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8 August 2012

Cooktop problem

The cooktop that took two months to fix.

The cooktop that took two months to fix.

Ineke and David Kershaw paid $2600 for their Bosch induction cooktop in 2008. It was "a joy to use" … or it was until it stopped working this year. The elements on the cooktop suddenly failed and the family had to resort to cooking meals on a camp stove.

At $2000+, induction cooktops aren't cheap. We'd expect them to be trouble free for longer than four years – and our appliance reliability surveys show that most are.

Ineke initially contacted a local service agent listed on Bosch's website but he had trouble pinpointing the problem: "A part was ordered and we were warned it was going to cost around $500, which we were not happy about," Ineke told us. But when the part arrived, it didn't fix the problem and a second part had to be ordered from overseas.

Still waiting for the cooktop to be repaired and worried about the mounting costs of replacement parts, Ineke got in touch with our consumer adviser Maggie Edwards. By this time, the family had been cooking on a camp stove for nearly two months and the novelty had long worn off.

Maggie contacted Bosch, asking the company to look into the problem. "The Consumer Guarantees Act requires products to last a reasonable period of time – given the nature of the goods, their use and the price paid. In this case, the $2600 cooktop was only four years old and hadn't had heavy use."

The Act also requires manufacturers (and importers) to take steps to ensure spare parts and repair services are available for a reasonable time unless you’re told when you make your purchase that they aren't available.

Bosch responded quickly. Soon after Maggie's call, Ineke and David received an email from the company stating it would pay for the repairs. As it turned out, the cooktop was able to be fixed with a part that was already in stock. Ineke was "thrilled" to have a working hob again. But she believes Bosch needs to provide better training for its service agents so problems can be diagnosed promptly.

Bosch told us it conducts regular training of its service agents but "these agents are independent and at times matters are not resolved appropriately". It says it only became aware of the problem after being contacted by Maggie and states consumers can contact the company's customer service department directly.

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