Faulty fridge leaves owners fuming

You can’t rely on Defy, as Dieter Stegemann found, when he claimed the washing machine he bought was a hazard (“You can’t rely on Defy”, Off My Trolley, November 2 2016).

Defy changed their slogan from “You can rely on Defy” to “Believe in better” with star athlete, Wayde van Niekerk, as their poster boy.

But Neill and Lynn Morton of Meadowridge would probably disagree with that slogan.

Especially after they battled for three years to replace the Side-by-Side Defy fridge-freezer they bought from House & Home in Tokai on March 31 2013.

Ms Morton said the fridge-freezer had two motors and it was a good size which was why they bought it. The unit was delivered on April Fool’s Day.

“Two days later we noticed the deep freeze was not freezing. After we called House & Home they phoned Defy who sent a technician and he re-gassed the freezer because the factory hadn’t done it. In December 2014 the fridge stopped getting cold so Defy sent another technician who cleaned out the drain. The freezer stopped freezing again and so Defy sent a technician who repaired a leaking gas pipe and then re-gassed it. The technician told us that if the problems persisted it would be sent to Durban to be repaired,” Ms Morton said.

“The freezer stopped freezing on December 24 and when we called Defy they said House & Home would deliver a new fridge which they did on December 29 2014. It had one motor and guess what? The new fridge wasn’t working,” Ms Morton said.

On December 30, Defy collected the new fridge and left a loan fridge as they didn’t have stock.

“We phoned Defy in January 2015 about our old fridge. They said they would replace the filter, compressor, repair the blocked system and re-gas. They would contact us if everything was okay. However, they couldn’t repair it and Defy said House & Home would give us a new fridge but test it before delivery,” Ms Morton said.

House & Home delivered a new fridge-freezer with one motor in January 2015 and in April when the two-year guarantee/warranty expired, the extended guarantee the Mortons took out came into effect.

In September they noticed the freezer wasn’t working as it should and when they reported it House & Home submitted an insurance claim through their owners, Shoprite.

Defy sent a technician on September 22 2016 and he told the Mortons to defrost the fridge-freezer and he would return the next day to unblock the unit.

They went to see House & Home branch manager Shadley Sadan who told them it now has nothing to do with Defy because the two-year guarantee had expired.

“Your fridge is now in the extended guarantee period where if there is a fault it will be repaired, if however it cannot be repaired, the claim will be put in for a replacement. The extended guarantee covers your fridge until April 2017 and is not covered by supplier guarantee but by the extended guarantee.”

There’s more: emails to Mr T Veldschoen of Defy at Montague Gardens went unanswered as did phone messages. According to the Mortons, he forgot about it and then later told them the claim had been settled. “Really?”

Now the Mortons were really fed-up. “We do not want another Defy unit or a repair. We would like to replace it with another make of fridge and a new warranty to come into effect,” Ms Morton said.

“Please help us with Defy.”

The response from House & Home was short and sweet. “We value our customers and apologise for the inconvenience caused to customer Morton. We have worked with our business partners to resolve the matter and can confirm that a replacement fridge has been arranged for delivery.”

Without any explanation of what happened.

But that’s because Audrey Karp, the managing director of House & Home was away and it was handed to Paul Fairhurst to deal with.

The Mortons confirmed that Mr Fairhurst sent the complaint to Werner Lucas of Defy. “Both were upset about the bad service and lack of follow through. We were told to go to look at fridges and we decided to give Defy another chance and chose their new model fridge DFF419. Mr Veldschoen was instructed to deliver the fridge making sure it was in working order. The fridge has a five-year guarantee and if there are any problems Mr Lucas will replace the fridge with another make. Hopefully this will not be the case. The fridge has been delivered and we will let you know how it is performing. The service from Mr Fairhurst and Mr Lucas has been amazing. They have gone the extra mile,” said Ms Morton, who thanked the two men for their “personal and prompt action”.

The new unit was delivered towards the end of November last year.

So what did go wrong? When I asked Rox-ann Govender, brand communications manager, why it took so long for Defy to resolve the problem, she referred me to the email Ms Morton sent to Mr Fairhurst and Mr Lucas thanking
them. “Defy responded promptly so I am not sure what you are referring to,” she said.