CHOICE membership

Process for lodging a complaint under ACL

I have had a poke around on the site - hoping not to start an unnecessary thread - but haven’t found what I need…
How do I escalate a consumer complaint?

It relates to a $80 online purchase of two ceramic knife sets (one white handled, the other black) from a WA website - “where quality meets precision”. And from the FB page “About”
'The A Ceramic K Company ’sets the standard for top quality ceramic knives’.

The white set was gifted, just before Christmas, as a housewarming present.This set’s small knife came apart, a couple of weeks later, when doing the dishes. I received a (grudging “send it back to us” & “we’ll take a look at it and decide on a replacement”) email from the vendors.
When it arrived, the colour did not match - a bright white, compared to the ivory colour of the original set, plus the material of the handle was not smooth (felt rough & ‘sticky’, even after cleaning… (the attached photo is much clearer on my phone, than on my aging PC…).

So - I communicated my dissatisfaction via email, politely requesting a refund/replacement: mentioning that the original knife handles were discolouring (due to absorption of carotenoids from vegetables) and I wouldn’t have purchased white knives if I knew this might happen; also mentioning I am a member of CHOICE…
Here are the emails - (partially redacted, removing most identifiers)

> On 20 Jan 2020, at 7:42 am, Patricia Evans wrote:
> The knife was in my letter box on Friday - thank you. I was away, but gave it to Chris & Karla yesterday. It is not satisfactory. The handle was dirty, and sticky to the touch (doesn’t feel like the same material as the other knives), and - the colour didn’t match them either!!
> - see attached photos.
> I cleaned the handle, but it still isn’t smooth to touch, unlike the others in the set.
> It has also become apparent that the (original) larger knife handles have become discoloured in less than 4 weeks of use, ie appear to have absorbed colour from cutting & handling pumpkin/carrots/sweet potato etc.
Had I known that this discolouration would occur, I certainly would not have chosen white handles…
> I would appreciate you replacing the complete set, with the black handled version, and supplying me with a return postage label for the unsatisfactory white one, which is not fit for purpose.
> We are both very happy, so far, with the quality of the ceramic blades. I was also pleased to be able to ‘Buy Australian’…
> PS. A friendly suggestion: neither of us like the vegetable peeler… I would have preferred to pay a bit more, and have another knife instead!

"On Tue, 21 Jan. 2020, 10:32 am The Australian C K Co wrote:
(Where Quality Meets Precision)

Hi Patricia
Sorry to hear that you are not happy with a few aspects of your purchase. As you know knife sets can cost into the thousands of dollars. You have bought a cheap set of knives for $40, a cheap set that will, if looked after, out perform a really expensive set. You have what you paid for. We even replaced one of your knives free of charge, taking your word that it ‘just broke’. If you would like to purchase a black handled set please let us know?

Regards
Dave

*Patricia Evans |![Attachments] 21 Jan 2020, 11:28 *

This response is not acceptable to me. I purchased 2 sets of these knives from you, in good faith - one set has proven not to be satisfactory.

Your website clearly states that “products are of high quality” and “we want our customers to be happy with their purchase”… AND “certainly any problem developing within 30 days will be corrected by us”…

This seems very clear to me: I requested a refund or replacement for one of the sets I purchased, because I am not happy, and there are problems.

Further to your reply, the issue of the small knife: you didn’t only ‘accept my word’ , that “it just broke”. You required that I post the knife back to you - the knife that ‘came apart’ (as I described the damage in my original email), when washing the dishes. I also provided photographs.

And because I had cut myself quite deeply on one of my own set, when washing dishes, I warned Chris & Karla to be careful, when I gave them their set. They instituted a practice of washing the ceramic knives first, to avoid the potential problem… The knife you sent as a replacement does NOT match the existing set of knives, and is not acceptable either.

Regardless of what limited warranty you have on your website, Australian consumer laws cover replacement/refund for faulty and/or unfit for purpose products. I am a member of CHOICE, and am well aware of my consumer rights.

I have clearly communicated the problems found with one of the knife sets, to you: again I request a full refund, or a replacement, of the unsatisfactory knife set, plus a post paid label to return the originals to you.

There has been no further communication from the company, so - what steps do I take next? I am aware that it is not an expensive purchase, but I am not satisfied with the product, and wish to pursue my consumer rights…

6 Likes

You appear to have a good grasp so far. I suggest sending them a formal 'Letter of Complaint’ that includes everything you have posted above put into the required format. Be sure to include all the required bits as explained on the ACCC pages.

A salient point is you appear to have 2 identical sets excepting the colour but only one has faults, suggesting one may be of inferior quality for whatever reason.

Make sure your letter is receipted and consider visibly sending a copy to your state fair trading (ACCC agency).

Good luck getting it sorted and let us know how you go.

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To add to what Phil (@TheBBG) said, go to the Choice website & download the email complaint for a major fault.

The original fault, when the knife came apart is a MAJOR fault. Please have a look at: Replacements and Refunds, What is a Major Fault? at ACCC: Repair, replace, refund.

Also just below there cite the section on “Returning the product” where it says you are entitled to recover reasonable costs.

On a side note, I have a ceramic knife with a black soft grip handle. After a couple of year the handle became sticky and will not come clean. I have tried many things to clean it, but have not found anything that works. From this it is not difficult to extrapolate that you may have been sent old stock which could also explain the discolouration from brilliant white to off white.

This time, also add that Choice is interested in your issue and is following the matter.

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Thank you for the extra support. It seems to be a reasonably minor complaint, and one that could have been simply fixed…

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Agreed. It’s more about the principle; and if the business such as this won’t fix minor problems efficiently, effectively, and with good cheer, what does that indicate about how they are likely to handle major problems?

This is why it is worth pursuing, not just for yourself, but on behalf of other consumers who aren’t as aware of the ACL.

So on behalf of the less knowledgeable masses… thank you. :slight_smile:

3 Likes