If a fairly new appliance is faulty and consumes more fuel than it should, you can claim some of the excessive bill from whoever supplied the appliance by using your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. If you bought your goods on or before 30 September 2015, previous legislation – the Sale of Goods Act 1979 – applies. Under these Acts, there are a number of promises incorporated into the contract between you and the supplier of the appliance, imposing implied terms and minimum standards to be met by the goods. These include that the appliance is of satisfactory quality, is fit for purpose, matches the description, sample or model and be installed correctly (implied terms).1s9-18 CRA 2015 The appliance is of ‘satisfactory quality’ if a reasonable person would regard it as such, taking into account how it was described, its price, its fitness for the purpose for which it is normally supplied, its appearance and finish, freedom from minor defects, and safety and durability.2s9(1)-(3) CRA 2015 During the expected lifespan of the product, you are entitled to the following:
•a right to reject the goods if faulty and a full refund within three days of purchase;
•a right to repair or replacement if faulty within six months of purchase;
•a price reduction or right to reject the goods if faulty and it cannot be repaired or replaced within six months of purchase;
•a right to reject the goods up to six years (five years in Scotland) if faulty or it does not last a reasonable period of time subject to fair wear and tear.3s19-24 CRA 2015
Liability for a breach of the Consumer Rights Act lies with the seller of the goods (ie, with whom you make the contract), not with the original manufacturer. The seller is liable for faults which are present at the time of sale, whether s/he knows about them at the time or not. However, manufacturers may also be liable on occasion where a manufacturer’s guarantee is included with the sale contract or under the law of negligence where faults in the goods cause damage to either individuals or to property.
The Supply of Goods (Implied Terms) Act 1973 puts similar terms into a hire purchase agreement – ie, of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, matches the description, sample or model and lasts a reasonable length of time. This makes the hire purchase company responsible for the quality of the goods supplied.
If an installation (eg, central heating) is installed defectively, you can use your rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. These provide that work must be undertaken with a reasonable degree of competence or care and skill, in a reasonable time, for a reasonable charge and that information spoken or written is binding where the consumer relies on it.4s49-52 CRA 2015 If it is not, the person providing the service is liable. There are also Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations covering the installation of gas fittings (such as meters and pipes) and gas appliances (such as for heating or cooking).5GS(IU) Regs Any gas fitting installed must be soundly constructed and not made of lead or lead alloy.6GS(IU) Regs No gas appliance can be installed unless it can be used without danger to anyone and this has been checked by the installer.7GS(IU) Regs If goods are bought on hire purchase or on credit for £100 or more, and the credit was supplied by a lender associated with the supplier (this includes credit cards), then the lender of the money is liable for faults as well as the supplier under the Consumer Credit Act 1974.8s75 Consumer Credit Act 1974 Here, it is the finance provider, rather than the supplier, who is legally responsible if there are problems with the goods. This means you can sue or threaten to sue the credit card company or other lender – this tactic can be used to put pressure on the supplier to settle any dispute or to get redress if the supplier has gone out of business.
If damage is caused by a faulty appliance, you may be able to claim additional or alternative redress, including a claim for compensation or damages from the manufacturer under the general law of negligence or under the Consumer Protection Act 1987. If the damage includes physical injury to someone, seek legal advice.