DIY troubles… How to complain

4 min read
March 27, 2015

(27/03/2015) This week we look at what you can do if something goes wrong with your DIY projects – when you can complain and when you can’t


The Easter bank holiday is traditionally a time when Britain gets busy with some DIY. The days are getting longer, half the country takes time off because the kids are off school, and families up and down the country crack open the Black&Decker Workmate. Well, the adults at least. We’re not encouraging kids to switch on a power drill…

But home improvement isn’t always that easy, so this week we look at what you can do if something goes wrong with your projects – when you can complain and when you can’t.

So who’s doing DIY?

According to a survey conducted by Maplin a couple of years ago, more than 90 per cent of Brits have taken on a DIY project.

We’re still a nation of DIYers, then, but it seems that the younger you are, the shakier your DIY confidence is. Another survey (this time conducted by NetVoucherCodes) suggested in 2013 that 90 per cent of 18-25-year-olds can’t change a plug, and a full 20% are reluctant to hang a picture.

Yet another study revealed that one in ten people under the age of 35 have called out a handy man to change a light bulb.

Still, whether you’re a nervous beginner or a DIY god with your own TV show, projects can always go wrong.

So what can you do if your DIY goes pear-shaped? Well, if it’s your own mistake, there’s not a lot you can do (measure twice, cut once, as my dad used to say). But if you’ve got a faulty tool or piece of kit, or you’ve experienced poor service from delivery people or other tradesmen, you should raise your DIY complaint via

What if the product’s not right?

Generally speaking, if a product you’ve bought for your home (an appliance such as a washing machine, for example) is broken or faulty, you can always return it.

However, if you simply don’t want it, you might have more trouble. If you ordered the product online, you’ll generally have a 14-day period during which time you can send it back, but it will generally be expected that you keep it in as close to its pristine, packaged condition as possible. If you order from a shop you bought them from a high street retailer or shop then you are not entitled to a refund. The retailer in this scenario may offer you a credit note, so that you can purchase other goods but they are not obliged to provide this.

  • You have six years to take a claim to court for faulty goods, but there is a shift of responsibility after six months from the retailer to the consumer to prove responsibility for the issue
  • Even if the product is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, your contract is with the retailer rather than the manufacturer; it is therefore their responsibility to resolve your issue
  • If you decide you no longer want the you bought from a high street retailer, you are not entitled to a refund
  • If the trader pointed out a defect at the time of the purchase then you are not entitled to a refund
  • If you paid by credit card and the amount was more than £100 and less than £30,000, the credit card company may be partly responsible for compensating you

Delivery problems

If the kit you’ve ordered doesn’t turn up on time, turns up damaged, or doesn’t arrive at all, you are quite understandably going to get annoyed and frustrated with the deliver company.

But although it’s likely to be the delivery company’s issue (and you can raise the issue with the delivery company via Resolver) that’s caused the problem, it is still technically the responsibility of the retailer who sold you the product, so you’ll need to raise the issue direct with the company, too.

Remember, though – until you’re satisfied with the product, you’ve actually received it, or you’ve got a refund, the company selling you the product still has a responsibility to you.

If you can’t face DIY, get a tradesman in

For those of us too nervous to tackle a DIY job, or for rescuing ones that have gone wrong, the best route to take could well be to seek the help of a professional.

When you get a contractor in like this, it’s hugely important to do your research. Before the internet, traders had to rely on word of mouth recommendations to boost their reputations. Today, however, there are a wealth of sites such as checkatrade or rated people where members of the public can review the work of tradesmen.

Another point to check is whether the tradesman is a member of a regulated trade body.

Finally, if you do engage the services of a tradesman, make sure you agree a quote for the project before you start. Don’t just rely on an estimate – with a formal quote the tradesman is under an obligation to stick to a set price unless there is something unexpected that occurs during the course of the work

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