Goods must meet a basic level of quality and keep working for a reasonable period, bearing in mind the price and the way they were described. This is known as a statutory warranty.
If a product fails (stops working or breaks) within that statutory warranty period, and you weren't responsible, you must be compensated. The type of redress will probably depend on how long you've had it.
If a top-of-the-line CD player malfunctions while it's relatively new, you'd be entitled to ask for a refund or replacement. If it develops a fault after 12 months, it's more reasonable to expect a repair.
Goods often come with written warranties, known as express warranties, and traders are obliged to honour these.
But your right to redress is not necessarily limited to the period of the express warranty.
If you've bought a TV that should last a reasonable time, say 10 years, and something goes wrong the day after the 12-month manufacturer's warranty runs out, you've still got rights under the statutory warranty.
So before you fork out for repairs, see the retailer or seek advice from your local Fair Trading authority if goods break down sooner than they reasonably ought to.
If you're ever asked to buy an extended warranty, think about it because it may not be worth it, given the protection you get under the statutory warranty. For more information, see our report on Extended warranties.