Poor Quality and After-Sales Service of Electric Massage Products Manufacturers are Urged to Improve Maintenance Services to Strengthen Products Durability

17 August 2020
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Electric massage products are widely available in the market and many people rely on them at home for relaxation or to relief fatigue. However, the Consumer Council has received complaints concerning inferior products quality and dissatisfactory after-sales service. In one of the cases, the complainant’s leg was injured by a leg massager but failed to get a refund despite repeated requests. The durability of the massage chairs is also a disappointment. In one case, the massage chair was out of order after being used for 4 months while in another case the broken massage chair had to be discarded after being used for 2 years and replaced with a new one as the motherboard was no longer produced.

The Council urges manufacturers to support sustainable consumption by improving their product qualities and maintenance services, which include the extension of the inventory period for the major spare parts and testing and adjusting the products for consumers proactively.

Case 1: Complaint against leg massager causing red and swelling calf was not promptly responded

The complainant bought a leg massager from Company A for $4,980. On her first trial, she found it excessively powerful and pressed her legs too hard. As redness was spotted on her calf the next day, the complainant approached the staff at a branch shop of Company A for advice and she was advised to seek medical consultation.  The doctor found that her blood vessels were rather delicate and thus led to subcutaneous tissue bleeding under pressure. Subsequently, the complainant sought for a product return and a refund from Company A. Branch staff claimed that the matter had to be handled in the main office and directed her to contact the responsible supervisor.

Upon repeated phone calls with voice messages left, the complainant finally got a reply from Company A, requesting her to submit photos showing her leg problems and the medical certificate. The complainant acted accordingly but no reply was received after 2 weeks. Given that she needed medical consultation after using the product only once and the Company did not respond to her request for a refund after negotiating for a month, the Complainant felt that Company A was irresponsible and thus sought assistance from the Council. Eventually, Company A recalled the leg massager and fully refunded to her. The case was settled.

Case 2: Brand-new massage chair malfunctioned after 4 months, warranty did not cover replacement of upholstery fabric

Attracted by its good reputation, the complainant bought a premium massage chair from Company B for $28,300. She repeatedly noticed the massage chair was excessively powerful when massaging her buttock parts with strange noise emanating which was different from the trial use of the product before purchase. The complainant then tried the same product at a branch shop of Company B again but found no such strange noise. She immediately requested an on-site inspection.

After inspection, the technician from Company B found that there was stripped screw on the internal components of the massage chair and the pedal was also loosened. He jokingly doubted if the complainant had purchased a display item. The complainant wondered why the massage chair became faulty only 4 months after purchase and the quality of the footrest upholstery fabric was also substandard as it had been worn-out so quickly. She requested to have the massage chair replaced. Nevertheless, Company B denied substandard product quality and counter-accused the complainant of improper usage. The Company only agreed to repair the product but insisted on an additional charge would be levied to replace the footrest upholstery fabric.

Despite the Council’s conciliation, Company B insisted on its proposal to replace the components for free and a charge of $200 to replace the footrest upholstery fabric as it was not covered in warranty. The complainant eventually accepted the repair proposal.

Case 3: Mini-massage chair only lasted slightly over 2 years, had to be discarded due to production of the motherboard stopped

The complainant bought a mini-massage chair from Company C at a promotional price of $3,999. After using it for 2 years, he found the back-massage rollers failing to move upwards and downwards and hence made an appointment for an on-site inspection at an agreed fee of $250. The technician from Company C pointed out that the motherboard had malfunctioned. Since the motherboard was no longer produced, adjustments on other spare parts were made in the hope of fixing the problem. After the maintenance work, the massage chair failed again after operating as normal for only a day. Company C concluded that the massage chair was beyond repair.

The complainant felt startled that the massage chair could only last for 2 years. Even though its warranty had expired, production of essential parts should not be stopped just after 2 years and that was unfair to consumers. Moreover, the complainant believed that Company C had an obligation to inform him that the key spare parts were no longer available prior to the inspection so that he would not have paid the unnecessary inspection fee. The complaint demanded Company C to offer him replacement discount or reimburse him for the inspection charge, but both were rejected. He thus filed a complaint to the Council.

Company C explained that they bore no responsibility for the unavailability of components from the manufacturer and refused to reimburse the complainant but counter-offered a special price of $4,999 for the purchase of another designated model of massage chair. The complainant found it not attractive at all and pointed out that the so-called special offer was indeed the promotional price available in the market. Despite the Council’s conciliation, Company C stuck to its proposal and no settlement could be reached.

When purchasing and using electric massage products, consumers should pay heed to the following points:

Consumers are mostly concerned with the degree of comfort when using electric massage products. In-store trial and to test out the comfortability of different massaging intensities before purchase;

  • When purchasing large-size massage chairs, consumers should pay special attention to the size restrictions of elevators and doors of their residences.   Consumers should also ensure their homes are spacious enough to accommodate the vertical and expanded dimensions of the product. Details on delivery and assembly should also be inquired in advance;
  • Get to know the details of the warranty period, scope of free maintenance and associated terms and conditions. Also, take note that some consumables like the saddles, covers and remote controls might not be covered in the warranty;
  • If renewal of warranty or trade-in promotions are available, consumers should compare the difference in the renewal terms with the original ones, and be mindful on the calculation of the product depreciation and removal cost of old products;
  • Read the product instructions carefully on the duration of each use, suitable age, daily cleanliness etc. If excessive pressure or pain is experienced when using the product, stop immediately to prevent injury and contact the retailers or agents as soon as possible for a solution.

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