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Edforce1

Can I Insist On A Replacement

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Hello

I have a Hoover VHD65D washer dryer that I bought from a large well known electrical store. I have had the machine for approx 1 year and in this time it has developed the same fault ( drier fails to heat up) 3 times. I have contacted Hoover and arranged for the repairs under the guarantee which they have done, however, I am unhappy as the fault has developed again and would like a replaced.

Today I have said this in an email and they replied saying, see below

Thank you for your e-mail regarding repairs to your Hoover washing machine, model number not specified, but logged on our database as a VHW65D, the content of which is duly noted. We are sorry to learn of your experience and the disappointment you have expressed with your appliance and we can advise as follows.

We are unaware of any inherent design fault with the product in question, and our research and development team are very selective when developing our products for what has become a very descerning market place. The type of materials used in the production of the many components that make up your machine are given special attention to ensure that the best possible performance and reliability levels are constantly achieved.

Our continuous quality control procedures further ensure that all our products achieve and maintain these standards.

Unfortunately, and with the best will in the world it is still possible for any appliance to experience component failure.Such failure can occur at any time in the life of a domestic appliance, irrespective of age or manufacture and in no way suggests any endemic fault with the product concerned.

Whilst it is regrettable that repairs have been necessary they have been undertaken in accordance with the warranty terms and conditions.

We note that the engineer is scheduled to recall and rectify the further problem being reported, and the service office for your area will ensure that the appropriate action required to resolve the matter is taken, under the guarantee terms.

This appears to be a generic reply, my question is where do I stand to take this further.

Cheers

Edforce1

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Hello Edforce1: Can you just clarify a few things please before I reply properly? Does the current breakdown make it 4 times, or is it included in the 3 you quoted. Also although the symptoms you describe are the same, was the fault found the same also? What fault did it have - what parts replaced?


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If a product suffers the same (or related) fault within such a short period of time you are entitled to have lost confidence in the product. Unless an engineer informs you that the part fitted has been modified and improved it would be reasonable to assume this is a weakness in the product, and more importantly likely to continue giving trouble throughout its life. On that basis it would be reasonable to want to reject it for a refund or replacement machine.

There are some caveats though. First, if successful they would be entitled to reduce the amount of refund to reflect the amount of time you've had use from it. Second, although good manufacturers are often mindful of their reputation and can often offer a replacement or a new one at reduced price they can never offer a refund because they never had any of your money. The only people responsible under UK consumer law are the people you bought it from, so if you want a refund, or you are getting nowhere with the manufacturer you need to pursue the retailer ( EU 2 year guarantee. Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances ). The manufacturer has no responsibility under the sale of goods act other than to honour the guarantee that came with the appliance.

The problem we face as consumers is that the manufacturers rarely admit there's a known fault, and the retailers absolutely hate giving us any money back- there really hate it with a passion. Some (such as John Lewis) tend to be much better and I've heard of many people getting a replacement product after repeated breakdowns or even single incidents. The reaction you'll come across if you ask for confront the retailer depends very much on how good they are with customer service but sadly most will fight it unless they feel they have no option.

Regarding the reply you received, as you say it's just a generic cover-all reply. When they say, "unfortunately, and with the best will in the world it is still possible for any appliance to experience component failure. Such failure can occur at any time in the life of a domestic appliance, irrespective of age or manufacture and in no way suggests any endemic fault with the product concerned." they have missed the point entirely. Whilst what they say is true, it would be disingenuous to apply it to the same fault occurring three times. The same fault occurring three times does clearly imply an endemic fault with the product concerned.

Is it a design fault?

This is where it gets complicated. In my experience, most washer dryers do have a common problem with the toc (thermal overload cut-out) sometimes called stats, which prevent the dryer from overheating and setting the machine on fire should the fan or thermostat fail. It's very common for them to go open circuit causing the dryer to stop heating. However, there are multiple causes for this and some of them can be caused by the user (overloading the dryer for example).

Another potentially mitigating circumstance is that due to very real safety concerns manufacturers probably need to err very much on the cautious side regarding these stats. They are the only thing stopping the dryer catching fire if something goes wrong. In the 80s a woman was killed when her washer dryer overheated because of a design fault where the heater was only protected by one stat and it failed.

The problem when they go open circuit is - did it go open circuit because the dryer got too hot and the safety device did its job? Or did it go open circuit because it just broke due to poor manufacture, or being too sensitive and triggering under normal operating conditions when it needn't have? It could be either and how do you prove it?

Clues to causes

If the engineer replaces another part, or otherwise adjusts or repairs something then the implication is that this something caused the stat to fail

If the engineer merely resets the stat or replaces only the stat then the implication is the stat itself was at fault but there's always the possibility that an overloaded dryer tripped it, or the water got turned off temporarily or even that the dryer was stopped whilst still on the drying cycle without it being allowed to run through the ten minute cool down period. These can all cause the stat to trip because they have to be set so relatively low for safety reasons.

Why can't they use resettable stats - that come back on when the machine has cooled down?

On the face of it this would solve the problem except that it would allow an appliance with a dangerous overheating condition to run on and on and potentially end up with consequences.

Hoover are one of the few manufacturers who have resettable stats where there is a small (usually red) pin sticking out from the centre which when tripped (and after cooling down) can be pressed down to reset, which would be felt and heard as a definite click. The beauty of this design is that as an owner you can often reset the stat saving having to have an engineer out. This is handy if it only fails occasionally but if it does keep tripping then it needs an engineer to look at the machine properly!

Summary

If the same fault occurs 3 times it looks like a good case for rejecting the product under the sale of goods act.

If the manufacturer refuses to concede any issue you need to go to the retailer.

If the retailer also refuses to acknowledge any issue you have hit a wall which only persistence, and possibly help from a consumer group or threats of taking them to small claims court can overcome. We may well have rights, and we may well have a very good case, but unless the other party acknowledges our case and complies (which all good retailers should) then we have to either accept that or fight it.

Many will automatically have certain barriers up which they know will get rid of 90 odd percent of complaints so many will comply only to the persistent, those that find people higher up to complain to or threaten to take them to the small claims court or actually start proceedings. The stock answer is, "I'm sorry, but it's out of guarantee, there's nothing we can do". Some may even have the audacity to say if we'd taken out one of their extended warranties maybe things would have been different..

Related advice: EU 2 year guarantee. Sale of Goods Act gives us 6 years to claim for faulty appliances


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Warning:  Read this before attempting any diy repairsNo representations or warranties are made (express or implied) as to the reliability, accuracy or completeness of advice. I can't be held liable for any loss arising directly or indirectly from the use of, or any action taken in reliance on, any information on this website, which is given free of charge and in good faith.

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