I bought a new dishwasher. It broke. What happened next surprised me.
After a lifetime of renting, and some very dicey kitchen set ups (think – leaky taps, peeling walls and once, a rat infestation), I had the chance to renovate my own kitchen.
The space was tired, sporting blue ‘70s linoleum and worn cupboards, so I laid down plans to spruce it up. The makeover included one big splurge – a fully integrated dishwasher.
Chatting to a kitchen specialist, I was given a stern warning. “Do not buy a Fisher and Paykel dishwasher. You’ll be plagued with problems.” I considered the advice, but noted my parents enjoy a Fisher and Paykel dishwasher that’s been running for a good 20 years and is still going strong.
Some of the other brands that came recommended were thousands of dollars more than the Fisher and Paykel and my budget was tight, so I ignored the advice. That said, the Fisher and Paykel dishwasher wasn’t cheap, costing a little over $2000.
After dropping what felt like a painful amount of cash, the Fisher and Paykel dishwasher was installed in October last year and it looked great. But within a month it was malfunctioning.
Dealing with a faulty dishwasher
After a technician visit in November, I was advised that parts needed to be ordered, but they were overseas, so I had to wait until February before the dishwasher was fixed. Waiting months with a non-functional dishwasher seemed poor customer service, especially when it was practically new, but it didn’t seem like much could be done.
A few weeks after its repair, the dishwasher malfunctioned again so I went through another round of waiting for parts to arrive and be installed. My patience was starting to wear thin.
When it broke for the third time it became clear that there was an inherent design issue. Fisher and Paykel were on speed dial, and the technician who came to my house for repairs was beginning to feel a little too routine and familiar.
Contacting the manufacturer
I approached Fisher and Paykel for a replacement, eager to get off the malfunction merry-go-round. After all, this was a product that wasn’t fit for purpose, and I was covered under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) for a replacement or refund.
I received this stellar response (condensed for brevity).
We regret that you are experiencing difficulty and understand how frustrating this must be. We take great pride in the quality of our appliances and make every effort to have them remain trouble-free for many years. However, there are times when even the best appliances malfunction and will require service.
We understand your interest in a product replacement. However, we feel confident that as our technician has returned as per the recent repair the unit is working as it should be, if you have any further issues we gladly review at that stage.
Thank you for contacting us and allowing us the opportunity to explain the guidelines we follow in handling situations such as yours. While we realise that you had hoped for a more positive response, we hope you will view our decision objectively.
What troubled me the most was the number of people who would receive this response and just accept it. Surely a major company shouldn’t be able to flagrantly breach the law when a customer is entitled to a replacement?
Finally a win?
After touching base with the Consumer NZ advisors, my case was escalated, and Fisher and Paykel backtracked on their initial decision. They would replace the product.
This felt cause for celebration, but it's also disappointing as I’m sure there are plenty of customers who don’t get a quality response because they don’t have consumer advocates gunning for them. The alternative, going through the disputes tribunal process, is time consuming and daunting – which is why often we feel forced to put up with subpar performance or service.
Before accepting the replacement, I needed confirmation that the design flaws I experienced had been resolved. I received the following response:
All new units now have new technology and this has resolved the problem you are having on your current dishwasher.
Finally, a brand-new version of the same Fisher and Paykel dishwasher was installed. I celebrated. Three weeks later it malfunctioned again due to a “motor fault”.
Once again, I was on the phone to Fisher and Paykel who, once again, offered to replace my dishwasher and “promised” it wouldn’t happen again. I’m giving this whole dishwasher saga one more chance. Last week, my third iteration of the same dishwasher was installed, alongside a few apologies and a raft of complimentary dishwashing powder and Fisher and Paykel merchandise. Will my dishwasher break again? Only time will tell.
If you’re having issues with a company, whether it’s a breakdown, repair or replacement – and you’re not satisfied with the response – it’s okay to stand up for your rights. Be sure to remind them of their legal obligations. Sometimes they forget, especially if it’ll cost them.