Perspectives from the *other side* on Software, Management and Life

Saturday, December 24, 2005

product warranties .......

My dad loves me. As i am sure most dads do :) So he decided to gift me a food processor as a gift, which was very thoughtful of him given i was moving to my new appartment and such things come in handy. He ordered the processor through citi bank rewards that he had accumulated through his VISA card.
One happy day, a big box arrived with a Black &Decker Food processor FX750. Yep, it had all the fancy grinding and juice making capabilities....i could have sworn it looked as if it cook as well! forward 1 month.....
I'm in lahore and my wife brings the jug portion (used to make juices) and says it had smoke coming from its base. I looked under, and yep i could see there was a screw, a nut and the usual i decided that it was a case of a loose screw. After looking and pondering, i decided i was no closer to solving the puzzle as to how the blender worked with the screw in there. So i decided to see the smoke for myself. I put it on, and "whmmmmmmm ......pukhhhhh", the blender became jammed.
Trying to run it again, i had pushed my luck ....i had probably made the matter worse.

Not to worry, or so i though, this is black&decker, and its box has the BIG 2 year warranty written on it. So i decided to locate the warranty center. For Pakistan, they have a number listed in the booklet, which no one picked up. Lucky for me, the only center in pakistan was in lahore (poor islamabadites and karachites). I went about trying to find it based on the address .....and i must say, the service center for B&D looks like a rat breeding center, located in a basement of a cheap plaza, where electricity wires are hanging dangerously low.

Upon receipt of the jug, the technican said that a damaged jug is not in the warranty. I responded that its in the warranty period and dont see why i should pay for it (In the US i could return the damm thing at no cost to me, and replacement of this part would definitly have been handled immediately). The technican said that he was just a technican and such matters are handled by 'headquarter' and he'll let me know what happens.

3 days later, i call up the service center and the person there says that i should talk to a certain Mr Zameer there as he was handling my case. Hmmm ...interesting, i call up Zameer, explain my case and inquired its status. He said, "hmm, you should know that such things are not covered under warranty. Only motors are".
I said, "this was not normal wear and tear and it was not caused by being dropped either,so...."
He interrupted me and said" ahhh, sorry but have to buy the jug"
me,"So how much will it cost me"
Zameer:"its got a list price of 500 Rs (approx 10 USD), but i'll give it to you for 400Rs"
me, thinking its not worth the effort to push him to give this to me for free, and its cheap too:"ok, thats fine"
Zameer:"give me your address, and i will drop it off at your house tonight"

I gave him my address, amazed at him dropping the jug at my home. But something sounded fishy.
So i call the service center and explain all that just happened, and he too was surprise (in a toned down fashion, trying not to accuse anyone or get anyone in trouble ....). But thats all i wanted to hear. I decided i was not going to be suckered out of any money, be that 1cent or $10!

I call back Zameer, and ask him to bring a reciept as well for the jug. I said (lied) that i had spoken to citi bank and they were willing to reimburse the amount if i provide the reciept.
Zameer:"Why dont you just give them the jug to fix"
Me:"Well you're the warranty center, and thats your role. Citi will just reimburse me the cost"
I was clearly getting the vibe that Zameer was feeling like a fish out of water. He knew that trying to con someone was easier than trying to con someone who was going to involve a corp (ie citibank). We hung up then.

Within 5 mins, i get a call from Zameer saying that he had discussed my case with the "higher authorities", and that he had convinced them how 'good' of a customer i was and now i will get it for free. But now the jug will be sent to the service center in 10 days.

Moral of the story: Know what the other guy fears, and then use it. I had an inkling that Zameer did not want to have a paper trail of his activities and by asking for a reciept on the pretex of citibank, he would be involving himself into something bigger than he could handle


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