Ex­tended war­ranties

Consumer Voice - - Editor's Voice - Padma Ed­i­tor

Some­where around Oc­to­ber last year, our re­frig­er­a­tor com­pleted three years. None of us in the fam­ily had re­mem­bered the date of its pur­chase un­til we re­ceived a call from the man­u­fac­turer’s agent’s ex­ec­u­tive. Had it been a reg­u­lar call gen­er­ally en­quir­ing about the health of the ap­pli­ance – which is of­ten made at odd hours by cold callers who speak in a mono­tone – I would have for­got­ten about it. This one, how­ever, was quite in­ter­est­ing as the caller hap­pened to be an ex­pe­ri­enced and per­sua­sive sales­per­son who man­aged an open­ing for his pitch with an alarm­ing warn­ing: ‘I must tell you that your fridge’s war­ranty has ex­pired...’ Me: So..? Caller: You will not be able to make use of our free ser­vices, and... Me: What do you mean by free ser­vices? We haven’t had any­body com­ing to give any free ser­vice in the last three years. The fridge does not need any ser­vice, I had thought, or does it? Caller: Madam, we had been calling of­ten to ask if it was work­ing fine. Had it not been run­ning fine, we would have ser­viced it for free un­der the war­ranty. Me: Well, all your com­mu­ni­ca­tion col­lat­eral and the sup­posed man­ual say that it is a ‘main­te­nance-free’ re­frig­er­a­tor. The sales­man at the store had boasted about its longevity... Caller: Madam, sales­peo­ple mostly are not tech­ni­cians and they gen­er­ally ex­ag­ger­ate the brand’s claims. How­ever, I have a spe­cial of­fer for you. Our com­pany is of­fer­ing an an­nual main­te­nance con­tract (AMC) for nearly half the price. So, at Rs 1,750 plus GST, you will have an­other year of ex­tended war­ranty. Me: What else does this AMC cover apart from your calling to ask if the ap­pli­ance is work­ing fine? Caller: This of­fer is like in­surance. We will pay for all im­por­tant parts that may get dam­aged and we will not charge any tech­ni­cian fee while re­plac­ing the dam­aged parts. Me: What all parts are cov­ered un­der this war­ranty? Does it cover vul­ner­a­ble plas­tic parts, glass trays, rub­bers, bulbs, etc.? Caller: No, madam, apart from the ones you men­tioned, it cov­ers ev­ery­thing else. Me: Ev­ery­thing else in­cludes what? Caller: The most im­por­tant part in your fridge is the com­pres­sor and then come its cir­cuit board and coils. Me: But the com­pres­sor al­ready has seven years of ‘guar­an­tee’ – it’s writ­ten in the man­ual. Caller: Yes, you are right, madam, but cir­cuits and other sen­si­tive elec­tri­cal parts are not cov­ered. In case of volt­age fluc­tu­a­tion, they can get dam­aged. These parts are very ex­pen­sive; some can cost over Rs, 5000. How­ever, in our AMC of Rs 1,750, they all will be re­placed free of cost. Me: There’s a big sticker on the fridge that says ‘in­built volt­age sta­biliser’. There should be no ques­tion of power fluc­tu­a­tion dam­ag­ing its parts. You be­ing so sure of its pos­si­bil­ity sug­gest that you are con­tra­dict­ing your com­pany’s claims. Caller: Ummm... (after a two-sec­ond si­lence) ac­tu­ally, madam, the coil of the fridge is very sen­si­tive. If it gets pricked or bent while mov­ing, it can cause ma­jor dam­age to the fridge and... Me: The coil in our model is not open; it’s within the me­tal body. By the way, does your AMC cover the outer body re­pair, and any fix­ing of small dents and scratches? Caller: (As they say, of­fence is the best de­fence) Madam, it seems you are not in­ter­ested in buy­ing the AMC and just test­ing my knowl­edge or pass­ing time. How can an AMC cover dents and scratches? Me: You seem to be get­ting of­fended by a cus­tomer’s sim­ple con­cerns. Shouldn’t I ask what am I get­ting out of the AMC? Caller: Thanks for your time, madam. Please let me know if I can help you with some other in­for­ma­tion. Me: Well, there is this veg­etable fresh­ener that came at­tached with the veg­etable box. Its la­bel reads that it needs re­place­ment after six months. How­ever, de­spite many calls and re­minders, we still have not re­ceived the re­fill/re­place­ment for the same. Pos­si­ble for you to ar­range for one? Caller: Oh, I am re­ally sorry about that, madam. The com­pany has discontinu­ed pro­duc­tion of those fresh­en­ers. Me: Well I was told that it keeps veg­gies fresh and must be re­placed half-yearly. Was that a lie? Caller: I am not­ing down your con­cern, madam, and will ask my se­nior to con­tact you as soon as pos­si­ble. Still wait­ing for the call. What else?

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