cru­sader back­ing her, Sally elected to try for an­other re­pair ap­point­ment, and this time it did hap­pen and the fridge freezer is on fine form again.

Cur­rys, which did try to of­fer sev­eral al­ter­na­tives, recog­nised the in­con­ve­nience Sally had ex­pe­ri­enced and as a good­will ges­ture sent £100 to cover the value of the spoiled food.

“I felt so lost, but I am much hap­pier with this out­come, your in­ter­ven­tion was cru­cial,” she told Cru­sader.

Pic­ture: GETTY/MASKOT

SHELF LIFE: Fridge freez­ers should last longer

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