A faulty Hotpoint tumble dryer owner who was refused a refund by his credit card provider Nationwide has had the decision overturned by the Ombudsman – triggering a rethink by the building society on other similar cases. Here's what the ruling means and how you can try to claim from your credit card company.
MoneySaver Kris asked Nationwide for his money back after being told that his dryer was a potential fire risk and that he would have to wait almost a year for a repair by the manufacturer.
He was confident he could rely on Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974, which says that if you pay for goods that cost between £100 and £30,000 and you pay for any of it on a credit card, the credit company is jointly liable with the retailer if anything goes wrong.
But Kris was rebuffed by the building society, which told him he couldn't have a refund because Hotpoint had acted reasonably in its offer to fix it free of charge. Unwilling to accept a fire hazard in his home for almost 12 months, he took his case to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS), which has now ruled Nationwide must pay up.
Its decision has led the building society to review about 30 similar cases, and given fresh hope to millions of Hotpoint and Indesit customers who are still waiting to have their tumble dryers repaired and want a refund - though the FOS told us it will continue to review claims "on a case-by-case basis". See Hotpoint tumble dryer help for full info on what to try.
In November 2015, Hotpoint's parent company Whirlpool announced a fire risk meant millions of potentially dangerous tumble dryers sold between April 2004 and October 2015 under the Hotpoint, Indesit and Creda brand names would have to be repaired.
However, many affected customers have been told they'll have to wait months for the company to send round an engineer to fix the malfunctioning machines free of charge.
MoneySavingExpert.com has been inundated with emails from concerned customers. In March, we published a guide with three tricks to try if you don't want to wait months for a repair, or would prefer a refund or replacement anyway. These were:
- Asking Whirlpool for a refund or replacement instead of a repair anyway. While the official word from the company is that it isn't offering repairs or replacements, lots of MoneySavers who've tried their luck have had success going down this road – particularly when using social media to complain.
- Going to the shop you bought the dryer from. Many MoneySavers have had success contacting the retailer and seeking a refund or replacement under the Consumer Rights Act (and the Sale of Goods Act, which applies to goods bought before 1 October 2015). See our Consumer Rights guide for more on this.
- Going to your credit card company if you paid on credit card. This involves seeking a Section 75 refund, as Kris tried – for more info on how this works and how to claim, see our Section 75 guide. Success isn't guaranteed though and MoneySavers have reported mixed results trying this – which makes the latest FOS ruling particularly significant.
Six months after we published our Hotpoint refund tricks guide, we were contacted by Kris, who did not want to give his full name. Having shelled out £205 for his dryer seven years ago, he was among the many customers to be told his machine was a potential fire risk and that it would take almost a year before an engineer would be able to fix it.
Kris says: "I was obviously worried about the safety issue because the advice was that I should be present whenever the machine was in use, but I'm not a trained firefighter and for me it was unacceptable to have something dangerous in my house. There was also the consideration that it could invalidate my home insurance policy."
Because he bought the dryer from Comet (now out of business), Kris was unable to get his money back from the retailer, so he asked Nationwide for a refund under Section 75. However, the building society refused his request due to "a policy reason" – and when pushed, said it'd give no refund as Hotpoint had "acted reasonably" in offering to repair the machine free of charge.
He contacted the FOS, which provisionally ruled he should receive a full refund of £205. Nationwide contested this – the Ombudsman reconsidered and in its final ruling awarded Kris £150, taking into account his six years using the dryer incident-free.
Kris's case sets precedent for other Nationwide claims
Nationwide says it's now accepted the Ombudsman ruling and has reviewed about another 30 claims as a result.
A spokesperson says: "Due to the number of appliances that needed repair Hotpoint were not able to offer a solution straightaway and the FOS decided that the customer should not be expected to wait this long due to the nature of the fault. As a result, Nationwide reviewed its decision and subsequent claims in the same situation have been processed."
We asked Nationwide whether the amount other claimants receive will depend on how long they've had their dryers and were told that "each case is assessed on a case-by-case basis, but the length of time they have had the appliance is taken into consideration".