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1 May 2024

Letters of the month: cancelled flights, car repairs, a noisy washer & more

You've sent us your questions and shared your experiences. Here's what our expert advisers had to say about your rights.

Infographic of a car, island and keyboard

Unsound media unit

In December 2015 I purchased a new Honda Jazz, taking delivery of it in January 2016. Within the first 2 months the media unit had stopped working. I complained and it was repaired by Honda under warranty. The media unit has many times since ceased to work and been repaired or replaced, only to break again. When I once more complained in December 2022, I was told Honda no longer was responsible as the warranty on the latest replacement had expired. Honda advised that it has upgraded to an improved model of the unit and that, if I wanted a unit that works, I would have to contribute about half the cost towards that new model. It’s obvious that the original media unit in my vehicle was not fit for purpose. I’d like it replaced with one that is fit for purpose at no cost to me. What would your advice be?

- GRACE SHARP

OUR EXPERTS SAY:

As the unit failed almost immediately after purchase and has been replaced or repaired several times without success, the Honda store you purchased the vehicle from should replace it with a working model at no cost to you. The store initially supplied a media unit that failed to meet the guarantee of acceptable quality in the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) and each attempt to remedy that failure has been unsuccessful. The fact that so long has passed since the purchase is the store’s fault, and to suggest that it has no responsibility because the warranty on the latest replacement has expired adds insult to injury. Of course, even though the warranty has expired, the replacement unit is covered by the CGA as a new unit. We’d suggest you point this out to the store and ask them to provide the media unit at no charge.

UPDATE:

A new media unit was provided and fitted at no charge.


Short lifespan

In May 2018 we bought a Fisher & Paykel front loader washing machine from an appliance department store. In June last year it started getting extremely noisy when spinning, so we called an appliance serviceman who said it was the bearings and would be very expensive to fix. He said he would speak to the manufacturer about the failure as the machine was only 5 years old. It had done 2,279 cycles. It stopped working completely a week later. The service agent finally heard from the manufacturer a month later. He was told they may make a pro-rata offer and will ring us. We assume this means a discount on a new machine. Could you please advise us what number of cycles you’d expect from a washing machine before it has problems? Our two previous machines each lasted 15 years and we had three children at home then.

- GILLIAN WILTSHIRE

OUR EXPERTS SAY:

We’d expect a washing machine such as yours to last at least 10 years and 5,000 cycles. In other words, your machine has failed after about half the minimum use you could have reasonably expected from it. On that basis it would be reasonable to expect Fisher & Paykel to offer a substantial discount on a replacement machine.

UPDATE:

Gillian was offered a substantial discount on a new machine, which was delivered and installed with no charge.


Expensive repair

We bought a two-seater sofa for $1,000 (originally $1,799) from a furniture shop two and a half years ago. With light domestic use, the seat cushion has collapsed on one side. The retailer has taken it back and now wants to charge us $399 for the repair. It says there is no warranty as it was bought as a “Hot Price” item and demands payment for the repair before it returns the sofa to us. I have already paid a deposit of $150 for the repair. What would your advice be?

- DAVID GORDON

OUR EXPERTS SAY:

We think the Consumer Guarantees Act (CGA) applies. This is because you would not expect a two-seater sofa, with an original price of $1,799, to fail after just over 2 years of use, needing repairs of around $400. If the sofa had been misused, then you’d need to pay for the repair, but you’ve looked after it and it has not been heavily used. If it is a failure of manufacturing, then you could expect it to be fixed for free under the CGA. You will need to go back to the retailer and find out why the CGA does not apply.

UPDATE:

The sofa was repaired and returned free of charge.


Magic keys

I bought a HyperX Alloy Origins CORE RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard from an online shop in June 2021. It is faulty. The keyboard is entering keys on its own, without me physically pressing down the keys. It’s opening random windows all over my computer, so I have to unplug it, rendering the keyboard unusable. The spacebar also feels hard to press. When I sent the keyboard to the shop for repair, I was told the item’s warranty had lapsed, that the shop was unable to assist further and would be sending the item back. I understand that I’m entitled to expect the things I buy to be of acceptable quality. What would you suggest I do?

- A MEMBER

OUR EXPERTS SAY:

The Consumer Guarantees Act says you can ask a trader to repair faulty goods regardless of any warranty expiring. The repair must be carried out in a reasonable time at no charge to you. If it is not, then you can claim a full refund or have the work done elsewhere and charge the original retailer. We think you should go back to the shop and point this out.

UPDATE:

The retailer apologised for poor service and offered our member a refund or a replacement.


Weather, or not?

My daughter flew to Great Barrier Island at the beginning of last year. Her return flight, scheduled to leave at 6pm on January 5, 2023, was cancelled by the airline. The reason given was “adverse weather conditions”. However, the weather was not adverse at the time of her scheduled flight and one of this airline’s flights left at 5.47pm and another at 6.09pm, either side of her flight time. Consequently, she had to find accommodation overnight and catch a ferry back to Auckland. It appears that the airline postponed morning flights until the weather improved and cancelled her scheduled flight due to rescheduling of earlier flights, rather than the weather. The airline terms and conditions state that cancellations due to airline operation issues require passengers to be booked on the next available flight or they’ll be eligible for a refund. What would you advise us to do?

- A MEMBER

OUR EXPERTS SAY:

If the airline cancelled the flight because other flights had been postponed and there was a shortage of pilots to fly the route, then your daughter would be entitled to compensation for accommodation and other expenses resulting from the cancellation. Your daughter could lodge a case with the Disputes Tribunal and, as the claim is likely to be less than $2,000, it would only cost $45.

Consumer advice line.

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