‘My oven exploded and John Lewis won’t do anything about it’

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Sally says: 

You sent me some vivid photos along with your email, showing the shell of the oven and the shattered glass all over your kitchen floor. The lamb joint was still sitting forlornly on the central rack.

The incident had given both you and your carer a serious fright and you rightly wanted to know everything would be sorted out quickly, with the offending oven removed and replaced. You were also concerned that as the weather was getting cooler you were going to be left without an oven to cook.

But you were sorely disappointed at the half-baked response from John Lewis. The lengths to which you were forced to go to persuade the retailer to act quickly on your complaint, and then being shunted from pillar to post and not receiving promised callbacks, had you fuming. I must say that one of the most infuriating situations for customers with a grievance is when they are asked to wait by the phone for a call that never comes.

I contacted John Lewis on your behalf and it immediately expressed concern and pledged to act speedily. There were a few false starts in resolving your case. On the day John Lewis said it was coming to remove the damaged oven, the people who first appeared at your door turned out to be a team from Zanussi, who instead of taking the appliance away, simply replaced the shattered door with an “updated” version. 

You were left perplexed – and even John Lewis did not know why this had occurred. It certainly was not what had been agreed, nor did you simply want a new door on the old oven as you feared there might be another explosion.

However, I am pleased to say that in the end, the oven was finally removed by John Lewis and you have now been refunded the £499 purchase price, as well as the £429 cost of a new oven and hob that you bought to replace it. The firm also paid you £200 for kitchen floor repairs and added £150 as a goodwill gesture. In total you have received £1,277, for which you are extremely grateful.

A John Lewis spokesman said: “We’re so sorry for the customer’s experience. This is certainly not the level of service we strive to provide.”

I asked the company if there were recognised problems with the particular model of oven involved. John Lewis said it had confirmed with Electrolux (which owns the Zanussi brand) that there is no known issue with the appliance, and John Lewis added that it had not received any other complaints about this appliance. It said that yours was “an unfortunate but isolated incident”. The model is no longer available to buy from John Lewis, but this, it assured me, was related to stock levels and not due to any safety issues.

You thanked me enthusiastically for my intervention and, despite John Lewis being “useless” when you first reported the incident, you said you were pleased it “came up trumps in the end”.

According to consumer group Which?, if there is a guarantee or warranty on an appliance, it can be tempting to make a claim directly with the manufacturer when a product goes wrong, especially if it has caused additional damage, as in your case. But the organisation recommends customers always deal with the retailer in the first instance. 

This is because stores selling a product that turns out not to be fit for purpose are in breach of the Consumer Rights Act. This means they must offer a full refund if the product goes wrong within 30 days of purchase – and if it happens after 30 days, as in your case, they should offer a repair or replacement, or failing that, a full refund.

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