Shops are flogging ‘worthless’ insurance policies for kettles and toasters — and charging more than a third of the price of the items.
Money Mail research found major retailers such as Argos, Currys and John Lewis are pushing expensive insurance cover alongside basic kitchen appliances.
The policies — which can cost as much as £10 to cover a £30 kettle — promise to fix or replace your item for free if it breaks.
However, most electrical items are sold with a one or two-year manufacturer’s guarantee that provides the same cover for free, in the event there is a fault.
Unnecessary: Major retailers such as Argos, Currys and John Lewis are pushing expensive insurance policies — which can cost as much as £10 to cover a £30 kettle
On top of this, under consumer law, shoppers have up to six years to complain about items if they are not of satisfactory quality and do not last a reasonable length of time.
Retailers claim that the policies they sell also protect shoppers in the event of accidental damage, which is otherwise not covered.
But experts say that the chances of accidentally damaging something like a kettle or toaster are low, as you do not take them out of the home.
They also warn that policies can be riddled with exclusions, which can make it more hassle than it’s worth to claim.
James Daley, of insurance experts Fairer Finance, says: ‘It’s surprising to see these policies still being sold as widely as they are.
They are way too expensive and, when it comes to small-ticket kitchen appliances, they just aren’t worth it.
‘Shoppers would be much better off self-insuring by saving a few pounds here and there, in case they need to replace something.’
The policies are typically offered as soon as you add an item to your online shopping trolley and are all called something slightly different.
Argos, for example, offers customers purchasing items worth up to £149.99 ‘Replacement Care’ insurance.
The price varies depending on the value of the item purchased. For instance, customers buying a £20 pink Breville blender at Argos would pay £7.99 for cover — more than a third of the price of the blender itself.
Argos charges £39.99 to insure a £129.99 Kenwood kMix blender
For a £129.99 Kenwood kMix blender, meanwhile, the cost jumps to £39.99.
The policy promises to immediately replace items in the event of accidental damage for up to three years after purchase. It will also cover any faults that emerge after the one-year manufacturer’s guarantee ends.
However, it will not pay out for any cosmetic damage, such as dents, if you dropped the item. It will also reject claims if it believes you have been neglectful, or the damage was caused by a pet — such as if a dog pulled on the wire of an electrical appliance and sent it crashing to the floor.
Currys offers its customers a three-year ‘Instant Replacement’ Plan’ when buying items that cost between £20 and £150. As with the Argos policy, the cost varies depending on the price of the item.
When purchasing a £34.50 Breville kettle, for example, it will cost £9.99. For a £43.99 Morphy Richards four-slice toaster, it would be £12.99.
With John Lewis, customers automatically get a free two-year guarantee with home electrical items.
This means that, should an item break down, John Lewis will fix or replace it.
However, customers can also pay an extra £10 for an ‘Added Care’ insurance policy that offers two years of accidental damage cover.
John Lewis says it is only supposed to be offered to customers who are spending at least £49.99 on an appliance.
Yet, on its website earlier yesterday, the policy was being sold alongside cheaper products, such as a £27.99 Bosch steam iron. John Lewis says this was an error and is being corrected.
The Consumer Rights Act states that goods must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and last a ‘reasonable’ length of time.
John Lewis says it is only supposed to be offered to customers who are spending at least £49.99 on an appliance
It is the responsibility of the retailer to arrange for items to be repaired or replaced in the event of a fault.
If customers return a faulty item within six months, it is up to the shop to prove that there was no defect in the item when it was bought.
After six months, the burden of proof shifts to the customer to prove the goods were faulty when purchased.
James Walker, founder of customer complaints website Resolver, says: ‘Warranties often aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. Many are essentially worthless. You’ve already got a number of rights regarding returns if goods are faulty or aren’t working.
‘So, while it might make sense to insure high-value items, unless you plan on taking your toaster on holiday with you, think twice before paying yet more money to cover it.’
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at consumer experts Which?, says: ‘Shoppers need to think very carefully before buying extra warranties on small- ticket appliances, as they can be poor value for money, even if what’s being offered appears to provide a way to protect a purchase.
‘Consumers already have protections in place against faulty products under the Consumer Rights Act or a manufacturer’s guarantee.’
A spokesman for Currys says: ‘Our Instant Replacement plans give customers peace of mind on a huge range of small electrical products and often provide more support, and for significantly longer, than a standard warranty.
‘Furthermore, customers taking out Instant Replacement plans are able to get a new product on the spot with no quibbles and can get a new product as many times as is necessary across the three-year life of the plan.’
A spokeswoman for Argos says: ‘We offer competitively priced warranties for all our products, so customers have the option of extra cover and peace of mind.’
A spokesman for John Lewis says: ‘Our Added Care policy for small electricals applies only to products over £49.99.
‘On our website, a couple of products costing under this price threshold were incorrectly listed as being available for the Added Care policy. However, we are in the process of correcting this.’