CONSUMER: ‘I’m cooking on gas thanks to Streetwise stepping into my battle with Currys’

Yvonne Graham finally got a satisfactory result after Streetwise stepped in to help her with her new cooker that kept breaking down 
Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160571-04)
Yvonne Graham finally got a satisfactory result after Streetwise stepped in to help her with her new cooker that kept breaking down Picture: Ian Hargreaves (160571-04)

LETTER OF THE DAY: Housing - more needs to be done

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A furious Yvonne Graham felt abandoned by Currys after a cooker it sold her exploded into a fireball and developed recurring ignition faults when she went to use the grill.

The 62-year-old shop assistant from Havant told Streetwise she’d been battling with the top electrical retailer for five years, but it refused to replace the rogue cooker under its Know How service plan.

Yvonne explained she is allergic to cheese and cannot have pre-prepared meals containing animal fats. She prepares and cooks her own meals each day after getting home from a busy supermarket shift.

Her problems with Currys began towards the end of 2010 when she decided her old cooker had seen better days.

She had no hesitation browsing the Currys Ocean Park Portsmouth store where she was attracted to a £450 Flavel cooker. She said: ‘When I first got it and it was set up the grill wouldn’t light. It would only ignite after there was a gas build-up producing an initial fireball.

‘The Know How engineers tried to fix it countless times but from then onwards it just wouldn’t stay alight.

‘I had so many visits from the engineer he didn’t bother coming up the front garden path, but went straight round the back.’

An angry Yvonne fortunately didn’t have to pay for all the engineer call outs and failed parts because she’d taken out an annual Currys Know How service plan. In the event a product can’t be repaired, the plan provides for a replacement.

She added: ‘I got to know the engineer quite well who showed me the parts and admitted it was a design fault. He said they can patch it up but they could never stop it happening again.

‘Some of the people I rang at Know How got quite embarrassed with me, others just got annoyed. I wasn’t prepared to buy another cooker because they couldn’t get it sorted, it wasn’t fit for purpose. They thought they could just keep fobbing me off and that was the end of it.’

Yvonne’s patience finally snapped just before last Christmas when the cooker went wrong again. She decided to track down the Currys store manager and drive home her demand for a replacement. She told him she’d been sold a dud appliance and wanted to know what he proposed to do about it.

She says she was gob-smacked when he brusquely retorted it wasn’t anything to do with him – he only sold cookers.

It made no difference it was covered by a service plan, and she’d been inconvenienced on countless occasions having to negotiate a convenient time for service calls.

Her face-to-face encounter had ended up being peremptorily dismissed.

Yvonne left the store feeling no-one was on her side and she’d been treated with contempt.

Matters came to a head shortly before Easter. The grill continued to keep going out and the oven refused to reach the correct temperature.

She emailed Streetwise in sheer desperation to tell us she was at the end of her tether. She didn’t know what more she could do, and pleaded for our help.

Shaken by her story we put her narrative of woe to Currys and asked for a comment. We felt ignoring her insistence the cooker should have been replaced much earlier was quite extraordinary given the history of all the service calls and repeated replacement parts that had failed to fix it.

When our deadline was about to come and go without an acknowledgement or response, we went on the offensive and contacted the firm’s chief executive Sebastian James.

Within hours Yvonne received a phone call from Currys confirming it was making arrangements to replace her cooker and was issuing her with a voucher to the value of £444.99. She could use it in store to buy another cooker of her choice.

This time Yvonne settled for a Zanussi model and as a goodwill gesture it was also agreed she would not have to pay a delivery charge or for the defective cooker to be removed and installation of the new one.

A Currys spokesperson said: ‘We are sorry to hear that this customer had a bad experience, we always aim to do everything we can, within the boundaries of our agreed terms and conditions, to ensure all customers are left satisfied.

‘In this specific case, we have come to a resolution that the customer is happy with and we are happy to have helped out. We always take customer feedback on board and try to ensure this doesn’t happen again.’

A thoroughly relived and grateful Yvonne said: ‘There’s absolutely no way I’d have got a new cooker unless you got involved. I did try hard and asked for a replacement several times because I was so sick of it going wrong, but the Know How people just wouldn’t budge

‘Thank you so much for all your help, I really couldn’t have done it on my own.’