take action

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2005, 12:00am

The column for anyone fed up with bureaucracy, frustrated with delays or furious with poor service. Tell us your complaint and we'll try to fix it ...


Peter Millward and his wife bought a $12,000 washer/dryer from the showroom of the Great Treasure International in Central in June. The machine has never worked properly. Repeated calls for service have fallen on deaf ears.


'We bought a brand new Smeg washer/dryer as well as a new Smeg oven, microwave, gas hob, and extractor hob,' he said.


'In total we have spent over $30,000 on Smeg appliances from Great Treasure Group, but the quality of after-sales service is appalling. The washer/dryer has never worked satisfactorily - the bleach and softener never go into the wash, an attachment for liquid detergent comes off and goes inside, and, most importantly, anything washed comes out feeling extremely hard, like a door mat, rather than fluffy and soft like they were before.


'In July, we called the maintenance department and they booked an appointment for July 22. However, the technician never turned up. My wife called and they said he 'forgot'. My wife then made another appointment - this time the technician was 'in China'.


'This continued for several more appointments until finally on September 8, a technician finally turned up.'


Even so, the machine was not fixed.


'The technician looked at the machine and said it was new and that he had to go and check the manual and would return on September 10. He never returned and never called. My wife again called back and the maintenance department is now saying it is not their responsibility.


'We would now like to return the washer/dryer as it is not functioning anything like it should, and exchange it for separate machines, but we cannot even get through to Great Treasure.'


More complaints were filed to the company.


'Two maintenance guys eventually came and said that the problem with the softener not going through was due to the poor water pressure in our building and they suggested we tip the machine at an angle so that the conditioner will flow through,' Mr Millward said.


After an inquiry by Take Action, Great Treasure promised it would contact the couple again to resolve the problems.


'It's our policy to help our customers until all the issues are satisfactorily resolved,' a company manager said. 'However, sometimes it is necessary for technicians to make several trips to determine and repair problems.'


He said the main problem with Mr Millard's washer was low water pressure from the building, but has promised to contact him and his wife to follow up the case.


Tin Hau resident Josephine Wong says the post office on Hing Fat Street frequently has long queues of customers waiting to pay their utilities bills because of its EPS payment service.


'The EPS machine is placed far away from the payment counters,' she says. 'When a customer pays by EPS, the post office worker has to walk to the machine, bring back a remote device for the customer to input his secret code, take it back to the machine, wait for a receipt and then come back to the counter to process the bill.


'At most other post offices, the EPS machine is placed right next to the counter so the worker doesn't need to leave his desk.


'Now at Hing Fat, if several people all pay by EPS rather than cash, you can imagine how many trips the worker has to make to process their payments.


'Sometimes, the remote device may reject the code input and the worker has to start the whole process again - another two-way trip. I don't understand why they can't place the machine next to the counter like every other post office I have been in.'


Ms Wong says she is often embarrassed because when she pays by EPS, she feels she is responsible for prolonging the wait for other customers.


'My bills sometimes run into the thousands and I don't carry so much cash. But you know how impatient some people in Hong Kong are,' she said.


'On several occasions, people behind me have looked really annoyed like I was the one causing trouble, and that I should have paid with cash.'


A post office spokesman thanks Ms Wong for her suggestion and has promised to take it up with the Hing Fat branch.


'The machine is not put there without a reason. It is there right next to the postal and speed post counter because many customers sending parcels or using our speed post service also pay by EPS,' he said.


'But having taken Ms Wong's suggestion, we are planning to put the EPS machine in a place close to both the parcel counter and the bills payment counters so it will help speed up any queuing.


'We are very grateful for her suggestion and will implement the new plan as quickly as possible.'