Fault in microwave post-warranty period

The post by @AussieM on 2 April 2023 about his experience with an Aldi ebike has prompted me to seek guidance from this forum.

I have a 25-month old Panasonic inverter microwave, which was purchased from Costco with a 12-month warranty.

Two weeks ago, I informed Panasonic Customer Care Centre of the fault the microwave had developed within the previous 6-8 weeks. When programed and started, the microwave would click then display COOL in the display window. I have to open and slam the door a number of times before the Cool cycle starts and finishes. Only then, after a few more attempts, I could start the selected cook program.

Having provided some details about the microwave, Panasonic provided the following email response:

"…In order to assist you, we need to have a clear understanding of the fault. The product will need to be assessed by a Panasonic Authorised Service Centre.

If the fault is a manufacturing defect, the cost of the assessment will be covered by Panasonic. Panasonic will then determine from the assessment how we may be able to assist you further. Should the assessment indicate that the problem is not due to a manufacturing defect you will need to cover the cost of the assessment and any repair costs should you wish to proceed.

Please let me know your decision and as required, I can provide you with an Authorised Service Centre and let them know, that they can expect your visit regarding the assessment."

How compliant is Panasonic’s approach with the Australian Consumer Laws?

Twenty five months is not a reasonable life of a microwave. Does it worth the while to proceed and take the chance that I may not be out of pocket substantially? In my initial conversation with the Customer Care Centre, I was told that the microwave was out of warranty and was uneconomical to repair.

What are other options I should consider?

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Their approach is compliant and consistent with the Australian Consumer Law.

The consumer guarantee doesn’t cover every fault, such as damage caused by a product owner or an event (e.g. lightning strike/power surge), misuse of the product or products which aren’t maintained appropriately.

Panasonic plans to determine what caused the fault by carrying out an assessment. If the fault is their responsibility, then they will resolve under the ACL (at no cost to you). If the damage sits outside the consumer guarantees, then the cost of assessment and repairs (if possible) will be your responsibility. Their approach seems reasonable and common across many appliance companies.

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Thanks for the clarification @phb. I assume I’ll have to bear the cost of return postage of the microwave to the service centre, if it located interstate.

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If the fault is not covered by the Australian Consumer Guarantee, then yes.

If the fault is covered by the Australian Consumer Guarantee, this is less clear as the ACCC states:

If faulty goods have to be returned to the place where they were bought, it is reasonable for the seller to pay appropriate freight costs.

It could be assumed that if Panasonic want you to send the product to a authorised service centre, then they should cover costs for freight where a fault falls under the Australian Consumer Law.

The alternative option is to see if you can return the product to Costco for them to manage. However, you may still up for freight and assessment costs if the fault is outside the ACL.

I would be surprised that you would need to send the microwave interstate as Panasonic should have service agents in capital cities and larger population centres.

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Panasonic will have an authorised service place near you. They are a big brand name, possibly the number one in microwave ovens.
If you can drive it to that place, it will save a callout charge.

BTW. The cool cycle is designed to cool the oven down after cooking. Have you tried just leaving the door open for a while rather than slamming it shut a few times, which may cause other issues. After using my microwave I always leave the door open for a while to let it cool off. And it is a panasonic, now over 20 years old and still going strong.

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I have a current issue with a product from DJ’s. They sent me a mailing label. As for the rest of the process it resembles yours - they will evaluate the product and respond. Not being electronic there is no worry about being charged an evaluation fee if they deem ‘not a problem’.

However it is easy for a consumer to think they are being fobbed off when it is ‘not our problem’ please pay, when evaluated. The issue is not only product, ACL, and warranty, but basic trust in an honest and thorough inspection. Based on anecdotal reports it is not surprising people are sceptical of being told to send their product and possibly pay (say) $100 when they might otherwise bin it to cut their loses.

The symptom is addressed but not always the underlying problem. In other cases how does a company assess a broken screen from misuse as compared to improper original assembly putting improper stress on it? Or clothes that excessively shrunk (say 10%) – was it the fabric or improper care?

Some companies seem to err on the consumer’s side and others on their own. A lotto when one elects to play the game for anything not very clear cut.

Keep records and assuming your problem is warrantable they should pay shipping costs.

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The ACL is clear on the cost of transport/postage for goods covered by the repair, refund, replace rules.

“If the business confirms that the product does have a problem, it must reimburse the consumer for any reasonable return costs they have already paid. Consumers should keep receipts for postage or transport costs so that they can be repaid by the business”

The return back to the customer is covered by the business after the fix. Of course, if not a fault they are responsible for, then the customer bears the cost.

If a consumer returns the product to the repair place in their car, then the reasonable cost of doing so would be reimbursed if the product does have a fault that is covered by ACL. This would probably be based on the kilometres travelled by the shortest economical/practical route and using the ATO basis for kilometres would be a hard to argue against basis, for calculating the cost.

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Reasonable cost might be limited to that of the cost of the brand or retailer’s preferred courier service? Likely less in our instance if the service centre is 180km round trip to Brisbane.

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Then they should provide a return label if they do not want to incur the customer’s cost. If there is no fault that is covered by ACL, they can charge the cost they incurred on the customers behalf. If they leave it to the customer, then the customer has no way to avail themselves of any company deal and so the company must pay the customer’s reasonable cost.

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I have had a Flatbed Panasonic 27L Microwave Model(NNSF564WQPQ) since16/02/21. It performs exactly as the complainant states. It has been doing this on first use in the morning as well as any other time during the day.
I have the same dilemma as the claimant, cost of repair or replacement. It seem the problem is one of manufacture.

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Hi @Tod, welcome to the community and posting that your Panasonic microwave also has a similar fault to that of @audlin.

It would be interesting is @audlin could also post the model of the microwave that they have.

If it is the same model or a model with similar circuit control boards, it may be a manufacturing quality issue if it is a common fault with Panasonic microwaves. If it a more common fault, this could be used to substantiate a claim under the Australian Consumer Law with Panasonic or the retailer one bought the microwave from.

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My model is the exact model @Tod mentioned.

As an update I indicated to Panasonic that I wish to proceed with the assessment. I am still waiting on a response.

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Let them know on the assessment you are aware of the fault being present in other Panasonic microwave ovens of the same model. This hopefully will assist you and work in your favour.

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Hope is not too late, few things …

  1. ACCC consumer rules/laws in the context of you and the retailer, not the manufacturer.
  2. Under Australian Consumer law the manufacturer guarantee does not override the ACL
  3. Costco is awesome with returns and often anyway will happily take a return way past the “manufacturer guarantee”. I suggest going to them first.
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Hello forum members, this is an update on my microwave issue. The Authorised Service Centre has completed their assessment. Panasonic will cover the full cost for the Service Centre to repair and re-align the interlock of the microwave door. Thank you very much for your insights.

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Good result. Hope you have many more years use of the oven after the manufacturing defect is corrected.

Good to know this before I pull the trigger on one of these. I had the more expensive model with a grill which died earlier this year, when its lights went out and nothing would work after that. I decided to just cut my losses because panasonic had been less than helpful with a camera I had bought years back (again, loss cutting).