Manufacturer’s guarantees – What are your rights

Some defects become obvious immediately after you have begun using a newly bought product. If your hair drier becomes faulty after you have used it only once, then the easiest solution would be to take it back to the retailer and claim a refund or replacement. But what if the fault only becomes apparent after the item has been used for some time?

For example, your automatic washing machine may fail to spin dry the clothes after eleven months of use. You could try claiming it under the Consumer Claims Tribunal but that would take time. This is where the manufacturer’s guarantee would be of some use.

A manufacturer’s guarantee is a promise in writing by the manufacturer that if certain parts are defective or malfunction within a particular period of time, the manufacturer will either remedy the defect or replace the product. However, there is no legal obligation on the part of the manufacturer to provide its own guarantee for under the Consumer Protection Act 1999, consumers already enjoy the protection of implied guarantees as mentioned earlier.

There are also no laws regulating manufacturers’ guarantees but a manufacturer is still bound by contractual law to stick to the terms of his own  guarantee once it is given.

What guarantees do not cover

It is very important to read the guarantee carefully to see what are the restrictions on what you can claim. Most guarantees make you pay for the following items:

  •  Labour charges: guarantees often states that the manufacturer will replace defective parts free of charge but the labour cost involved in fitting those parts would have to be borne by you;
  •  Transport charges: normally you have to get the defective product to the manufacturer. The costs involved have to be borne by you;
  •  Spare parts: manufacturers sometimes only guarantee parts made by themselves. If parts made by some other company are included in the product, then you might have to pay for these replacement parts.

Time period

All products which have a guarantee are only guaranteed for a fixed period of time. It could be a one-year, two-year or five-year guarantee. Sometimes it states one year or 20,000km, whichever is earlier. In some products different parts have different guarantee periods. For example, in refrigerators, the refrigerator is guaranteed for one year but the motor may be guaranteed for five years. Once the guarantee has expired, you would have to bear all the costs of repair, including parts and labour.

When the guarantee is void

All guarantees contain a clause which states something like “This warranty becomes null and void if any alterations in the electrical circuit or parts either by way of adjustment, additions to or replacements by parts of other makes are made by anyone other than ourselves or our authorised dealers.” Thus you have to ensure that the product is not tampered with, either by you or by anyone else.

Sending off the guarantee card

Many manufacturers request you to fill in part of the guarantee card and send it to them within a certain period. This you should do, keeping your portion of the guarantee card as well as the receipt of purchase. The card is to help the manufacturers keep track of the product and to keep them informed of the expiry date of the guarantee.

You should realise that since manufacturers are not legally obliged to give guarantees for their products, they are quite entitled to set their own conditions like a time limit for buyers to send in their guarantee cards for the guarantee to be valid — for example 10 days from the date of purchase. However, most well-known companies will not penalise you if you have forgotten to send in the card or have misplaced your portion of it, so long as you can show proof of purchase such as the receipt.

Who to complain to?

Consumer Claims Tribunal/Tribunal Tuntutan Pengguna Malaysia,
Kementerian Perdagangan Dalam Negeri, Koperasi dan Kepenggunaan,
Aras 5, Lot2G3, Podium2, Presint 2,
Pusat Pendtabiran Kerajaan Persekutuan.
62623 Putrajaya

or the nearest branch.of the  Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism)