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When a consumer product is defective and the manufacturer won’t help, I ask the retailer to step in.
This did the trick for Verna Harrison and Don Dolson, whose Oreck air purifier stopped working after two years.
The Truman Cell, the air purifier’s key component, had a three-year warranty. So, when the cell started to arc constantly, they shipped it to the manufacturer’s Winnipeg office.
“We have not heard from Oreck since we sent it on Dec. 5,” Harrison told me in February.
“We made 12 to 15 calls and all we got was a message that says ‘All our operators are busy with other customers. Please leave your phone number and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.’ There was no response.”
When I didn’t get around to reaching Oreck Manufacturing Co., she sent me a reminder and said she had bought the product at a Canadian Tire store northeast of Toronto.
Stephanie Nadalin, a spokeperson for the chain, reached out to the dealer in Uxbridge (northeast of Toronto).
“He wanted to make things right for the customer, even though the issue lies with the manufacturer,” Nadalin said.
“It turns out that the product is discontinued. He would like to offer a new unit (comparable) absolutely free.”
The couple visited their local Canadian Tire store to pick up their new air purifier two days later.
“After months of not being able to connect with Oreck, our last resort was to email you,” Harrison said. “We appreciate your help. The store made sure we were satisfied.”
While I rarely hear from Apple customers, I received a recent complaint about Jacob Thielmann’s tablet problems.
“Four years ago, Dad purchased an iPad Mini, 64 GB model, from Best Buy,” said his son-in-law Bob Romanuk. “No one is disputing that the device was out of warranty.”
Last August, Thielmann found the unit would not hold a charge for 24 hours, even when not in use. Then, it wouldn’t start.
His son-in-law took the iPad to an Apple repair centre, which processed a replacement order. It cost $ 260 to send the iPad back and get a new model within three days.
Things were great until October, when the problem recurred. This time, the repair centre charged $ 33 to test the battery and charging system, only to insist that nothing was wrong.
“I took it to our nearest Apple store,” Romanuk said. “The rep performed some diagnostics and immediately provided me with a replacement.”
The second replacement had a 90-day warranty. After 75 days, the iPad again was failing to hold a charge.
Romanuk drove back to the Apple store, where another rep advised doing a complete reset. It didn’t work.
“The iPad continues to be unable to hold a charge. We even removed the mail app, as we were told that Gmail might be sucking juice in the background.”
The warranty ended Jan. 14, but Apple said Thielmann would be covered because he had reported the problem during the 90-day period.
Relief was followed by disappointment when Apple requested payment for a third replacement.
In a live chat, an Apple senior adviser promised to send a refurbished unit to Thielmann once he returned his faulty iPad.
“Nothing has been received,” Romanuk said three weeks later. “It is not easy for my father-in-law to get around and typing is a challenge. Being without an iPad is also a great inconvenience.”
Apple Canada spokesperson Tara Hendela thanked me for sending the complaint. Within days, Apple called from San Jose, Calif., and sent a new iPad.
“The actions of Apple’s representatives restored our faith in the company,” Romanuk said. “Jacob and I received what can only be described as exemplary treatment.”
Apple, a manufacturer, started its chain of stores in 2001. Founder Steve Jobs was inspired by the service provided by a Canadian company, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.
I’m keen to hear from readers. Have you tried Apple’s customer service? Where does it excel? Where does it slip up? I’ll report on your views in an upcoming column.
Ellen Roseman appears in Smart Money. You can reach her at email@example.com .