Geyser guarantee leaves customer fuming

If you buy a Duratherm, Solartherm or Ecotherm geyser it is highly unlikely that WE Geysers will honour the guarantee, even though their name is on it.

Charles Stevenson installed a Duratherm geyser at his Edgemead complex four years ago because it had a 10-year guarantee, which was a major selling point.

The geyser burst and the agents told the complex manager, twice, they would not honour the guarantee because Ecotherm, the Cape Town company which manufactured it, had been liquidated.

“However, the guarantee was provided by WE Geysers and not Ecotherm,” said Mr Stevenson.

“Many people in the Western Cape have probably bought Duratherm geysers with a WE Geysers guarantee – and it’s not the only brand they supply, so more brand names may be affected. Others may be planning to buy a WE geyser, thanks to that 10-year guarantee. But I don’t think it’s worth anything, so potential customers should be warned,” said Mr Stevenson, who also complained to SESSA (Sustainable Energy Society of Southern Africa) and IOPSA (Institute of Plumbing of SA), of which WE Geysers is reportedly a member.

But he got no response, although his complaint was removed from Iopsa’s Facebook page.

Mr Stevenson sent a lawyer’s letter to WE Geysers of Krugersdorp and got a reply from them saying they were busy with this matter and “would advise shortly”. Mr Stevenson’s lawyer is still waiting.

Meanwhile, Carl Bayhack of Future Comforts told the complex manager that WE Geysers were being taken over by a BEE company and he was fighting WE Geysers on Mr Stevenson’s behalf.

Then there was silence, even though Mr Bayhack, the managing member of Future Comfort CC, in Montague Gardens, promised to speak to Michele at Duratherm and respond to me.

Despite two reminders neither he nor Michele replied.

The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) shows that Future Comforts was registered in 2008, and apart from Mr Bayhack, the other members are Walter Hupertz and Etienne Holder who are also directors of WE Geysers.

Judging by their initials they are likely the owners of WE Geysers.

WE Geysers are known for not honouring their guarantees, according to complaints on Hello Peter, so what is going to happen if one of the many geysers they have installed in the Western Cape, under their name or any of the brands affiliated to them, burst within the guarantee period?

Mr Bayhack replied only after I sent him part of the story I planned to write. But the upshot is WE Geysers will not honour the guarantee. Mr Bayhack said Ecotherm was the supplier of the geyser and had the manufacturing and assembly rights in the Western and Northern Cape, and bought components from WE Geysers.

“Ecotherm was under contract, and had certain obligations, one of them was to honour the 10-year guarantee and they were also responsible to brand the geysers as Ecotherm and not WE Geysers.

Ecotherm failed to honour that part of the agreement,” explained Mr Bayhack who said because of their failure to honour their contractual agreement WE Geysers sued Ecotherm.

They were liquidated in 2013 and WE Geysers were not obligated to take over the warranties of Ecotherm geysers.

“Future Comfort CC, is not affiliated to WE Geysers, even though Etienne Holder and Walter Hupertz are shareholders. We distribute the Solartherm and Duratherm geysers to plumbing merchants in Cape Town. We do the administration and facilitate the work for warranties.

“We are guided by WE Geysers and we are not responsible for honouring the warranty of the geysers,” said Mr Bayhack, who explained that warranties are a complex issue.

The consumer often does not understand the regulations governed by South African National Standards (SANS).

Under certain circumstances, a warranty will be voided if installation is not done according to SANS regulations and the Ts&Cs and if the company is not in existence, among others.

“WE Geysers has honoured many replacements and has also voided replacements due to non-compliance. You will always hear of geysers that were not replaced, but we can give you many cases whereby replacements have been done. Future Comfort had nothing to do with Ecotherm warranties, and WE Geysers have confirmed that they will not honour any warranty where geysers were manufactured by Ecotherm,” Mr Bayhack said.

Clive Gibson, who with Geoff Hull co-wrote Everyone’s Guide to the Consumer Protection Act (Zebra Press), told me that WE Geysers, whose name is on the guarantee, is responsible.

“However, usually the supplier and the manufacturer sort it out between them. Unless it is a grey product, then it’s another story,” he said.

The geyser is a Duratherm but when Mr Stevenson tried to submit a claim under the guarantee, he was told that, “as the serial number begins with a ‘C’, it was manufactured in Cape Town by Ecotherm, but that is not anywhere on the documentation I’ve got”.

Mr Stevenson said that after he climbed into the attic he saw it was a Solartherm, a WE Geysers’ brand.

Mr Bayhack ignored my email asking him to clarify the link between Ecotherm, Solartherm or Duratherm.

So I think WE Geysers or Future Comfort should replace the geyser if only to engender goodwill.

Although Ecotherm went into liquidation, the guarantee is in the name of WE Geysers, whether it’s an Ecotherm, Solartherm or Duratherm.

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