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I bought a product back in March, but it stopped working recently. Because it was sold with a 2-year warranty, I emailed the supplier.

After not hearing anything back for over a week, I started looking at social media. It seems that many people are complaining that the customer service for this company abruptly stopped just prior to my first email. Rumour suggests that the company may be experiencing financial difficulties.

I have subsequently attempted to contact them via other means, but they appear to have removed live chat from their website and I cannot find any phone numbers. I have contacted them on social media, but have not had any response.

What are my rights in the UK?

If the supplier resolutely ignores my attempts to contact them, do I have any recourse at all?

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If the supplier fails to honour a written warranty you can sue them, either yourself in the small claims court or via a solicitor in the county court depending on the amount at stake. (It is of course possible to represent yourself in the county court, but not recommended if you have little legal experience).

Unless the company either pays what it owes before the case (including your legal costs) or offers a convincing defence at trial, you will then have a judgment against it, which you can enforce against the company's assets or bank account.

You do need to consider, however, that being right does not pay your legal bills. If the company is going bust, there may not be any assets you can seize, particularly if the directors saw the crash coming. Even if the company is still in business, it is up to you to identify some asset, and take the relevant action, such as a third party debt (garnishee) application, instructing bailiffs or a winding up petition. In theory, the company will have to pay all your costs if they have not behaved properly; in practice, I wouldn't count on it.

  • Thanks Tim. Sounds like I'm probably best to swallow this one. – Tom Wright Jul 11 '17 at 8:38
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In the UK, you have rights against the seller (the shop where you bought the product). Especially during the first six months, where the seller is responsible to do something about damages, unless the seller can prove that the damage is your fault. And for a reasonable time (usually about two years), if you can prove that the problem was already there when the product was sold.

You also have rights against the manufacturer, if the manufacturer gave you a warranty. If they gave you two years warranty, then they have to do what their warranty says they have to do.

Whoever you contact has to help you, and can't push the responsibility to the other. On the other hand, you are free to contact whoever is easier to get hold of. You could go to the small claims court to sue the manufacturer, or go to the seller. Whatever is easier for you.

  • Thanks for the explanation. Unfortunately I bought direct, so the seller and manufacturer are one and the same in my case. What are my options if they remain unresponsive? – Tom Wright Jul 6 '17 at 16:27

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