Imagine this situation : you bought an appliance a few days or years ago without purchasing any warranty. All of a sudden, it stops working, even though the vendor had assured you that it would last longer than it did. Most of the time, consumers will go ahead and fix or replace the appliance right away, at their own expenses. However, as consumers, you do have some rights and you can go back to the vendor in order to ask for a replacement and/or a compensation for the damages that you sustained. But, what should you do if the appliance stops working and the vendor or manufacturer does not want to compensate you?

What is the legal warranty?

The legal warranty is a protection implemented by the Government of Quebec through the Office de la Protection du Consommateur (Consumer Protection Office), that allows consumers to get a recourse when a purchased product stops working before then end of what is considered a reasonable lifetime (or reasonable length of time). In the context of home appliances, it is expected that with a normal usage, a large appliance should not stop working before the 5 first years.

Does it apply to my situation?

Here are two examples for a dishwasher, in order to demonstrate how you should interpret the law regarding legal warranty :

– Your dishwasher stops working just two months after the end of the manufacturer’s warranty. A technician performs a diagnostic and he detects that the electrical control panel is damaged. You call the vendor and he answers that there is nothing they can do for you. In this case, you should be able to successfully assert your rights of purchase.

– Same case, but with a 10 year old dishwasher. You could use the principle of the legal warranty, but the compensation that you could receive has to take into account the normal wear and tear of the appliance. In this situation, it might not be worth the effort.

How should I assert my rights?

The information kit provided by the OPC here is comprehensive and we encourage you to consult it, should you need more details. However, here is a resume of the procedure you should follow :

– Specify your problem and reread your contract in order to validate if the defect noticed is currently covered under the manufacturer or extended warranty. You may need the advice of an appliance repair specialist to confirm the cause of the failure and facilitate your proceedings.

– Collect every useful information (purchase agreement, bills, letters, etc.) and build a historic of everything that happened since you bought the appliance, including every exchange you had with the vendor, manufacturer, etc. Otherwise, you might forget some details of your conversations. Keeping a copy of every email correspondence is encouraged as well.

– Determine what you want to get from this procedure : a repair, an exchange, a complete or partial refund. Be reasonable and search for a fair solution.

– Communicate with people who can help you solve the problem (store manager, owner, etc.), in writing or in person, along with a witness. Write down names, titles, dates and conversation subjects.

– Negotiate an agreement. If the negotiation fails, you can fill out the Formal Notice form, that you can find on the OPC website here.

Is it worth the effort?

– Economically : maybe not. Taking legal steps is often time and money consuming, and you have to wait a few months for your cause to be heard.

– In principle, yes! As a consumer, you have an active role to play in order to make sure manufacturers and vendors offer goods and services that match your needs. This includes offering a decent support throughout the reasonable length of time period. Not expressing your insatisfaction, also means being satisfied by the situation. So make sure to assert your rights when necessary!