Caught in the Middle


One of the misconceptions that plumbers often get lumbered with is fixture and appliance warranties. A plumber can supply and install a fixture or appliance, but if a fault occurs with the appliance itself, the issue needs to be rectified by the manufacturer. Plumbers aren’t licensed to fix appliances and in most cases will void the warranty if they try to fix them. If a plumber has supplied the item, it is their responsibility to organise a warranty call from the manufacturer to rectify the problem.

Unfortunately, over the years of being an apprentice and plumber I have had my fair share of issues dealing with manufacturers to rectify issues with a fixture or appliance.

Yesterday I had another classic example of terrible customer service. This time my dad was on the receiving end.

We installed an instantaneous hot water unit a little over 12 months ago. It’s an electric instantaneous hot water unit that has the ability to feed a shower and basin.  Over the last couple of months the unit has been temperamental. The water in the shower would constantly need to be adjusted to remain hot and if too much cold water was added to the shower, the hot water would instantly cut out.

My dad made the call to the manufacturer down south and asked if they could organise a service person to come and look at the installed hot water unit and find out why it was being temperamental. Because it was  just over the 12 months warranty period, he even suggested they send us a bill if it was our installation that had caused the issue. Dad gave the details of the client to the manufacturer so that they could organise a time to fix the hot water unit.

Well instead of organizing a service call, the manufacturer rang our client and asked them to do a series of water pressure and temperature tests to which the client had no ability to even measure. They advised our client that they didn’t have a service person to fix the hot water unit.

When our client rang my dad to tell him about the phone call, my dad rang this manufacturer again and  said again he would pay for someone from their company to fix the hot water unit. They didn’t want to help.  In the end they suggested installing a pressure limiting valve on the cold water line feeding the hot water unit. We installed this valve and it seemed to help the issue of maintaining the temperature of the shower, but if too much cold water is added, the hot water will cut out instantaneously.

The lesson from this story is that as plumbers, we can be caught in the middle of warranty or appliance issues. If an appliance has a fault and the manufacturer chooses to not provide a maintenance service, it can make the plumber look like they have done a bad job, when in reality they haven’t.

All appliance suppliers should have an after sales service person who is able to fix faults with their products.  Customer service seems to be lacking in some of our appliance suppliers. They are happy to make a sale, but they aren’t keen to keep a customer satisfied if an issue arises.

Having had this experience with this particular company, I will be cautious of recommending this brand of hot water unit in the future. I just can’t afford for their bad customer service to mar our company’s good reputation.

Have you ever had a bad customer service experience? Are there any plumbers or tradies that can relate to my experience?

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