Row over DTI warranty changes

The overhaul of extended warranties has hit controversy after it emerged Argos and other catalogue retailers have been given an advantage this Christmas.

Retailers have been told by the Department of Trade and Industry to implement recommendations by December 1, following a 12-week consultation period ending on October 22.

Catalogue retailers have been given two months' grace by the DTI in recognition of their catalogue production schedules. The ruling means Argos will not have to implement the consultation results until after the critical Christmas period.

A source at one electricals retailer described Argos as having been given a 'disproportionate advantage'.

A DTI spokesman brushed aside the complaint, and said: 'The majority of electrical goods are sold via high street shops, not catalogues.' He said the DTI was putting the consumer first.

Further debate is likely to surround the exemption given to credit card companies that offer free warranties on credit card purchases. Retailers may also question the DTI timeframe, which allows just one month between the end of the consultation period and implementation date.

Initial proposals from the DTI include a 45-day right to cancel.