Smart Consumer: What are my rights on a hire-purchase vacuum cleaner that won't work?
Q Philip contacted Smart Consumer about a vacuum cleaner he bought under a hire-purchase agreement.
He writes: "It's only two years old, but it's starting to cut out when I'm doing any vacuuming for about an hour or two, and then it comes back on again. It's beginning to drive me up the wall"!
Philip says that he did contact the retailer and the manufacturer but they haven't offered him anything, so he wants to know what his rights are.
A When you buy under a hire-purchase agreement, essentially you are hiring the product until you make the final payment when you purchase the product outright.
Up until then, the product is owned by the finance company.
But if the item becomes faulty, your consumer rights are exactly the same as if you had bought the product in full.
So, under the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980, your vacuum cleaner should be of merchantable quality, fit for its purpose and be reasonably durable as described.
Under a hire-purchase plan, you do have a duty to take reasonable care of the hired goods, but assuming your vacuum cleaner is faulty then both the retailer and the finance company are responsible for providing a remedy.
So you can make your complaint and your claim for a repair or replacement to either.
In addition, if the vacuum is defective and you choose to return it, you are entitled to a refund of any installments paid, as your rights in this situation are the same as if you had purchased it outright.
You mentioned you contacted the manufacturer, and if you have a valid manufacturer's guarantee, then you could instead claim for a repair under that, depending on the terms of the guarantee.