Thursday, November 19th, 2015
A friend in NJ sent this to me. It identifies legitimate expectations of someone who invests in the best and anticipates equivalent service. She wrote:
I had an experience recently that calls service into question.
We bought a Miele dishwasher about eight years ago. It cost more than my husband’s first car, but we had done our research and decided it was worth it. Up until now, we’ve been very happy with it. But it developed a leak early this month, so I called Miele (which does all of its own servicing). The person I spoke with in the service department was not the most congenial. It took a fairly long time for him to find us in the system, because someone had spelled my name wrong when I made my last service call. (They had talked me through a minor repair some years back.) The appointment he gave me was a week in the future.
The technician came and was very nice. He brought a $600 pump on the assumption that was probably the problem. But it wasn’t. It was two inexpensive hoses, which he did not have on his service truck. He pointed out the window to indicate how small the truck is and told me it had to hold everything he needs for a day’s scheduled repairs. What he didn’t explain was why the assumption was that the pump was shot and the leak had nothing to do with simple hoses or gaskets. He assured me the parts were in the warehouse, said someone would call to schedule another service appointment, and assured me I would only be charged for a single visit.
The next day I received an estimate for the cost of the repair, which said I had only five days to schedule an appointment before the estimate expired. No one had called me so I called and waited a long time to talk to someone in the service department. It turns out that all parts have to be shipped from the warehouse (here in NJ, where Miele is based and where I live) to the service tech (the techs work from home), and when he received them I would get a call to schedule an appointment. I insisted on prompt scheduling. My next appointment is a week from the first one. Assuming the dishwasher gets fixed then, we will have been without one for two weeks.
And I will have rearranged my schedule not once but twice to accommodate service appointments.
When I asked the customer service person why Miele operated on this convoluted system, which is inconvenient for the customer, he said it’s because the company wants inventory in the warehouse, not on the service trucks. My response was that if you send a tech out to fix a leaky dishwasher, he should have all the parts that might be needed in that situation, not just the priciest one. How much room do hoses take? I pointed out that when you sell high-end appliances, you need to offer high-end service! I also indicated that I’m in the process of replacing all the appliances in another kitchen and had just been in the Miele showroom two weeks ago to look at the latest dishwashers. I’d also looked at the products of a competitor.
We have other high-end appliances, and I have had service on some of them over the years. I’ve never had to wait this long to get one of them fixed. Most of the other brands do not have proprietary service, as Miele does. Instead, they use authorized repair people who service multiple brands. My neighbor had a problem with her dryer the other day and the service people were out here almost immediately!
I don’t mind washing dishes once in a while, although it’s a pain in the tail after a dinner party. But you don’t spend this much on a dishwasher to hand-wash your dishes for two weeks. And I will be asking very different questions before I buy my next appliances.
People with both tight budgets and deep pockets buy top of the line appliances from local merchants because they expect to get better service when needed–though not too often–as well as to keep the equipment for a long time. Is this a myth? Are they better off buying cheap copies from big boxes and tossing them when they break?