My confidence in local manufacturing, retail and enterprise is shattered.
Last month I made a conscious decision to:
- Buy an Australian-made product, not an import.
- Pay for high quality, instead of going el cheapo.
- Deal with a sole trader, rather than a corporation.
What a FOOL!
I needed a ceiling fan for my small, airless bedroom. I’m a light sleeper, so it had to be SILENT.
The bored, gum-chewing girl at the big lighting chain said Australian-made was the way to go.
But when she compounded her lassitude by yelling a quote from the other end of the store, I decided to deal with someone who cared.
I found a small, specialist fan retailer who confirmed that he had a high-quality, whisper-quiet Australian-made fan with a 100 W light.
I paid him $438. Two days after his promised delivery date, the fan arrived.
I paid a master electrician $195 to install it properly. The light was dimmer than I’d expected, but I put that down to my aging sight.
For ten nights I enjoyed cool, peaceful bliss.
Then the light failed.
Following the manual, I retrieved a blown, 75 W bulb.
I told the retailer, who said:
‘Bulbs that come with all light products are usually not the best quality. Sometimes they last 2 minutes, sometimes 2 years. I’m not sure why a 75 W bulb was sent; it should’ve been a 100 W. If you’d like reimbursement, contact the warranty line. Good luck.’
Opting to cut to the chase, I bought a 100 W bulb from an electrical shop. It cost all of $5.95.
After installing the bulb, I turned the fan on.
It started clicking.
It clicked all through that hot, summer night.
Driving me out of my clicking skull.
I told the manufacturer, who said:
‘I’m happy to send a service agent, but I must inform you of our warranty policy. If the agent finds it’s not a product fault but something caused at installation or done when you changed the bulb, a charge of $85 will apply.’
I argued that, but for the faulty, lower-rated bulb, I needn’t have touched the jolly fan. And that I’d bought a high-quality, Australian-made unit to avoid precisely this kind of drama.
He offered to send a replacement 100 W bulb.
A week later, a poorly packed 75 W bulb arrived, without a note, in two pieces.
After my next email, he escalated the matter to his boss, who said:
‘The rating of the light fitting is 100 W, which is the basis of what is offered for sale. It is a 100 W light fitting. You can fit a 100 W, a 75 W or any lesser value bulb.’
‘This valuable information was not conveyed by either of the fan retailers with which I dealt.
I asked for a ‘100 W light’ and was told I’d get one. I thought ‘light’ meant ‘light fitting plus bulb’. I’m a literal chap, but this distinction escaped me.
During my purchase inquiries, I was assured your brand was a worthy investment in quality. It would’ve been very helpful to know of this bulb phenomenon.
I’d be grateful if you could indicate where this information resides on your website; I didn’t encounter it when researching my purchase.’
Neither the retailer, the manufacturer nor the boss have replied.
Tick ticka tick tick tick …
Ticka ticka tick …
Ticka ticka ticka tick tick ticka … ad libitum.
I know there are good operators out there. But experiences like this destroy their hard work.
I’ve long heard people bemoan the decline of Australian manufacturing.
Lately, we’ve heard retailers are ‘doing it tough’.
And ‘little guys’ are getting squeezed.
After this debacle, I’m not surprised by any of it.
Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire