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Complaints Relating to After-sales Service and Maintenance of Electrical Appliances Remain High Traders Urged to Ensure Supply and Enhance Service Quality to Uphold their Reputations

  • 2022.08.15

Electrical appliances are necessities in daily life, especially when consumers are spending more time at home during the pandemic, electrical appliances are more likely to get worn out and require maintenance or even replacement. Complaints relating to electrical appliances received by the Consumer Council, being the highest amongst all categories last year, remains persistently high this year. The Council has received a large number of complaints relating to home appliances this year covering various types of disputes, from late/non-delivery, prolonged maintenance time, shortage of replacement parts, to the methodology in counting the warranty period.

The Council understands the various issues arising from the pandemic, such as manpower shortage, delayed logistics, shortage of spare parts, and disrupted supply chain and transportation. However, as the pandemic has been ongoing for more than 2 years, traders have the responsibility to proactively tackle any possible issues that might arise under the new normal. The Council urges traders to ensure the stability of their supply chain and stock levels, and evaluate their ability to provide the products within a reasonable period before accepting orders. On the other hand, traders should enhance and strengthen their after-sales service by ensuring a sufficient inventory of spare parts and providing maintenance service within a reasonable time. Not only would this boost customers’ confidence in their brand, but it would also prolong the lifespan of the product and support sustainable consumption. In case where traders could not complete the delivery or maintenance as scheduled, they have the responsibility to inform customers in the first instance and offer cancellation and refund arrangements in the event of prolonged delay in delivery, so as to protect the rights of consumers.

Case 1: Vacuum Cleaner Maintenance Lasted for 7 Months
Extra Charge Required Due to Lack of Spare Parts During Warranty Period

The complainant purchased an upright vacuum cleaner from Company A. Due to malfunctioning, the appliance was passed to Company A for maintenance in mid-October 2021. Company A informed the complainant that a maintenance charge of $550 for alternative spare parts was required due to lack of original parts. The complainant disagreed with the charge since the vacuum cleaner was still under warranty and Company A should have the responsibility to provide suitable parts instead of charging its customer. Around 3 months later, upon the complainant’s follow-up enquiry on the maintenance progress, Company A suddenly stated that the vacuum cleaner had physical damage that affected its functionality, and thus demanded a maintenance fee. However, as the maintenance receipt only stated that there were stains and scratches on the vacuum cleaner without mentioning any physical damage, the complainant did not accept Company A’s claims. Besides, as the maintenance had been delayed for over 3 months, the complainant requested a product exchange from Company A. After failing repeatedly to resolve the matter with Company A, the complainant sought assistance from the Council.

After the Council’s conciliation, Company A notified the Council in April this year that they had reached a resolution with the complainant to exchange the vacuum cleaner. However, Company A did not arrange the exchange as promised. The Council followed up on the complaint case again and eventually the exchange was completed in mid-May this year, meaning that the whole incident had dragged on for 7 months.

Case 2: Refund After 6 Months for Out-of-Stock Wireless Charger
Bungled Customer Service Failed to Offer a Reason for Delay

The complainant purchased a wireless charger from the online store of Company B and the invoice stated a delivery time of around 5 working days. The complainant tracked the order status constantly but to find the status had remained to be “Await Shipment” even after 2 months. When the complainant followed up with Company B, their staff, without providing a reason for the delay, indicated that exchange or refund could be possible, yet lacking further update. Neither did the complainant receive any response after lodging a complaint. The complainant was dissatisfied that Company B, being a major online store, had not proactively offered an explanation nor followed up the matter in spite of the delay for more than a month. Therefore, the complainant lodged a complaint with the Council.

After repeated attempts to contact Company B, the Council finally received a reply after 2 months. Company B explained that they were arranging a refund for the order but still failed to offer an explanation as to their inadequate customer service. Despite the refund was eventually arranged, the whole process had taken almost 6 months to complete since the order was placed.

Case 3: Dehumidifier Was Delivered Almost 1 Month After the Purchase
Yet Warranty Period Was Unreasonably Counted from the Date of Purchase

The complainant ordered a dehumidifier from Company C and purchased an extended warranty. Due to logistics and other issues, the dehumidifier was delivered 20 days after the purchase. When the complainant enquired about the effective date of the warranty, Company C replied that the warranty period started from the date of purchase, which the complainant found unreasonable as he did not start using the product from the date of purchase. As it took 20 days for delivery, meaning that the warranty period was cut short by almost a month, as was the extended warranty. Opining that it would only be reasonable for the warranty to be effective from the day of delivery, the complainant sought assistance from the Council. After the Council’s conciliation, Company C agreed to start the warranty period based on the delivery date, and issued a new receipt for warranty purpose. The case was thus resolved.

The Council reminds consumers that whenever consumers purchase or repair their electrical appliances, they should confirm with traders on the delivery date, warranty period, maintenance completion date, as well as the refund policy or alternative arrangements. They should also pay heed to the following:

  • Confirm with traders whether the product is in stock before purchase. If the product is out of stock, or a longer delivery time is expected, consumers should consider if they would accept the arrangement, or purchase the product through other channels in case they are urgently in need of the product;
  • Spare extra effort to confirm the delivery and installation dates when purchasing large electrical appliances, especially products requiring installation;
  • To ensure a seamless transition between the old and new electrical appliances, consumers should arrange for disposal of the old appliance after confirming the arrival or delivery date of the new appliance;
  • Ensure that the condition stated in the maintenance receipt is accurate. Should there be any discrepancy, it should be immediately raised to the maintenance service provider and the relevant documents should be kept properly. When collecting the appliance, check its condition on the spot and indicate any damage not listed on the maintenance receipt;
  • Consumers should fully understand the terms and conditions of any “Extended Warranty”, or they may request the salesperson to fully explain the terms and conditions to them. They should list the important scope of maintenance on the receipt or brochure to enhance their protection;
  • If there is any discrepancy between the delivery date and effective date of the warranty, consumers should retain the delivery note as evidence and contact the retailer or maintenance service provider as soon as possible. Consumers could seek assistance from the Council if negotiation fails.


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