Sometimes things break
It’s one of those annoying facts of life that, no matter how sensibly we take care of our appliances, at some point they will fail us... So, what do you do when this happens? Why, you call a specialist repair service, of course!
Before you call the pros
Before you do anything else: Make sure you switch off and then unplug/disconnect the misbehaving appliance from its power source, you wouldn’t want anything overheating (or worse) while you’re preoccupied with trying to locate a repair service! Also, be careful not to handle it if it’s hot.
Have a look at the Warranty
If you can find it! It just might happen that the appliance is still covered by the warranty. Most manufacturers will guarantee their products to be free of operational defects for 90 days, but some may be more generous. If you’re that lucky, then it’s a simple matter of following the instructions, which will usually include the telephone number of the manufacturer’s service department. Having the appliance’s serial number and date of purchase at hand will save some time, but be patient as you will likely be asked to wait until you can speak to an operator.
How old is it?
Sometimes the cost of repairing an older appliance can be quite high, mainly because that particular model is likely to have been discontinued and spares can be difficult to come by. In that case, it might make sense to just buy a newer version, unless you happen to be quite attached to your old model (and we all do get attached to our old washer/toaster/refrigerator!).
Maybe it’s nothing serious…
Sometimes it’s a very simple thing that even the most mechanically un-inclined amongst us can fix. If you’re feeling bold, here are some common complaints and some very basic do-it-yourself tips you can check before calling the pros. This list should save you time and money, although it is by no means exhaustive:
- My washer is vibrating/making noise. Look under it for the adjustable feet, and see if they’re level. If not, they can be lengthened/shortened just by turning them. An unbalanced load (all the clothes shifting to one side during the wash) can also cause a noisy performance, and is easily sorted.
- My VCR picture is snowy. Head-cleaning tapes can easily fix this most of the time. Just follow the instructions on the box.
- The flame in my gas hob is uneven. Try cleaning out the jets with a needle. Be sure the hob has been turned OFF and allowed to cool before you do this!
- My vacuum cleaner has very little suction. Unplug it first. Try checking the hose for obstructions. Also, have you changed the bag? We all forget to do this every now and then!
- My appliance doesn’t do anything! Is it plugged in? It sounds silly, but nobody’s above sometimes forgetting simple details like this! If the appliance was indeed plugged in and doesn’t react, then unplug it and try something else, like a lamp, in the mains socket. If that doesn’t work, then it’s probably better to call an electrician. Be sure to switch the mains socket to OFF.
Specialists vs. the local workshop
If your appliance is no longer covered by the warranty, it might seem like a good idea to contact the manufacturer’s service department anyway, as they certainly are experts in your particular model. However, sometimes they might not have a local site, and the added cost of posting the appliance might make it worthwhile to shop around for an alternative. In other cases, like washers or dryers, the appliance itself might be too heavy to post. Not to worry, you can find many qualified local repair services in our PropertyPro directory.
Things to watch out for
Although we would hope that all repair services are trustworthy, it’s good to know your rights as with any situation where a contract (verbal or otherwise) is involved. Your rights are protected by the Supply of Goods and Services Act. In a nutshell, here’s what it has to say. Don’t worry; we’ll spare you the legal jargon:
- The repairperson should do his/her job with reasonable care and skill.
- The work should be completed in reasonable time, if you haven’t agreed a completion date. It’s tricky to tell what ‘reasonable time’ is for a job, so it’s always a good idea to agree a completion date before work starts, preferably in writing. Unexpected delays may crop up, so be flexible (within reason).
- You should be charged a reasonable amount, if the fees haven’t been agreed to beforehand. To be on the safe side, ask for a written quotation. You might be charged for this estimate, as it might involve taking the appliance apart. It also helps to shop around to get an idea of what the ‘going rate’ is for that sort of job.
Also, any replacement parts fitted should be the right ones for the job, and should be of good quality. This is specified in the Sale of Goods Act. If these replacement parts are new, you may also have other rights specified in the warranty.
- www.hints-n-tips.com - Tips on appliance repair for the keen do-it-yourselfer.
- www.citizensadvice.org.uk - Official site of Citizens Advice, a consumer rights group.
- www.netlawman.co.uk - Detailed description of the Supply Of Goods And Services Act.
- www.hants.gov.uk - A Frequently Asked Questions page concerning appliance repair.