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Warranty query

(4 Posts)
mrsmata Sun 19-Feb-17 00:14:44

For background info I have a teenage DS who is significantly physically disabled but has no learning disabilities. Two years ago (January 2015) he was awarded a grant by our local council to have a specialist bath lift installed at home. This was on the recommendation of his occupational therapist following a home assessment of his needs. The lift cost was just shy of £2,000 in case this is relevant.
After installation we received a warranty document dated to April 2020 giving contact details of the manufacturer in case of problems.

Three weeks ago DS went to have a bath and the lift rose up as expected but would not lower down again and ever since has been stuck in its raised position. The day afterwards I contacted the manufacturer but they have refused to honour the warranty for two reasons:
1. The lift was paid for through a grant so they say the contract was with the council and not us despite my name being on the document issued by them.
2. The company who supplied and installed the bath lift have since gone into liquidation and regardless of the warranty being from the manufacturer they say this now makes the document invalid.

I mentioned the sale of goods act and that my expectation would be that an item with a 5 year warranty should reliably work for at least that period but they said as it is over 30 days since installation the supplier and not them would be liable. As the supplier no longer exists there is no liability on their part.

The manufacturer suggested that we get the electrics checked to make sure the fault is not there and if not they would be able to send an engineer out at an additional cost to us but we would have to pay for any parts and labour ourselves. We could then pay for an extended warranty through them from this point onwards up to the original warranty date.
We have had the supply checked and there is no identified fault so the issue seems to be somewhere in the mechanics of the lift.

I have contacted the council who are not interested as they say the contract is between us and the manufacturer despite their funding. The manufacturer as above says otherwise.
The only other suggestion they gave is that we pay for a new lift ourselves as another grant cannot be applied for within 5 years of the first one.

Does anyone know if we do have a case through the sale of goods act? I can't find any information about what happens if a supplier ceases to exist in the event of a subsequent manufacturing defect.

prh47bridge Sun 19-Feb-17 00:58:54

The manufacturer is right that your legal rights (which are now under the Consumer Rights Act rather than the Sale of Goods Act) are against the company that sold you the bath lift, not the manufacturer. If the supplier was a limited company and has been liquidated I'm afraid you don't have any legal rights against anyone under the Consumer Rights Act, but it looks like you have an alternative so read on!

Even if your Consumer Rights Act rights were still in force, the lift is over 6 months old. This means you would have to prove that the problem was due to a defect in the lift as supplied rather than being down to wear and tear, misuse or similar.

On a more positive note, the warranty is legally binding on the manufacturer. It is true that, unless the warranty talks about "third party rights", claims can only be made by the person who bought the item. It is therefore important to sort that out. If the council paid the money to you (or your son), you placed the order and you paid the supplier, the contract was between the you and the supplier. The fact the council provided the money as a grant does not affect that. However, if the council placed the order and paid the supplier the contract was between the council and the supplier.

Their argument regarding the supplier appears to be that the warranty is from the manufacturer for the first 30 days after installation, following which liability passes to the supplier. That sounds unlikely but, if true, there would need to be a specific clause in the warranty stating this. In the absence of any such clause the manufacturer is liable.

Go back to the manufacturer and tell them that you are holding them to the terms of their warranty. If they refuse you need to write to them giving them a reasonable time to honour the warranty and telling them that if they continue to refuse you will take legal action.

mrsmata Mon 20-Feb-17 00:27:26

Thanks prh47bridge
There is no mention in the warranty of "third party rights" or a clause about the liability passing over between manufacturer and supplier. So it looks like I need to go back to the council again and try again to get them to sort it out.
If that fails I'll write to the manufacturer and see if I get any joy that way.

prh47bridge Mon 20-Feb-17 09:26:56

So it looks like I need to go back to the council again and try again to get them to sort it out

Did the council appoint the supplier and pay them? If so you are right that you need the council to sort it out. However, if you decided which supplier to use, placed the order and paid them the manufacturer is quite wrong to say that the contract was between the council and the supplied.

The manufacturer is trying to wriggle out of honouring its warranty. Don't let them.

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