Soggy Waffles, Social Media and Beko
I purchased a Blomberg fridge freezer for my new flat recently. At £399 with a full three year guarantee, it seemed like the right decision over its more well-known competitors who were offering a similar model at almost twice the price for an extension to a three year guarantee. The salesman assured me that it was a good make and that the guarantee would stand the test of time, being backed by D&G and Euronics.
It was with some dismay that, whilst cooking a fish finger supper less than three weeks later, I pulled a packet of very soggy waffles from the freezer. I had not noticed a problem with the fishfingers because I poured them straight out of the packet into the pan but, clearly, there was one.
The light was on in the fridge but no one was home – everything was almost at room temperature and I did not know how long it had been that way. At 6pm on a Friday evening, I got what I expected when I called the number on the guarantee – closed until Monday at 9am.
With the contents of my freezer drawers rapidly defrosting, I was left with no choice but to call the retailer the following morning. After going through several layers of management, I began to get a little tetchy. I was told that they had spoken to the manufacturer who refused to supply me with a new fridge freezer without first assuring themselves that it was actually broken. This in itself brought forth something of an exasperated riposte that if the stuff was not frozen, it must be broken. But they insisted that this had to be checked and no manufacturer’s engineer was available until the following Tuesday.
When I expressed my rather incredulous response, they said the manufacturer felt it was reasonable to come out within one working day. To which I replied, that it was unreasonable for an appliance to stop working after 16 days. When I started invoking the Sale of Goods Act and how the product was not fit for purpose and threatening them with some social media action, they suddenly found one of ‘their’ engineers who was ‘just passing’.
Said engineer replaced the faulty circuit board within five minutes and my fridge freezer sprang back into life. My relief at not losing the entirety of my organic meat did not last long when I counted up the £30 worth of produce that had had to be discarded due to the fact that one woman can only eat so much in one sitting and I did not know how long the organic tofu had been sitting at room temperature in my refrigerator.
So, a few days later, I got a moment to call Stellisons, my retailer to ask about a refund. I was told that they could not do it but if I called the manufacturer, they would sort it out. That’s when he told me I had to call Beko. But I had a Blomberg fridge. Apparently, they’re the same thing. Now, had I known that it was a Beko fridge, I would not have bought it, since their reputation with some of my more enlightened technological friends is not high.
The lady at Beko Customer Services was polite but firm. As I would read in my guarantee, the warranty did not cover reimbursement for frozen food. Which is, I suppose, ok when your fridge freezer is nearly three years old but not when it’s less than three weeks and you’ve just filled it with organic produce. Apparently, I had to claim off my insurance. But there was an excess of £50 and my premium was likely to be increased as a result of this miniscule claim.
I explained to the customer services representative what I do for a living and that they had two choices. I could go onto Twitter and talk about how faults can happen but that, whilst I was inconvenienced for a few hours, Beko ensured that I was not out of pocket financially as a result of the error. I would become a brand ambassador influencing people in their direction. Or I could go on and explain what had happened and how Beko left me to bear the consequential loss that occurred as a result of their faulty product that was not fit for purpose.
She thought for a moment and then told me how Beko had used social media when they had had a problem the previous year – their fridge freezers were implicated in a number of house fires. They had gone online to warn people affected.
But she didn’t seem too concerned about any possible damage that one voice could do to their reputation and grudgingly told me that I would have to put my complaint in writing if I felt so strongly about it. However, she felt there was little chance of me getting my £30 back. She also said that if I was unhappy with the fridge freezer, I should take it up with the retailer.
After mulling it over for a few hours, I decided that I was not happy with the fridge freezer. It was sitting there like a time bomb in the corner of my kitchen and every time I went into it, I found myself checking the produce for signs of defrost. It made me nervous.
I called the retailer and the manager informed me that Blomberg or Beko or whoever it was would not take the fridge freezer back now because I had ‘accepted the repair’. The only way I could get it changed was if Stellisons themselves took the hit and, as an independent company, they could not afford to do that to the tune of £400.
Now, bearing in mind that I have been a repeat customer with them for over 30 years and have recommended them to members of my family and friends, this was quite upsetting, although, being a reasonable person, I could understand their point of view.
I then went onto the Euronics website for more information and found the fridge/freezer that I had purchased, along with one 5 star review. Curiously, I have tried to leave a less favourable testimonial twice now but, whilst it submits, it doesn’t go live.
I also found the Beko Mums United Facebook page where some poor soul tries to do the equivalent of customer service on social media. S/He offered to take my case up with customer services but I have not heard anything back. And further private messaging has not received a response.
To rub salt in the wound, because I complained on their Facebook Page – not liked, just posted – I now see sponsored Facebook ads for competitions to win one of their fridge/freezers in my sidebar and, even worse, I wonder if my friends may be seeing sponsored stories saying that I like them. For the record, the lovely Mari Smith tells me that if you unlike a Page, they will no longer use your information for sponsored stories.
So, what have I learned from this?
First, NEVER allow them to repair a faulty appliance that is less than 28 days old. Stick to your guns and, no matter how inconvenient, insist that they send a new one. That was my big mistake. By being reasonable and trying to salvage at least some of my food, I made a catastrophic error in terms of my negotating power.
Second, investigate product types more thoroughly. Although, in my defence, I feel as if I was a victim of misrepresentation at the point of sale since no mention was made of Beko at any point. Had I been given it, I would have known about the fires and could have made my own decision. If it’s a name you don’t know well, dig around more to find out who really makes the appliance as there seem to be a lot of wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing.
Third, NEVER be reasonable. Only people who shout and make a fuss get their money back.
So, there you have it. Blomberg Fridge/Freezer – unreliable and unable to determine who actually made it. Beko Customer Service – unhelpful.
Feel free to share, like, retweet and plus one – let’s see if one small voice can make a difference.
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