Guide

Returns and refunds, warranties and complaints

What is a warranty?

A warranty is a legal contact promising that faults with goods will be rectified by the seller or manufacturer beyond what is required by consumer protection laws. You are not obliged to offer warranties with products you sell. However, offering them can add value for the consumer.

Warranties - also known as 'extended warranties' have a similar effect to insurance policies. 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 extended warranties for domestic electrical goods.

Remember that as a supplier, any warranty you offer is in addition to your statutory responsibilities under the Consumer Rights 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.

Warranty or guarantee?

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.