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Warranty responsibility with online purchases


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I know I may be critisised for asking silly questions, but as I found, recently that I was misinterpreting distance selling regs, I'll ask them anyway. If one purchases a computer/laptop from an online seller, advertised as having a manufacturer's warranty, and it then develops a fault, within that period, what is the "line of responsibility"? If one is going to take out an extended warranty, should that be with the seller or the manufacturer? Sorry for asking silly questions, but confess I'm getting a little confused!

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Your first line of call is with the retailer. If they suggest that you deal with the manufacturer direct, then tell them that they are responsible. If it is best to use the manufacturer's facilities, then get (in writing) the retailer to declare that they have instructed you to do so. That will clear up any problems at a later stage, because if you go to the manufacturer direct, without the retailers's approval, then the retailer may refuse any further help or assistance.

Taking out an extended warranty is your choice, and you do not have to take it out straight away, there is by law a cooling off period. Some manufacturer's provide their own extended warranties, which might be better and cheaper that the retailers. You can also get extended warranties from the likes of Domestic and General, who service quite a number of manufacturer's products.

I know that you have suggested a computer or laptop, but I have had occasions were I have purchased printers etc, and the manufacturer have increased their warranty periods for free, on registration of the product.

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Forum Editor

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There's a good deal of confusion over the meaning of 'warranty' - you are not the only one to be confused.

Most manufacturers provide warranties with their products, and these are in respect of faults in the manufacturing process.

If you buy an item from a retailer however, the sale contract is between you and that retailer, not between you and the manufacturer. The retailer is liable to you for anything that goes wrong within six months of the date of purchase, and that liability continues - with qualifications - for a longer period than that.

Electronic devices are necessarily complex things, and few retailers have the technical resources necessary to effect in-house repairs. In addition, the manufacturer's warranty may be invalidated if a third party attempts a repair, and for those reasons most faulty items end up going back to the maker to be repaired. The retailer may suggest that you deal directly with the manufacturer in order to speed up the process, but if you agree - and you don't have to - it's essential that you make it clear that you do so on the strict understanding that it is at the retailer's request, and that you are not thereby surrendering your rights under consumer law.

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What FE has stated is correct. Which ever route you take get it in writing from the retailer if contacting the manufacturer. The sale of Goods Act 1979 states the goods must be of merchantable quality. In general an electrical item over £100.00 should work for at least 5-6 years. If not it is still the retailers responsibility to repair, replace or after 12 months provide a refund commensurate with the age of the item. Buying on line is covered by the Distance Selling Regulations 2000.

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