Karen Smith’s fridge had seen better days, but replacing it with a new one turned into a seven-month nightmare after the appliance turned out to be a dud.
An angry Karen explained her woes began shortly after she bought it.
Because she doesn’t drive she went online and saw just what she was looking for from electrical retailer AO.
The busy Gosport clerical worker explained she wanted to replace her ageing under-the-counter appliance with a larder fridge.
As the summer was approaching an Indesit model with a drinks dispenser caught her eye, so she had no hesitation in placing an order.
She’d previously bought a 40-inch Samsung TV from the same firm and was impressed by its commitment to excellent customer service.
But from the moment the new £220 fridge was installed in her kitchen at the end of March it turned out to be a flawed model. Indesit engineers were unable to promptly fix a series of problems with it and gave her the cold shoulder when she tried to get it sorted.
‘When I bought the thing,’ she explained, ‘it had a sticker on the door with an 0800 number about registering the product with Indesit, so I thought I needed to contact them when it kept going wrong as they guaranteed it.
‘Immediately it arrived I had problems with it. I went to open the door and the suction was so strong I couldn’t get it to open.
‘I asked my son to try to open it for me and when he had a go it slid across the kitchen floor. I thought I’d give it a few weeks to see if the suction wore off, but in late May I had no choice but to phone Indesit and complain the door wouldn’t open properly.
‘They sent an engineer round, and he pulled it halfway across our wooden kitchen floor before he could open it. He ordered a new door seal and came back on May 30 to fit it, but at the same time I noticed a leak in the drinks dispenser.
‘The new door seal made opening the fridge much better but the dispenser continued to leak. After a number of calls another engineer turned up on June 12 and ordered a complete new door because the dispenser was a sealed unit.
‘He returned on August 14 to fit it and to replace the thermostat, which, in the meantime, had also gone wrong, leaving the fridge freezing up and behaving like a freezer.
It was then he discovered the dispenser operating lever was missing so yet another order had to be raised to obtain the part.’
A furious Karen, 60, said the dodgy fridge was beginning to drive her up the wall because the engineers couldn’t fix it.
She’d taken five days off work in Portsmouth waiting around for them to turn up.
They never had the appropriate parts to hand so every fault required more than one visit.
She insisted replacing the fridge would be the sensible option but the firm persisted in giving her the run-around.
The final straw came following her annual holiday break in August.
She rang Whirlpool, the parent company for Indesit, on September 12 to ask what was happening about the missing dispenser lever.
A nonchalant service agent told her to ring back on the 14th as the part was still not available but should be in stock by then.
When she phoned an astonished Karen was told not to expect the engineer to call anytime soon as the missing lever wouldn’t be in stock until sometime in October.
A hacked off Karen got on to Streetwise to ask if we could help get the rogue fridge shambles sorted.
We suggested she’d fallen into a common trap by mistakenly allowing the fridge fiasco to go on for so long without complaining to where she bought it from – AO.
Legally her statutory rights for the defective fridge were with the seller, not the manufacturer.
AO was responsible to ensure it met the legal satisfactory quality standards and was fit for purpose.
The Indesit guarantee was intended only to be a further safety net.
If it couldn’t repair the appliance to a satisfactory standard after just one single visit, then AO was legally obliged to step in and replace it or refund her money.
We got on to AO and it was genuinely horrified to learn of Karen’s plight.
A spokesperson said: ‘Mrs Smith placed the order online in March 2017. We haven’t had any contact from her, but on September 23, 2017 the manufacturer contacted us and asked us to exchange the product on behalf of Mrs Smith.
‘The product was successfully delivered on September 24, 2017 and the faulty model was also collected.
‘We don’t anticipate Mrs Smith will have any further issues but in the unlikely event she does, we encourage her to get in touch with us at her earliest convenience.’
A much relieved Karen confirmed her ongoing battle with Indesit was finally over.
She said: Your input certainly worked. I’ve had a call from AO with apologies asking if I would choose another fridge from their website to replace the faulty one.
‘I looked and chose an entirely different make of fridge. I just didn’t realise I needed to contact AO when the fridge kept going wrong, I genuinely believed I was covered by the guarantee.
‘Many thanks for your advice and intervention.’