Washing machines: The load is more than just dirty laundry

February 28, 2019

WASHING machines are nothing less than a miracle when one tries to escape a pile of dirty laundry. These machines are advanced bits of modern technology with a lot of moving parts involved in making life easier for people, hence is viewed by many as a necessity to have in the home.

Consumers mull over many vital factors before purchasing a machine and there are many brands to choose from in retail outlets. Consumers look for quality washing machines that are kind on clothes, energy and water efficient, operate quietly and most importantly fits their budget.

However, it can be extremely frustrating when the purchased washing machine starts acting up due to defects.

The Consumer Council of Fiji received a total of 142 complaints on issues with washing machines in the last three years. The complaints amounted to a monetary value of $83,891. Consumers complained of machines becoming defective soon after purchase, delay in repairs and persistent defects despite multiple repairs. In some cases, the Council noted that the washing machines delivered were different from the ones purchased.

Complainant Maikeli was one of these unfortunate consumers. He had purchased a 9kg machine that promised to wash 9kgs of clothes per load. However, when he received the washing machine, he noted that it could not wash the advertised 9kg load. The washing machine worth $1353 was bought on hire purchase in October last year and stopped working after three months of use. He raised the matter with the trader after which a staff and a technician were sent to the consumer’s residence to look into the fault.

The technician confirmed to Maikeli that the washing machine was a 7kg instead of the purchased 9kg. Maikeli in good faith assumed the trader would provide redress but was surprised when he was denied a replacement. His frustration over being cheated and the lack of action by the trader caused him to seek the Council’s assistance.

The Council conducted a mediation between the two parties and resolved the matter. The trader had agreed that they had made a blunder and agreed to provide Maikeli a replacement in accordance with what he paid for and was specified in his agreement. As compensation, the trader also waived some of the costs.

The trader was warned by the Council to refrain from duping consumers and to adhere to the Fijian Competition and Consumer Commission (FCCC) Act 2010 sections 75 and 77(1) (a), which stipulate that specific goods bought must be fit for the intended purpose.

The Act further states that traders should not, in trade or commerce, engage in any conduct that is misleading. Traders should also refrain from falsely representing that goods are of a particular standard, quality, grade, composition, style or model.

Consumers being sold defective washing machines and other white goods without any regard for fairness in the marketplace is a grave concern for the Council. Traders are reminded to act responsibly and ensure consumers are equipped with all the necessary information about the goods they purchase.

At the same time, consumers must make sure the washing machines they purchase should be of acceptable quality. This means the machine should:

  • match the description;
  • be satisfactory in look and finish;
  • be free from small faults;
  • last for a reasonable time;
  • be safe to use; and
  • do everything they are commonly used for. 

Consumers are also urged to exercise their rights and responsibilities as consumers and question traders thoroughly to clear any doubts they may have regarding the goods they purchase and redress mechanisms available to them. This will save them from unnecessary hassle and the burden of repair cost.

Yours rights as Consumers when things go wrong

1. Manufacturer’s warranty and extended warranty 

Consumers are advised to seek information on warranties and extended warranties in order to know what are covered. They must also read the warranty contract thoroughly.

If problems occur in the goods and repairs works are carried out, consumers should demand for service report from traders when the repaired items are delivered.

2. 3Rs – Refund, Replacement, Repair 

You should be able to get a repair, replacement or refund if:

  • goods purchased do not do what they are meant to, or are defective;
  • goods are different from their description, eg on packaging or in advertising;
  • goods do not match the sample or model you were shown;
  • goods are not reasonably fit for a particular purpose you told the seller about; and
  • goods delivered are damaged. 

Consumers facing issues with washing machines or any white goods are urged to lodge an official complaint by calling the toll-free National Consumer Helpline 155 or email complaints@consumersfiji.org