Our warranty was one day out of date

Mary Coates, 90, with her daughter Ann Hurley, 63, and son-in-law John Hurley, 68, with her new tumble dryer that Currys have now replaced.    Picture: Sarah Standing (110906-6600)
Mary Coates, 90, with her daughter Ann Hurley, 63, and son-in-law John Hurley, 68, with her new tumble dryer that Currys have now replaced. Picture: Sarah Standing (110906-6600)
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Trying to get Currys to fix his mother-in-law’s faulty tumble dryer proved to John Hurley just how frustrating arguing over warranties can be.

In theory a guarantee should give customers extra protection in case a product goes wrong, and so provide them with peace of mind.

But sometimes the end of a warranty can instead hand companies an excuse not to repair goods that should reasonably last for much longer.

This was the problem which confronted Mr Hurley when he returned from holiday to find his 90-year-old mother’s White Knight tumble dryer had stopped working almost exactly a year after she bought it.

‘The likelihood is that it broke inside the warranty period,’ he said. ‘But my wife and I only found out when we arrived home on December 20. I called Currys and they said the warranty ended on the 19th. I tried to explain the circumstances – that my mother is elderly and had waited for us to come home – but they weren’t interested.’

After hours of being passed from pillar to post around Currys customer services, Mr Hurley had no luck finding a sympathetic ear.

But rather than giving up he spoke to the manager of his local Fareham store on behalf of his mother, Mary Coates, who told him he would contact the warranty department and see what could be done.

Mr Hurley said: ‘We didn’t hear anything for a while, but eventually he got back in touch to say he had also been sent round the houses trying to sort the problem.

‘But all credit to him he didn’t give up, and we finally got a call from a Sheffield customer services advisor.’

Unfortunately this was far from the end of Mr Hurley’s problems.

He was informed that no repair was possible because the problem was his mother-in-law’s fault for keeping the tumble dryer somewhere too cold – in her garage in Fell Drive, Lee-on-the-Solent.

The simple fix suggested by the advisor was to bring the broken appliance indoors for 24 hours to warm up.

Mr Hurley tried this and was less than surprised when changing the machine’s temperature made no difference whatsoever.

And to further complicate matters he found it impossible to get back in touch with the person who had given him the advice to begin with.

He said: ‘After more toing and froing we were told that nothing further could be done until a report from a local expert was sent to Currys – at our own expense!

‘It would appear that the Currys rule is to give customers with a complaint the run around until they just finally give up trying.

‘All we wanted was to give an old lady the use of her tumble dryer without having to go through all this expense and stress.’

And so Mr Hurley turned to Streetwise who initially received the same response.

We were told it is well-known that tumble dryers must be kept somewhere warm. But we refused to let the matter drop, and Currys finally gave in.

So after almost three months and hours spent on the phone, Mr Hurley was told the electrical giant would pay for a new tumble dryer.

Anina Castle, head of consumer PR for the chain, said: ‘We are pleased to confirm that as the tumble drier was only one day out of warranty we have, as a goodwill gesture, provided the customer with vouchers to buy a replacement.’ In the view of The News’s consumer rights expert, Richard Thomson, this is not an isolated case.

‘This looks like Currys at their worst,’ he said. ‘A product guarantee is supposed to be in addition to one’s statutory rights – not a convenient cut off date to do nothing about a premature failing product.’