Guarantee and Warranty Law in UK.

What is a guarantee?

Generally speaking, guarantees are offered by manufacturers of products. They are free of charge but legally binding under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.

In UK law, a guarantee is considered to be “an agreement to provide some benefit for a set period of time in the event of the goods or services being defective”. For example, a vacuum-cleaner manufacturer will usually offer a guarantee with their products that, for a year or more, they will carry out free repairs for problems caused by a manufacturing defect.

It’s important to remember that manufacturers’ guarantees are in addition to your statutory responsibilities as a supplier under the Sale of Goods Act. A supplier cannot, for instance, refuse to deal with a customer’s complaint about a faulty product simply on the grounds that the product is outside its guarantee period.

In law, suppliers are still liable for any breach of contract – for example, if the goods are not fit for their purpose, or of satisfactory quality – for a period of up to six years (five years from the date the problem arises, in Scotland).

What is a warranty?

Warranties are similar to guarantees, in that they provide a legally-binding assurance that any problems caused by manufacturing defects during a set period will be remedied.

However, unlike guarantees, the customer normally pays for this extra protection. For example, electrical retailers often offer to sell a warranty on their products which covers accidental damage, the cost of repairs and replacement parts.

Warranties – also known as “extended warranties” – have a similar effect to insurance policies – indeed some are issued and underwritten by insurance companies. They are sold on the basis that they will provide the customer with “peace of mind” over the first few years of ownership. See the page in this guide on extended warranties for domestic electrical goods.

Remember that as a supplier, any warranty you offer is in addition to your statutory responsibilities under the Sale of Goods Act. A supplier cannot, for instance, refuse to deal with a customer’s complaint about a faulty product simply on the grounds that the warranty on the product has expired.

In law, a supplier is still liable for any breach of contract – for example, if the goods are not fit for their purpose, or of satisfactory quality – for a period of up to six years (five years from the date the problem arises, in Scotland).

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