How to Complain about Faulty Equipment

Cartoon © 2006 Ken Pyne. Reproduced here with permission.

Most people have no idea how to complain when things go wrong.

Most people will not COMPLAIN IN WRITING.

Those that do will not check spelling, punctuation or grammar, and lose credibility because it looks like a 6 year old typed it.

Those who manage to pass that hurdle will ramble on for pages without actually stating WHAT THEY WANT THE COMPANY TO DO.

Here's an example of a letter, which includes full information without irrelevant rambling about your bad leg or your sick mother! (I've used "Z-box" as an example, although I have never needed to complain to xxxx and I'm not suggesting that you would, either!)

You should TYPE your letter so that anyone can read it and post it by Signed For Delivery.


Your full name, address and daytime 'phone number.

(If you use email, be sure to include, also, at least two working email addresses for the reply and make sure that you "white list" the domain of the company so that any reply does not get trashed! If you receive no reply after one working day, use letter post.)

Your equipment make, model number, serial number.

Your xxxx contract number and card number.


Dear xxxx,

My Z-box has been exhibiting the following fault(s) for the last two days:

Picture breaks up into coloured squares.

Horizontal lines appear on picture every Wednesday at 3pm.

I have had an independent engineer examine the system and he confirms that the Z-box is at fault.

Please arrange to replace this faulty unit, at no cost to me, as soon as possible within the next seven days.

Yours faithfully,

Your Name.

This should result in a 'phone call or letter offering to put right the problem - possibly at a cost to you.

If you feel you should not have to pay, or the cost is unreasonable, stay calm and state your case.

Firstly, under the Consumer Protection Act and Sale of Goods Act you have certain rights. These rights may vary slightly, dependent on circumstances, but in general a piece of equipment can be expected to last for "a reasonable amount of time". What is "reasonable" for any particular circumstance and equipment can be decided by a judge but it can be as much as six years.

So, if the company states that you are outside your 12 month warranty, this doesn't matter. Their warranty is in addition to your rights as a consumer and not instead of them!

Consequently your response should be "thank you for your warranty but that is in addition to my rights as a consumer. Those rights state that goods should last a reasonable amount of time and in my opinion your goods have failed very early, and I'm sure a judge would agree with me. Therefore I would like you to replace the faulty goods at your expense."

Obviously you have to be reasonable about this. If the equipment is years old then you can't expect to get a brand new replacement. You may have to settle for refurbished and maybe a different make/model. You can't really ask for anything other than that it works as intended.

Also, if you have "abused" the equipment in some way, say by spilling liquid onto it or by causing it to overheat by shutting it in a cabinet, then you can expect to have to pay at least something towards the cost of replacement. But be prepared to negotiate.

If the company is intransigent (i.e. won't budge) then you may like to try a little leverage. You could, for instance, offer to send the facts to your local M.P., newspaper and/or a television programme. If you are certain that other owners of the equipment have the same problem (as stated in the example letter) then mention this again. If the company has a socila media page, you could post the fact there - but do stick to FACTS and be polite.

Whatever happens, stay calm. If the phone conversation fails to reach agreement, write again to the company stating that you thank them for their offer but it is unacceptable and you are now going to pursue the case in the Small Claims Court unless you receive satisfaction within 7 days.

You can apply on-line and, although it costs about £65, you can claim this money back, as well as reasonable expenses. If your claim is reasonable, you stand an excellent chance of winning compensation.

At this point you won't want to be without your equipment any longer so you should probably consider getting it repaired or replaced independently. The cost of doing this can be included in your claim.

More information:-

How to complain

Small Claims on-line

Stuart Morrison

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How to Complain about Faulty Equipment