Guarantees from stores 'a rip-off'

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THE extended five-year guarantees offered by stores on household appliances are likely to be examined by the Office of Fair Trading to see if they could constitute an abuse of market power, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

The warranties, usually more expensive than comparable manufacturers' guarantees, were described as a 'rip-off' yesterday by Nigel Griffiths, Labour's consumer spokesman. He claimed that some stores were charging up to three times more and not telling customers about the cheaper alternatives.

Sir Bryan Carsberg, the Director General of Fair Trading, is to make a preliminary ruling on whether they represent a restrictive practice. An investigation by the OFT could follow.