My six-year-old son is autistic which means he has acutely sensitive hearing, wets the bed daily and is a very messy eater – our washing machine is in constant use and, until now, it was quiet.
For this reason I took out a Domestic & General £5.99 a month “peace of mind” care plan when I bought the machine in 2016, which allows me a replacement like for like should anything go wrong.
Four weeks ago my machine stopped working. D&G said it would be three days before they could send a technician.
When the technician arrived, he had to order a spare part and promised to call when it was in. Having heard nothing for five days, I called D&G. It said that the replacement time frame was 28 days, which was not flagged up when the key facts of the policy were explained.
After six more days of chasing, there was still no news and no updates. It was only when I called two weeks after the technician’s visit that I was told the machine had been written off and would be replaced.
I stressed that the noise level was a critical issue and was assured the replacement would be equivalent to my old one. However, the new machine was 10 times louder than my old one.
The sound pierces my son’s ears and his reaction is devastating but D&G explained that decibels were not a key specification.
I have had to pay £48 for a third party to collect the machine and will have to shop for a new one.
I have paid in excess of £220 into the care plan and spent three weeks using launderettes and friends’ machines. Had I not had a care plan, I would have had a new machine immediately and probably for not much more money.
LP, Southsea, Hampshire
As you’ve discovered, extended warranties are rarely worth the money. The manufacturer’s warranty should cover appliances for the first couple of years – often more – and the Consumer Rights Act allows up to six years to complain about a fault, although you have to prove it’s a manufacturing defect if it’s more than six months after purchase.
If appliances last longer than that you could end up paying more in the monthly premiums than the cost of a new machine. And if you have to wait up to 28 days for a repair or a replacement, it may be quicker to sort a problem yourself.
Your experience is dismaying on several counts – the long wait, the waste of a machine that had been deemed reparable and the indifference when the replacement did not meet your needs.
Predictably, D&G softened when the Observer put your case. It removed the unsatisfactory machine for free, gave you a cash sum to buy a replacement and added an extra sum in goodwill. “We are sorry the customer had a bad experience with us,” it says. “Delivering quality customer service is our priority, so any complaint is disappointing and we work hard to resolve these incidents.”
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