When you return an item for repair and are told that it isn't covered by warranty because it has 'accidental physical damage'. Where does the burden of proof lie?

I have a device that would no longer charge. I could see inside the port that something wasn't right i.e. the pins had lifted. I know that I haven't misused the device and feel that I did nothing to cause this damage.

The company in question have told me that this is a chargeable repair as pins are broken. Is it their right to assume that I broke the device and refuse the repair? The cost to repair is £50 so I am not going to take lengthy legal process against them over this. However would tt be the case that their 'proof' is that a pin can't break/bend by itself so me plugging in the charger was clearly the cause, even though that is using the product as intended?

I had a device that was overheating it was repaired without question, even though theoretically the heat could have been caused by it being inside a TV unit with poor airflow.

So in the UK are companies allowed to refuse a warranty repair without any proof other than their own assumption? I have heard in the US that there is more burden on manufacturer so also is this also a difference in consumer rights?

2 Answers 2


Warranty is company policy. It could be considered part of the contract of sale, but it would still be what the company stated it - at time of purchase - to be. Unless the warranty lists accidental damage as being covered, it looks like the company are following their policy and fulfilling the contract.

If you were looking for legal redress since accidental damage resulted from using the product as intended, you'd have more chance of success looking at unsatisfactory quality or the product being unsuitable for the intended purpose under Part 1 chapter 2 sections 9 and 10 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

It's worth sticking to objective details (for example that the port broke, and that you had used the device as intended). The company are not assuming you broke it (anyone or anything could have caused the accidental damage), and they are not refusing a warranty repair as it appears that accidental damage is not covered by their warranty policy, so this is not one.

  • Thank you, I thought this might be the answer. I won't be pursing it because of the low value it was more that I was curious where this stood in law.
    – Dustybin80
    Commented Oct 9, 2020 at 10:34

There is "warranty" which is what the company gives you voluntarily. Whatever they said in their warranty terms is what counts. And there are "statutory rights", which are your legal rights against the seller of the goods.

For statutory rights, the seller has to fix the problem within the first six months unless they can prove it's your fault. They have to fix the problem within the first 24 months unless you can prove it's their fault.

They can refuse to do anything. If you think that decision is wrong, you can first threaten to take them to court (that might change their decision), threaten to tell everyone about their bad behaviour (that might change their decision), pay the repair yourself, or take them to court.

I have seen manufacturer warranties for example for one year unless they can prove it is your fault - so after say nine months, the manufacturer warranty might cover you, but not the statutory rights, if neither side can prove whose fault it is.

If you are covered by both warranty and statutory rights, it is your choice which one you claim, and neither manufacturer nor seller has the right to pass you to the other party.

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