Monday, March 15, 2010

I thank you, IFB, but with a looong sigh...!

Now, where shall I start this story of my struggle with the IFB company to just change a repaired switch in my washing machine, which took them more than 40 days, instead of 24 hours?!

A few months back, I had complained to the IFB about the loose contact of the programming switch, in my washing machine. I had to manually push it to the next step of washing. Sometimes some funny 'dud dud' sound was also coming from it. The next day, a technician came from their local service center and said that the timer in the machine and some two other parts needed to be changed. It would be in my advantage if I took an 'AMC' - annual maintenance contract, with them. All these parts were covered in it and I need not pay the service charges too. We agreed and signed the AMC. He said that he could fix the parts after 45 days of the signing of the contract. He pulled some wire and fixed the switch for the time being and said that the machine would work for sometime without any problem. I paid Rs. 2,173 for the maintenance and Rs. 1,800 for a bottle of water purifier, which he said was good for the machine because our water was slightly salty.

The machine was working fine and I forgot to call them back to fix the timer. The technician had pulled some wire for fixing it temporarily and because of that, the 'rinse hold' button was not working, which was not a big problem.

Then, in January, I thought that before the AMC expires in June, it was better to fix the timer and the 'rinse hold' button, which they had said were covered under AMC. Then the problem started.

I complained on 27th Jan.'10 to their customer care no. The female repeated the complaint - washing machine, Senator Aqua-energie and I corrected my address also, which had been recorded wrongly (even after this correction, whenever I gave a complaint, which must have been nearly 10 to 12 times, the wrong address was in their record - call centers, huh!). The next day a person called from the service center asking which type of 'micro-wave' I had and what the problem was with the gadget! I said that I had IFB micro-wave, but it was working fine! He said that he was asked to fix the micro-wave in our house and not the washing machine! He asked me to complain again! Call centers, huh!

It was done again on 30th Jan.'10. After many queries from the service center, a technician came, checked and said that he would come the next day. After repeated complaints, a person came and after checking the machine again, concluded that the timer he had brought was of a different type! Again after repeated reminders, a technician came and changed the timer and switch. When he came the machine was half way through a wash cycle. He had stopped it and fixed the timer and then switched it on. He took my signature for 'the satisfactory completion' of the problem and left. Within a minute or two, a big sound came from the machine and fumes started coming from the back of the machine. I switched the main switch off and called the technician back. He said that he would go and send a senior technician to fix it. This was on 17th Feb.'10. A technician came and declared that the PCB board had got burnt and since they didn't have it in stock, he would come when he got it.

Then the row of our complaints to their service centers went to dead ears. Somebody said that the complaint was 'closed'! Then some 2 persons came and just 'checked' without opening the machine and asked me to sign a paper where it said that the 'problem was solved to my satisfaction'! When I asked why I should do that, he said that if the current complaint was closed and a new complaint was given, the problem would be solved within 24 hours. The bottom-line was they would ask me to pay for the new PCB board (around Rs.2000, it seems), which got burnt because of their mistake in fixing the timer. I came to know it later on that the wires were connected wrongly. Obviously, I didn't sign their paper.

Then we contacted their Head Office and after repeated complaints, they sent some technicians on 12th March, '10 and fixed the PCB board and now, the machine is working fine. Our complaint had reached upto the director level, I was told. The franchisee for the local service center was sacked too.

Huh, this post has become very long! Even now, my next washing machine would only be IFB , the current one is 8 years' old with not a single complaint before this one. A technician said that this machine does not need AMC at all, because very rarely they attend complaints for this particular brand esp. IFB Senator.

I came across a work sheet of a technician which he had dropped near the machine, it said 'senorita' instead of 'senator' center's mistake or the service center's!

The lesson I learnt from this episode is 'Do not go for AMC for gadgets of reputed brands, just pay for the parts or exchange for a new one!' My machine was working fine even before changing the timer, so, I feel the service center had asked me to go in for an AMC, saying that this expensive part had to be changed, which was not necessary, just for getting the AMC money. Hope the IFB Company will look into these flaws in their 'after sales service' facility, they are offering, while selling their machines.

Edited to add at 9.35 pm.:

When the 2 technicians came and 'checked' the machine and asked me to sign the 'job completed' form, the conversation went like this:

Tech.: Do you have an AMC?

Me: Yes, till coming June.

Tech.: Why don't you renew it now itself, because the company is going to hike the charge by Rs.600/-after June (exactly June!)!

The machine is under repair and they are not bothered to make it work within the stipulated time of 24 hours, they are worried about the AMC renewal for the dormant machine!

I have written a complaint with all these points to their Head Office, too.


R. Ramesh said...

apppppaaaaaa..what an, wash it off your mind and take a break..:)

Sandhya said...

Ramesh: Sure, Ramesh, thank you!!!

Deepa said...

Harrowing story Sandhya. I have experienced versions of this with so many service providers. Tata Indicom. I used to live in Ahmedabad and had applied for a phone. I had stressed that since I am a single working woman (which i was at the time), I will not be at home if they come during the day. That they should call before they came. They took 21 days to install the instrument when the advertisement gave guarantee for 1 day!!! Similar stories with changing the battery on our inverter. Some Rs. 3000 spent and unsatisfied with the work. These fellows just promise big and never deliver.

We were pleasantly surprised with BSNL though. Our modem had to be changed. We went to the BSNL office and were greeted politely and explained the procedure. We came home and installed the modem but there was some snafu. We called and the engineer explained over the phone what should be done. Then he came to our home an hour later and checked the installation. Before leaving, he gave us his number and asked us to call if there was any other problem. We were stunned with this level of customer care. It was like 'ulti ganga'!!!

vimmuuu said...

Good that you lodged a complaint. I did the same mistake recently by paying for 2 years AMC for my LG AC. It had a remote control issue and all that I had to do was get a new one. But the stupid that I am spent 2500 to get the maintenance renewed !

There is a site for consumer complaints too. Register your case there too !

Renu said...

what an harrassment..dont let tem get away, persue it.

when will we understand that after sale service is more important than even sale.

Sandhya said...

Deepa: No one bothers about anyone, nowadays, Deepa. They act like machines without any feeling. I had been waiting for these technicians on so many days. I was reluctant to go out. Half the time, they never bothered to call before knocking at our door.

BSNL seems to be good, but depends upon the individuals, I think. Very rarely we come across polite people, nowadays.

Vimmuuu: We just don't know whom to believe, nowadays. They talk nicely to get money from us, period.

The IFB Head office people were nice and efficient and as soon as they came to know about our problem, they rectified it immediately. I had given a written complaint about their service people and that is enough for now, I feel.

Renu: My machine is working now and the written complaint to their H.O. is enough for now, I think, Renu.

BK Chowla, said...

I am sure you would be doing what is best for you. In my experience, it pays to be active and you may want to contact AWAAZ @ CNBCawaaz.

Sandhya said...

BK Chowla: Thank you, Chowlaji, for the tip. At present the machine is working and the IFB H.O. reacted very fast and fixed it. The service centres were the worst. I have written to them about my experience in detail and I am sure they will take action.

R. Ramesh said...

nanri nanri nanri:)

SG said...

This is rediculous. And, the technician has to "pull wires" to do something for which you are paying? And it took more than 40 days. I would go online with this type of service.

Please read my post titled "Customer Service" dated December 15, 2009. You read all my posts but somehow missed this one. Next time, you may want to try my approach.

indianhomemaker said...

This was one harrowing experience! I think we have all faced such problems with some brand or other, and only with repeated complains to the senior officials do we get any problems solved.

My address with reliance Communications is still one I had in Bombay in 2003. No amount of complaints and visits and reassurances have changed it. Just how do they work???

I agree about AMCs - once you have paid nobody attends to your problems, so I never even consider AMCs. It's better to pay as and when a problem arises.

I think we should all blog about such issues to let other readers know from our experiences how best to handle these.

Sandhya said...

SG: Read your post, just now. I had given a written complaint to them with all the details of how I was harassed by the service centres.

Thanks for the suggestion, SG.

IHM: Now, the word 'AMC' is an allergic word for me!

Yes, we have to blog about these things so that others will think twice before paying for an AMC. We should complain to the higher authorities within a couple of days, unlike us - we waited for a long time.

Babli said...

In my opinion, after sales services plays a vital role. Just by buying a product doesn't gets over. But everytime I have also faced lot of problem as sales service is very very poor. I felt very bad that you have faced with such a bad situation.

R. Ramesh said...

hey friend..u did the right thing by greeting that man with u....and proud to be yr friend..:)

kanagu said...

This is heights.... they generally do like that.... each guy will come and say this is the best for us... which is not the case.... :( :(

glad that it got rectified and you have lodged a complaint...

radha said...

Eureka Forbes also is as bad. Their ads show exactly the opposite!

Roshmi Sinha said...

All the best!

Solilo said...

Oh dear! that's one harrowing experience.

These people don't care about customer service these days.

Hugs Sandhya!

kavita said...

I had a similar experience with WHIRLPOOL people and their products were also sub standard.For few years i spent unnecessarily on AMCs,now if i need a fix,i pay right there and then.
Sandhya,i hope and wish that you don't have to suffer any such experience again ...have a nice day.

Sandhya said...

Babli: Whenever we buy a gadget we are particular to enquire about the after sales service and if it is nearby our area. We try to buy the gadgets from the shop which is near our area too, for this reason. Anyway, this is a lesson for us.

Thank you, Babli.

Ramesh: Thank you.

Kanagu: I think the IFB will keep an eye on their service centres after complaints like ours.

Radha: I heard so, Radha. I have got an Eureka Forbes vacuum cleaner!

Roshmi Sinha: Thank you, Roshmi!

Solilo: Thank you, Solilo!

Kavita: We thought that the W.Machine is 8 years old and taking AMC is a good idea! We will never do it again...your idea is the best, Kavita!

Ashwini Sriram said...

Haha! :) that was really funny maami!

The weird "dud dud" sound from your machine and your experience with the call cntrs! :)

R. Ramesh said...


destinationinfinity said...

There is a problem in not taking the AMC too - For my laptop, which was not in AMC, the motherboard stopped working and they were demanding 13000 rupees for a new motherboard! Since it was compaq branded, I was not able to buy any other brand and fix it either! Then they suggested that I rather go for AMC for 8000 Rupees!! for that old laptop. I thought enough was enough and bought a new Toshiba laptop instead. We may need to pay more to get a better product, but they will run without problems for longer time. And yes, I am also having IFB washing machine, and it is running without problems for the last one and a half years.

Destination Infinity

Sandhya said...

Ashwini: The call centre people are like machines. They talk like parrots. Senorita for Senator...huh!

Destination Infinity: Same thing happened to my niece's husband. His HCL motherboard stopped working. He gave it to the HCL people, they asked for Rs.16,000/-! He too didn't agree for the AMC! Everyone seems to be running away from AMC!

IFB washing machine is THE best, I claim even now! My relatives also have it. No problem at IHM also says, if our machine has got some problem, it is better to pay and get it done. AMC is tabooooo!

By the way, nice seeing you here!

R. Ramesh said...

oh ungalaukkum neelam than pidikuma? vallah...i like blue as well whitish green..i was supposed to visit in May yar chennai.but seems may not work as elder daughter struggling for mba admission in IT...missed meeting u guys last visit..hope one day u al make it here..

Swaram said...

Hv been thru this one Sandhya. Once, when we relocated, they took about 15 days to reinstall the machine again and kept saying that they had come home every single day but found it locked .. this is after shouting in their ears 100 times that we r nt home on weekdays. Gud that u lodged a complaint.

Sandhya said...

Ramesh: All the best to your daughter Ramesh!

Swaram: They behave like machines, Swaram. They look at us without expression, never respond, if we say something to them.

manjujoglekar said...

Wow! Just saw this post- what a terrible experience!

Really, after-sales service is far more important than the feature any machine has!

R. Ramesh said...

S thanks ya..staying alone in a foreign land..with no one to help us..sometimes negative stares in our face..but then am motivating myself yar...some bad news on phone is enf to spoil our day here..but thats how life is for expats...anywy..thanks again for yr kind words friend..ungaludaiya kudumbathirkum nal vazhthukkal..

Aparna said...

I have an AMC for my water purifier and my chimney.
Every time I have a problem with these, I end up totally stressed out. Once for my water purifier, I had to wait for almost 15 days. 15 days of boiling water and then cooling it for drinking. Imagine the fuel I wasted.
I am glad your machine is working again. This must have been such a torture.

Sandhya said...

Manju: You are right, Manju! After sales service is very important than other features in any gadget. Already we have got the habit of checking about the after sales service, now, we will give it still more importance.

Ramesh: I can understand your situation, Ramesh. You have got a strong minded wife and good affectionate daughters. You need not worry about anything. God bless you and your family.

Aparna: Yes, Aparna. Your experience is worse than mine. At least, we have a servant maid. I just piled up the bedsheets etc. and washed them after the machine started working again.

This is the first time I faced this much problem. Normally, we go for AMC after the gadget is 5 years old. They seemed to attend to the complaint within 24 hours. Hmmm, we will think twice to take AMC hereafter.

Indyeah said...

Sandhya....we have faced the exact same problem with IFB regarding our washing machine...we couldn't even get anyone to visit the home!

They kept putting it now the 'official' (or supposed to be) technician for IFB comes to our home in an unofficial capacity.
Go figure!:|

I wish after sales service in India was good. Its shoddy to say the least.
My experience with LG has been the most pathetic and I cant even describe how much!

Indyeah said...

I agree with you Sandhya. ALl said and done..IFB washing machine is the best. We have the front loader. Can take a heavy sturdy and has given problems just twice (minor ones) in very many years.

Sandhya said...

indyeah: My washing machine also had only a minor problem initially and it was the first in 8 years. Yes, as you say, this is the best one. Only if they took some steps to give importance to the 'after sales service', nothing can beat them.

My LG fridge had problems thrice in 3 years! Will not go for it again!

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