The product was a fridge - the Panasonic 547L PrimeFresh French door. It was just 6 months old, we bought it in December 2018 and it failed in June 2019. To date, we have not received any compensation from Panasonic - yes this is now January 2020.
The “repair” process
Panasonic could not provide a service repairer till that Wednesday 18 June. That was 2 days after and only because we pressed the urgency. The repairer, a
contractor from Panasonic, came and diagnosed the issue on Wednesday 18 June. He said the condenser fan was not working at all.
So the condenser fan is the part that keeps the fridge refrigerated . A reasonable person would consider that this is an
essential part for a refrigerator and such components should immediately, if not readily be available, from a fridge manufacturer.
Well this was not the case with Panasonic, we were told that 1) the warranty claim had to be approved and 2) then the part would be
ordered. I was told by Panasonic that this process would take at least a week.
The service repairer did not have any parts with him or available to him Panasonic.
Panasonic has an obligation to keep spare parts readily available. This is part of the Australian Consumer Law. There is a statutory guarantee that when you purchase a product the manufacturer or importer must provide spare parts and repair facilities for a reasonable time after purchase.
My issues is with:
- the lack of parts availability;
- the time it took to repair; AND
The fact that, given the nature of the defect, an objective person would take the view that this was a “major problem”.
We asked Panasonic to provide a replacement fridge, they said no, we were only entitled to a repair. The repair took 2 weeks. The same fridge was available for same day delivery by Harvey Norman. Panasonic refused - they took no steps to help us mitigate any future loss as a result of the defect. For example, school lunch orders (we have 3 children under 12).
Panasonic’s position has been that we are only entitled to a refund of the value of the items which perishes, They asked me to go back to the place where I shopped and get receipts. From a common sense perspective, people do not always shop in the same place and/or always but their goods at the same time. The Vegemite in my fridge may have been there for 3 months while the chicken was bought the day before. Panasonic said they could not provide a refund without a receipt. They also said they would not provide any compensation for cost incurred as a result of the defect, for example, the cost of buying ice to keep groceries cool.
Their latest position from their customer service manager (as at today) is this:
- no compensation without a receipt for each item that perished; and
- that we should have gone to the retailer for recourse.
Clearly, Panasonic have no understanding of their regulatory obligations. Nor do they have any empathy and clearly no interest in process improvement.