Store fails to play by the game

Jenna Solomon’s mother, Beulah Marks, bought her a Hisense washing machine
(R3 999) from Game Canal Walk on Black Friday (November 29) where she also bought a fridge.

Within a week the coating on the washing machine had begun peeling in one place, the Rondebosch resident said.

“We informed Game on December 4 last year and our fear is that this will expose the machine to premature rusting. We have yet to receive a replacement,” Ms Solomon said.

Ms Marks, of Newlands, thought she bought it at the store but it turned out to be an online purchase which is governed by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA) and is part of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

The attitude of Game online support agents was far from helpful. They kept asking for pictures which Ms Solomon said they had sent more than once.

Ms Solomon sent the pictures of the washing machine showing the peeling paintwork. Then a month later the call centre agents asked if they had been sent. Then came another email,

“Just following up to confirm if the pictures requested were sent?”. Which shows that the call centre agents do not talk to each other, nor do the systems.

The agent apologised for the delay in having the matter resolved. They said the Hisense service centre wanted more pictures of the paint peeling off to send to head office for assessment as the picture sent was a bit blurry.

The Hisense service centre, also sent this request: “Kindly forward us pictures of the box the washing machine was in
from all angles as well as of the washing machine of all (sic) angles in order for us to escalate the matter for investigation
and a resolution as soon as possible.”

That “soon as possible” turned out to be nearly two months.

Said Game online support, ”Once you send it, I will take it up with them.”

Ms Marks bought the washing machine from Game, not Hisense, and after seeing pictures again Game should have replaced it and then taken up the matter with the manufacturer.

Under the CPA big ticket items can be sent for evaluation.

However, it is the consumer’s decision whether they want it repaired, replaced or their money back. The call centre could have asked Hisense (the factory is in Atlantis, to assess it). But that’s going off script.

“This delay in replacing the damaged machine which we are paying for in instalments is unacceptable. The pictures were sent the first time they were requested. It is totally unreasonable to take a month and then to say, ‘Oh, no, we want other pictures’. We have followed policy and are not to blame for this unreasonable delay. It is outrageous that, on top of sending us a damaged machine, you take so long to rectify the mistake (while we are paying for a machine we cannot use). There are now two complaints: the state of the washing machine and the poor customer service. To rectify this, we suggest that you deliver a new washing machine on Wednesday (January 15) with profuse apologies and refund the instalments we have been paying. Or we’ll take it further,” Ms Solomon told Game on January 13.

Game didn’t replace the washing machine so Ms Solomon asked me to intervene.

A few days later Ms Solomon wrote, “Thank you so much, Brian. Game called my mom and then later someone from head office, I think, called to ask if I had received my new washing machine. I said I hadn’t heard from Game since I sent the second round of photos they’d requested. She said she’d sort it out and look into refunding the monthly instalments we’ve been paying. Then someone else from Game, I think his name was Kirk, called and said they’d deliver and collect it.”

Michelle Kemp, Game corporate reputation manager, apologised to Ms Solomon and Ms Marks for the errors.

“We have remedied the situation and replaced the washing machine. Our aim is to always give our customers a wonderful experience. So we are disappointed in ourselves that this happened and are making sure extra steps are put in place to avoid this from happening again.”

However, Ms Kemp didn’t explain what went wrong or what measures they have put in place to stop it happening again.

“I received a new washing machine on Friday (January 31). I have not used it yet but it doesn’t have any outward signs of damage. Thank you for your help. Thanks so much for contacting Game. That’s why they took it seriously which is rather sad,” Ms Solomon said.