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Washing machine stank

My 11 month old Simpson 7kg
front load washing machine smelled like something had died in it. For over a 2 months I was arguing with my manager that our there was something wrong with our sewage system because it smelt so bad when the whole time it was our washing machine. We called out one plumber when I threatened to use my rent to do it and another when water started flooding the laundry. Simpson replaced the machine after many emails and claimed they had run out of 7kg washers so had to replace it with a 8kg (which sounds completely different leading me to believe the machine was faulty from the beginning). They are refusing to pay for the plumbers even though they admit they could be covered under the consumer Law but state it’s a grey area. The plumbers cost half what the machine was worth. This was not just a bad smell. My cat is now allergic to all cat food but hyperallergic food. My migraines doubled and we had to spend all our time upstairs in the bedrooms to get away from the stench. it was revolting. When I turned on my machine and stood there with the plumber I was literally sick for four days with stomach cramps, migraines etc. I won’t go into the gory details! I can’t believe with all the evidence I have provided Simpson they will not pay for 2 plumbers. This company makes millions every year and they won’t shell out $360 for plumbers when their machines are faulty! I am taking them to fair trading, and the ombudsman. Is there anything else I can do?

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I’ll assume in that time you had gone through all the treatments that normally address washing machine stench with no improvement. If you did all of the ‘above’ I agree one would not necessarily stop at the washing machine as being the cause.

But did you ‘sample’ the stench or lack thereof from other drains (vanity, sink, tub) or just conclude it had to be the building sewer system, or did you consider it could have been the drain between the washing machine and the rest of the sewer, the latter usually quite easy to investigate and clear.

As I posted in another thread we had a dryer fail just on 3-years but no similar replacement from that manufacturer so they gave a full refund. Since that model was out of production and there were either no spares or it was not designed for repair in the first instance, I would not make the leap it was a faulty product from the beginning. Things break for many reasons.

I presume the first plumber found nothing amiss so you had to pay rather than the management paying? When the laundry flooded what caused you to ring a plumber rather than to see where the water was coming from and turn its water connection off?

Not being privy to everything you did or the communications between you, the manager, your plumber and Simpson’s I’ll take what you posted and focus on

It is difficult to attribute such things to the stench in a legal proceeding, especially if you do not have notes with the time and date and effects as evidence or documented medical history.

A thought is that if you have been working through Simpson customer service, go the next step and lodge a formal complaint using the ACL complaint template. Be care to stay dispassionate and accept you need to stay with demonstrable or supportable facts not what can be attributed to personal opinion about cause and effects that devolves into a she-said-they-said back and forth.

It depends whether they accept they are legally liable. Companies make decisions more often on any precedent it might set rather than the particular case. Their P/L is irrelevant. If they pay for your plumbers they could easily become legally obligated to pay for everybody’s plumbers in future where a Simpson washing machine was involved, regardless of the particular fault being contributory or not.

In your letter of complaint state all the steps you took to address the stench prior to calling in a plumber, why you called in the second plumber referencing why when it was apparently the machine flooding your laundry not the plumbing, and when that occurred re the stench building up. Assuming your claim still makes sense as you read what you have so far written, you might ask what else you could have reasonably done (assuming nothing comes to mind), and state what you want from them and by when. It might assist if you frame it as ‘customer relationship’ rather than liability, but would equally be wise not to state they may not be liable since you stated

This page from the ACL should be helpful if you have not already read it, noting the grey area is addressed in What is Not Covered. Your plumbing bills are incidental but have a read of this ACL page per

Damages include the cost caused to the consumer as a result of the problem with the product or service. This is usually financial, such as costs of repairing damaged carpets as a result of a faulty leaking washing machine, inspection and transportation. It can also include lost time or productivity.

You do not have to pay for damages or losses that:

  • are not caused by your business or the goods you supplied*
  • relate to something independent of your business and outside your control, after the goods left your control.*

so it looks like you have valid arguments to ‘hang your hat on’ in seeking compensation.

Let us know how it goes, and good luck with it.

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Ok I called the second plumber when the washing machine flooded. However, at the time I didn’t realise it was the washing machine. I didn’t know what was causing the flooding. The machine was on and I walked out of the laundry walked back in a few minutes later and there was water everywhere. In our small laundry we also have a toilet etc so the water could have been coming from plumbing from there or the sink. I couldn’t tell where the water came from because its a small area and it was already flooded. I turned off all the areas that had water connections and rang my manager to get someone out to check it. She called a plumber.
In the end I called the ACCC. They gave me legal advice and told me that The Good Guys as the sellers of the machine were responsible for paying for the plumbers and also any damages. They also would have been responsible for a new machine or refunding my money if Electrolux hadn’t. I think the main thing to be wary of is not just that these companies can be difficult to get money out of, but that I was told over the phone by one plumber that my drains needed to be cleaned. And that’s what it smelled like. The smell was so bad it smelt like when our sink was unclogged. It did not smell like a washing machine. I don’t want people paying for expensive plumbing when their washing machine may be to blame. If more than my machine has this problem I feel they should be recalled. They could also be a health risk. I got sick for four days after standing in the smell with the plumber.

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Where did the plumber indicate the water came from…

  • was it a blocked drain/pipe which when the washing machine pumped water out causing the drain to fill then overflow. If this is the case, while the washing machine pumping water out caused the floor to flood, the blocked laundry drain is the problem and not the washing machine. An overflowing blocked drain can have a terrible odour. You will be responsible for unblocking the drain pipe.
  • was the hose on the wahing machine damaged or faulty did water leak from anotger part of the machine which caused water to be released from this hose when the washing machine pumped the water out? If this is the case then the washing machine is at fault. Simpson/Good Guys will be responsible for providing a resolution under the Australian Consumer Law, providing that the problem with the machine was not due to misuse or accidential damaged caused through its use in your home.

Before you called a plumber, did you contact the Good Guys or Electrolux to determine the process to identify the issue and determine its cause? It is slways best to check with them before engaging trade services to ensure they will cover any costs incurred if it is a problem with a consumer product. GG/Electrolux are likely to say that they won’t pay for such costs if the problem was not caused by their product, such as a blocked drain even though the flooding occurred when the washing machine pumped water out.

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