Guarantee: What you need to know as a consumer or business owner

A nightmare for many consumers: you’ve just bought a product only to find out it’s defective. Luckily, you’re not without recourse. Different types of guarantee are in place to protect the customer in this situation. Whether you’re a consumer curious about your rights or a business owner trying to figure out your obligations, read on to find out all you need to know about a guarantee, its meaning and definition, and find out how guarantees work and what the different types are.

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Definition: what is guarantee?

A guarantee is a reassurance from a manufacturer or retailer about the quality, condition, or performance of a product. It’s meant to protect consumers in case they purchase defective products or products that don’t work as intended. If a product is defective and the terms of the guarantee are met, the customer is entitled to a free repair, full replacement of the product, or a refund.

The main law governing guarantees is the UK Consumer Rights Act 2015. Retailers generally must comply with statutory rights which take precedence over any guarantees or extended warranties they may offer. If an item breaks down or is faulty within the first 6 months after purchase, a retailer must repair or replace it. The seller is not allowed to simply pass the matter to the manufacturer to evade responsibility. In addition, manufacturers may offer periods (months or years) during which the product is covered by a guarantee.

A written guarantee should include the parts covered, the length of the guarantee, what the guarantee doesn’t cover, and whether the consumer will be entitled to a repair, refund, or replacement. The guarantee document must be written in plain language, so that it’s easily understandable for laypeople.


A guarantee is an assurance of the quality of a product and tends to be offered for free by the manufacturer promising repair or replacement in case of product fault not caused by damage.

Guarantees can form an important element of customer retention. Without any type of guarantee or warranty, customers might feel that it’s too risky to purchase your products, especially if they the goods are expensive. Or if customers discover defects, they might simply switch to the competition, instead of having the problem repaired. Offering a guarantee can go a long way towards building trust with customers.

Guarantees are usually offered free of charge and providers contractually agree to honour the terms set out within. If a provider were to refuse a claim made against a guarantee, the buyer could take them to court. In other words, a guarantee is a legal obligation and once made must be adhered to.

Guarantee vs.

The difference in meaning and definition between a guarantee and a warranty is mostly semantic. However, a warranty or extended guarantee is usually provided at an added cost. Extended guarantees or warranties can either take effect after the manufacturer’s standard guarantee or can set out additional reassurances and breakdown cover should something happen to the product in the meantime. They are legally binding.


A warranty is like an insurance policy that buyers can purchase at an added cost to cover their products against failure or damage.


Warranties and guarantees are relevant for defective products. If you want to return a fully functioning item, you should look at the company’s return policy.


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How does guarantee work?

If you’re a consumer who wants to take advantage of any of the types of guarantee discussed above, there are some things you should take into consideration.

A number of cases are typically not covered by a guarantee. Anything that comes back to the actions of the consumer rather than a defect in the product itself likely won’t be covered. For example, if you drop your phone in water and then it stops working, the retailer or manufacturer is unlikely to repair it for you. A common term in written guarantees and warranties is that no modifications can be made to the product. So if you decide to buy a car and customise it with special parts, this might invalidate your options for free repair. Manufacturers can also leave out certain parts of the product from coverage in guarantees. An extended warranty may then be offered to cover those parts.

If you’re buying a used product, you should think about what kind of guarantee you’d like to have. Used goods may be sold as still under guarantee by a manufacturer. A seller could also state that the product is sold as seen without any guarantee. When it comes to manufacturers’ warranties, claims are sometimes denied if they’re not made by the original owner.

If you’re a business owner, the main takeaway is that you should be careful about what you write on your product packaging and on product pages. Even if you don’t offer written guarantees, you will have to live up to the promises you make about your products.


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Please note the legal disclaimer relating to this article.

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