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I’ve been living without a properly functioning fridge freezer for some weeks now.

The problem started in March when our old unit broke. It was old, out of warranty and not worth replacing.

So, we bought a new one from Curry’s – only to end up in a pickle.

Buying the new fridge was simple enough. We chose one online and it was delivered on the day we asked. We let it stand overnight, turned it on and put our food in it.

So far, so good. Everything was fine, though the freezer did seem to be extremely cold. Ice creams would quickly become concrete hard, but it wasn’t really a hardship to wait for them to defrost a bit.

Three or four weeks in, the fridge stopped cooling properly. I noticed when I opened a packet of chicken and nearly passed out from the putrid smell. I put a thermometer in the fridge and discovered it wouldn’t drop below about 13 degrees Celsius.

The freezer, however, was still as cold as the Antarctic.

So we got in touch with Curry’s and they sent a repair man round. He said that a bracket on the fridge was stopping the freezer door from closing properly (it looked closed to me). Apparently this meant the freezer was so busy cooling the kitchen that it couldn’t cool the fridge properly. So he took the bracket off and went away.

Of course, the fridge didn’t get any cooler, even though the freezer did. So we rang up Curry’s again and the repair man returned. This time we discovered that the freezer wasn’t getting cold enough to safely keep food in it. The fridge, if anything, was warmer.

This time he said we had a new problem – a faulty compressor. He could fix it, but he recommended we ask Curry’s for a replacement fridge freezer instead. He’d order the part in case they refused.

But when we rang Curry’s, they said they were upgrading their systems – so they couldn’t do anything for another 4 or 5 days. So we carried on without a working fridge freezer.

Eventually, we did get through again and they agreed to replace the unit. We would be sent a ‘replacement code’ within 48 hours. The days passed. Over a week later, we’d heard nothing.

So we called again. They said they couldn’t issue a replacement code because the repair man had ordered a spare part, which he had to remove from the system. (At this point, they reminded me their system was recently upgraded. Frankly, I don’t see how this is supposed to be my problem).

All I could do was wait. We would get a code in 48 hours, if all went to plan.

So far it hasn’t. It looks like I will be trapped in a cycle of ringing the company every 48 hours and being told their ‘system’ prevents them from replacing my fridge freezer. In the meantime, we’re wasting money and time by having to go to the supermarket every day to buy perishables like milk. That’s not to mention the freezer full of food we had to chuck away (including some rather nice goulash I had made and frozen – that particularly annoyed me).

The whole saga has reminded me that, while big companies can offer you good deals on price, they’re often much too happy to fob you off when things go wrong.

Someone I know recently found this out too. He bought a £4,000 TV from Curry’s which developed a software problem. Curry’s collected it and then managed to damage it beyond repair in transit. They refused to refund the full cost of the TV – instead returning an empty box and a voucher for part of the TV’s value.

That was over a year ago. This month, the Small Claims Court ordered Curry’s to pay a full refund, plus costs. No-one from Curry’s turned up to defend the claim.

I do wonder whether the company’s technique is to wear you down with red tape until you give up. Certainly, it’s tempting to buy a new fridge rather than endure endless calls with operatives who can’t or won’t solve your problem.

I won’t buy that new fridge – it’s now a point of honour. But next time I do need to buy one, I’m going to use a local, independent firm for whom customer service stills means something.

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About Ben Locker

Ben Locker is a copywriter who specialises in business-to-business marketing, writing about everything from software and accountancy to construction and power tools. He co-founded the Professional Copywriters’ Network, the UK’s association for commercial writers, and is named in Direct Marketing Association research as ‘one of the copywriters who copywriters rate’.

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