I knew it – MNCs are no better, if not worse, than desi ones when it comes to after sales service. This painful truth was revealed to me when my Whirlpool Quick Chill became a hot case, so hot that even the company didn’t want to touch it with a barge pole.
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It happened last summer. I wanted to impress a client of my husband with a tall chilled glass of lime juice from my Whirlpool, just like the ads showed, and reached into the deep freeze for ice, and, what do you know, I felt water sloshing about in its ice tray. ‘Oh, must be the summer’, I thought, and reset the temperature control to maximum and waited…in vain! The water still sloshed, and, horror of horrors, the freezer was turning hot with a vengeance!
While I convinced the client that hot coffee was a better bet than chilled lime juice in the middle of summer, my husband undertook some discreet investigation with the fridge. He pronounced that the problem was beyond him and the experts needed to be called.
Simple? No. For, all the numbers of Whirlpool’s service centre and go-down I possessed were apparently outdated. Whirlpoool had shifted office and I hadn’t a clue where they were shacked up now. Even the LATEST directory of Bangalore telephones yielded the same old numbers. Inspiration struck, and I obtained the numbers from a friendly neighbourhood dealer of consumer durables. I had already lost two days of refrigeration by now.
Point: The customer service/PR dept of Whirlpool were caught napping. No announcement in the local papers, no junk mail to their recent customers to update them on the shift in office, no nothing, how does one operate in this case?…not everybody is as resourceful as ..ahem.. me!
An inspection team arrived (on the same day, I admit), and announced, on cursory inspection, that the motor fan was out, and more problems might be revealed on deeper probing. The bill would come upto about Rs.1500, if we were lucky. I had to shell out the Inspection Charges of 200 bucks to hear this bad news. A mobile van would be sent to correct the problem, not immediately but in a couple of days, I was told, for there was only one mobile van that was busier than Hrithik Roshan in top form.
Simple? No! I thought there was a warranty, guarantee, whatever, on this model for 6 years! But that’s only for compressor etc etc, except for whatever was wrong with the fridge, and only if you have AMC Ma’am, I was told. Just Rs 500 per year and everything is free!
Point: But nobody told me about the AMC when the fridge was purchased, and asked me to read the fine print! And only one van for the whole of Bangalore? Whither, Whirlpool?
A kindly Whirlpool executive advised me to take the AMC right away, and quietly avail of ‘Free’ service.
Simple? No! After two days of more waiting and innumerable reminders over phone, I got a call from their office. More bad news. The Whirlpool engineer, the one and only expert who dealt with Italian models like the one I had, was down with Typhoid, and was hospitalised. There was no saying when he would recover, but I was assured he would be sent from the hospital right to my fridge as soon as he would be able to.
Point: A week went by and the engineer’s typhoid was not worried about my fridge. I considered the options before me at that juncture:
- I make wisecrack comments on this MNC’s policy of having a SINGLE expert to cater to the whole of Bangalore
- I pray for his recovery and give him distance Reiki healing, so that he can heal my fridge in person.
- I appeal to Whirlpool to appeal to their HRD to recruit another Italian expert, from Italy if need be, and immediately thaw out (or chill out?) this ice maiden gone bust.
- I appeal to Whirlpool to send a desi expert, and the consequences be damned!
- I demand Whirlpool to give me a spare fridge while mine cools its heels (or rather, hots up) in anticipation of the typhoid-free engineer.
- Write this letter to whoever is willing to publish it in lieu of a complaint
As I continued to get choice curses-under-the-breath from my neighbours’ for stacking milk, curd and assorted items in their fridges for days on end, my model waited for her Italian knight with shining spanner, gathering dust (and heat) from her abandoned position.
Summer came and went, another company engineer did appear and pronounced that the affected motor fan was not available in India. All we could do was, well, wait, he said.
A kindly refrigerator dealer saved me from turning into a mental wreck by offering to take the hot property off my hands for a king’s ransom of Rs. 1500. I now have another MNC-turned-desi-model which has been so far chilling water, and not spines as the Whirlpool Quick Chill did. Oops – I shouldn’t have said that aloud. Now I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed! ⊕