Response from supplier defies all logic

You can’t rely on Defy. That’s the sentiment of Dieter Stegemann, who bought a Defy (DDW171) dishwasher which he claimed was a fire hazard, in November last year, and other items from Tafelberg Furnishers, Parklands, where the team there “do go the extra mile for their customers”.

The Parklands man said he cleans the outlets in the laundry regularly so he pulls the washing machine and dishwasher forward.

“Although the dishwasher had been working well, I noticed the rear of the machine and the inlet pipe had started to melt.

“We did smell burning occasionally, but couldn’t identify the source.

“I took this up with Tafelberg Furnishers. They spoke to Defy’s customer care department who said this could be normal when the unit is operated at a 70 degree cycle.

“Obviously, I was unhappy but if Defy were aware of the problem why haven’t they fixed it?

“Tafelberg Furnishers did what Defy should have done: they took the item back less a 20% handling fee which I gladly paid, as the unit is a fire risk,” alleged Mr Stegemann, who said the Defy technician that came to his house to inspect the unit told him, “I have never seen this before.”

“Defy doesn’t want to accept responsibility for something on one of their products which is not normal, unless they regard it as normal in that it ‘will’ do this if the intensive 70 degree cycle is used.

“If so, my geyser is set at 60 degrees, this is colder than the 70 degree cycle so it’s a ridiculous statement.

“Defy should accept that the product is dangerous and could cause serious damage to property and person,” Mr Stegemann claimed.

“I have had Defy appliances about 10 years ago and I’ve been satisfied. However, last year I purchased a Defy fridge and after they delivered the third one with obvious damage out of the box I sent it back and bought a different brand.

“This tells me that their quality control has taken a dive,” said Mr Stegemann, who included the chain of correspondence he had with Defy.

Theunis Veldschoen, Defy regional service manager, Western Cape, told Tafelberg Furnishers, when they asked for advice, “The machine was pushed too close to the wall, causing the inlet pipe to touch the back of the machine. During the hot water cycle, the heat generated from the water in the inlet pipe, caused the back insulation to melt.

“This is confined to the area where the pipe touched the back section of the machine.”

To cut a long story short, Mr Stegemann told Tafelberg Furnishers that he did not accept Defy’s explanation and wanted a new unit, not a Defy, which he bought after paying a 20% handling fee for returning the old dishwasher.

“I think there is a defect in the design of this specific model (DDW171) and I would like consumers to check their units if they have bought this model.

“Defy is aware of the risk, but what does this say about their attitude to those who are loyal to their brand?,” Mr Stegemann wanted to know.

So what did Defy have to say? The first response from brand communications manager, Rox-ann Govender, was puzzling.

“Defy values the concerns of our customers and will investigate the matter with urgency.

“For best results it is recommended that Defy products be used as per indicated in the respective user manuals,” she said.

“Also, can you please confirm with the customer to which water faucet (hot or cold) he had connected the unit as this would assist us in evaluating our findings and resulting actions (I told Ms Govender, it’s not my job to talk to the customer).

“Our current operational instructions for that machine indicate to ‘Use a screw on hose connector to secure the filler hose to a 3/4 inch threaded cold water tap’.”

Then there was silence until I sent Ms Govender a reminder.

“Our Western Cape regional manager, Jason Crowther, contacted Mr Stegemann who expressed his thoughts. Jason listened to Mr Stegemann’s concerns and advised him accordingly,” she said. What was his advice? I wondered.

However, according to Mr Stegemann, it was just a courtesy call.

“Mr Crowther told me it is merely a courtesy call to say the matter is being dealt with by the brand manager (Ms Govender). But he could not tell how it was being dealt with and repeated that it was just a courtesy call,” Mr Stegemann said.

When I emailed Mr Crowther to ask what he told Mr Stegemann, there was no response. However, Ms Govender did reply.

“Please ensure this is the comment that is published and please do not quote Jason but instead quote Defy spokesperson.

“Jason listened to the customer and assured him that the matter was handed to the highest level of service and safety.

“The product will go through comprehensive testing to ensure safety and quality isn’t comprised.”

So did it? How long is a piece of string? As a safety precaution, check the model number and call Defy with any queries.