Portsmouth couple stand their ground in consumer battle with Bosch to get lawnmower repaired

Philomena and Lee Bryant had good reason to believe Robert Bosch power tools were a cut above the rest, until a wrangle over a faulty lawnmower left them fighting for a square deal.

By Richard Thomson
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 10:44 am

The retired couple were astounded when their mower packed up just two months out of warranty leaving them at loggerheads with the company after a quote for replacing a defective motor came to more than the original purchase price.

Phil told Streetwise they had been completely satisfied with Bosch appliances large and small, and always found them reliable and well made.

When in March 2019 it became obvious their original machine had seen better days, they had no hesitation in buying a replacement Bosch mower.

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Philomena and Lee Bryant at home in Portsmouth. Picture: Sam Stephenson

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A major plus point was the two-year product warranty rather than the standard annual defect protection offered by much of the garden tool competition.

Phil said: ‘Husband Lee was in the building trade and had bought lots of Bosch things including power tools over the years and never had an issue with any of them.’

‘The mower was kept in the garage, and he just wheeled it to the front, and then to the back to do the two lawns.

Lee Bryant Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘Because it became faulty this May, just two months after the warranty ended, I felt strongly the machine was faulty as it hadn’t been misused in any way. Lee takes great pride in the garden and just a few years ago he was runner-up in The News garden competition.

‘The weekend before I phoned them up to report the fault and sent it back to get a quote for the repair it was making a horrible noise then stopped working. We could see sparks coming from it.’

But more sparks were set to fly when Phil’s warranty woes were about to escalate following the receipt of a Bosch £150 repair quotation which inexplicably amounted to £30 more than the original purchase price.

When she got onto the company to explain the baffling cost, the customer service team promptly hid behind the terms of the warranty. They insisted the mower’s untimely defect was the end of the line with no further right of redress.

A customer service agent repeatedly asserted the matter was non-negotiable. It was a standard cost for a chargeable repair.

When she responded that no-one would expect a lawnmower to pack up after just two years and requested a more realistic cost assessment, she was abruptly, but politely, given the cold shoulder.

Countless complaints from Streetwise readers confirm shoppers are being sold short when expensive electrical goods break down. Despite the law protecting buyers against faulty goods after purchase, customers are routinely told they will have to pay for repairs.

Top retail offenders include supermarkets, who are notorious for making life difficult for customers, sending them around in a wild goose chase to the manufacturer which insists on imposing extortionate call-out charges, plus parts.

To complicate the picture further, retailers are vey much in the business of selling extended insurance-backed warranties prompting manufacturers to cynically hike up the cost of parts and repairs.

Although it is to be expected goods wear out with use over time, whether buyers may be able to get their money back or a replacement depends very much on when the fault develops.

Under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act shoppers have an absolute right of rejection and a refund if a product turns out to be faulty within 30 days of purchase.

Customers also have a right to ask a retailer to repair or replace a product within six months of buying it if it proves to be a ‘Friday’ model, and they must give you your money back or replace it if they can’t repair it first time around.

After six months it is down to the buyer to prove goods weren’t up to scratch at the time of purchase, but the alternative is to insist on a refund or replacement under the manufacturer’s warranty.

The Consumer Rights Act also confirms goods must last for a reasonable time – and that can be anything up to six years from the date of purchase.

Concerned that she’d hit a brick wall with the take it or leave it option on offer, Phil contacted Streetwise to ask whether she was being unreasonable in expecting their lawn mower to last for more than two years.

We explained the law doesn’t spell out how long products should last because they all have different lifespans. The greater the complexity of a product, the quality, price, number of components, and usage frequency are all potent factors.

However, a manufacturers’ survey by consumer watchdog Which? confirmed electrical products should last at the very minimum of five years or more, and lawnmowers were in a seven-year lifespan bracket.

We congratulated Phil for strongly arguing the Bosch quote to repair their mower was indefensible. Although she wasn’t expecting it to be replaced, all she was prepared to pay was £40 towards the cost to reflect the two years’ use the couple had from it.

We took up their protest with the company on the basis the mower had failed the legal test of durability. It was irrelevant whether the component failure was outside their warranty period. A warranty was expected to enhance a buyer’s rights, not take them away.

In all fairness to the company once we alerted them to the Bryants’ complaint they initiated a commendable U-turn and within a few days the dispute was sorted.

Initially an offer was made to Phil to slash to price of the repair to £79, but she commendably stood her ground and insisted for around another £50 she could buy a new one.

Within hours Bosch called back and agreed to accept her initial £40 offer but replace the defective mower with a new Rotak 650 machine upgrade guaranteed for three years and currently on sale for £199.99.

Spokesperson Martin Sibley confirmed: ‘We have been in contact with Mrs Bryant this week and have reached an amicable resolution to this matter.’

Phil told us they were over the moon with how the issue was resolved.

She said: ‘We were delighted with the outcome all thanks to your intervention, you truly are a consumer champion.’