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Laundry blues

An Auckland couple has received a refund after they complained their washer left their clothes smelling like burnt plastic.

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Asta Osborne and Hans Hillen paid $1300 for a Daewoo combination washer-dryer from Noel Leeming. “When we started using it, we noticed the dryer caused a burnt plastic smell that filled the whole house,” Hans said.

On Noel Leeming’s advice, they contacted Daewoo service agent Euro Servicing and Installation. A technician inspected the machine but couldn’t pinpoint the problem and went off to do further investigation.

About two weeks after the technician’s visit, Euro Servicing told the couple it hadn’t found a fault with the machine and had asked the manufacturer to confirm whether the smell was normal.

Asta and Hans said they heard nothing further and contacted our advice service to find out what they should do. Our adviser Paul Doocey believed the couple were entitled to a remedy under the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA). “The Act requires goods to be of acceptable quality. If they’re not, you have the right to insist the retailer puts things right. If the problem can’t be fixed, can’t be remedied within a reasonable time, or is substantial, then you have the right to reject the goods and request a replacement or a refund,” he said.

Paul recommended Asta and Hans write to Euro Servicing and Noel Leeming asking for the problem to be fixed promptly or a refund provided by the retailer. Paul also contacted the companies.

Euro Servicing told us it had left a message on the couple’s phone relaying the manufacturer’s advice that the smell would disappear over time. However, the couple said they never got this message.

Eurotech Design, the importer and distributer of Daewoo products, was alerted to the complaint and offered the couple a replacement, as long as they agreed to it being run through several cycles to help dissipate any smell before it was installed at their home.

But Asta and Hans didn’t want another machine that could have the same problem and rejected the offer. “We paid $1300 for a brand new washer-dryer and for that we expected our clothes to smell like clean laundry and not like burnt plastic,” Hans said. As they’d waited two months for the problem to be fixed, they used their CGA rights to reject the machine and request a refund from Noel Leeming.

Eurotech Design told us it had since tested the machine and couldn’t detect any smell. It said the case was not a true reflection of its level of service. The company also said it would always review complaints if it received information in writing.

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