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06 August 2006

Bothered by Bosch

My article about Dyson's breakdown problems made the front page of reddit and hopefully this article on Bosch will do so too because my experience from the first time around shows that a front page article reaches a very substantial audience and I feel this article deserves similar treatment. Interestingly, as of two days ago, Dyson are now offering a five year guarantee as standard. Perhaps Bosch will follow this lead?

Why I will avoid buying Bosch, even though they are a recommended best buy.

In 1991 I bought an AEG washing machine. It was reliable enough but in 2001 it packed in and was uneconomic to repair. I think AEG were a best buy when I got them but by 2001 the engineer said they were no longer the brand they used to be. Bosch seemed to be better for reliability. After a posting on Usenet and lookup up reviews, including reliability, a Bosch machine I liked got a good write-up on price, features and reliability and were recommended as a best buy from the consumer's association. The machine was installed in June 2001 and after a few minor teething problems with small fingers, it worked well.

That was June 2001. On December 2003 I wrote the following to Bosch - incidentally, I am particularly pleased that my database driven e-mail client allows me to find emails and Usenet postings going all the way back to 1994 with ease.

Our Bosch maxx 2450 machine has completely broken down after less than 2 and a half years. The cost to repair this £400 machine, as quoted by your engineer today, was £340. Are you normally in the business of making machines that become uneconomic to repair after such a short period of time?

The drum has stopped moving and the Siemens engineer who called this morning gave us a £220 quote MINIMUM for repair on top of the offensive £50 call out plus he said it might also be the electrics and that would be another £100 on top plus VAT. £340 for a repair? you must be joking!!

My complaints:

1. Spending £400 on a machine EVERY 30 MONTHS is totally unacceptable and for a so-called reliable brand I would have reasonably expected such a critical component to last significantly longer than this.

2. The engineer today did not even bother to take the machine apart to diagnose the problem, this could have been handled over the phone, saving the £50+ callout today. Bosch told us over the phone that they knew the problem (electrics or motor), and we were expecting him to come and actually repair it. Yet he turned up today with no parts to do the work. This means he is going to have to come back again, adding needlessly to delay. With two small children and another on the way we use the machine daily and cannot hang around waiting for you to organise their procedures for a repair. Why was it not possible to bring spares or to attempt to diagnose whether it was the electrics, the motor or both? At £340 for a repair you will lose our business as I see the AEG OKO-LAVAMAT 86741 has now become the Which best buy and I would rather buy that brand instead if you make the repair uneconomic as my last AEG lasted for over 10 years.

3. The engineer only gave us a 7:30am - 5:30pm window for turning up. How many people complain at this outrageous practice? When the engineer has to attend a doctors do they treat their doctor with the same cavalier attitude of "I can't commit to turning up at a particular time, here's a 10 hour window. Clear your books of all other work, take the day off, and deal with it"? Doctors have to deal with both routine work and major emergencies, yet I can still get an appointment at the surgery and I'm seen usually within 30 minutes of it. Why can doctors manage with an appointments system but washing machine repair people from major companies require a 10-hour window?

4. The engineer said the problem might be the brushes and we should have called him sooner. However, the appliance was working fine until last week. How can we tell in advance the brushes are going to avoid this problem happening in another 30 months? We can’t! Where is the warning light "your brushes are about to go, please call an engineer"? How can we detect this fault in future? There is nothing whatsoever in the manual about it.

I note the following and await your response:

Under the Sale of Goods Act, retailers are responsible for faulty goods (that are not 'of satisfactory quality') for up to six years after you bought them. 'Satisfactory quality' covers various aspects that could be wrong with the goods, including whether they've lasted as long as you could reasonably expect.

The upshot of all of this is that the shop we bought the Bosch appliance from (John Lewis, a bastion of excellent service) accepted their responsibility under the Sale of Goods Act and gave us a brand new replacement machine. It had to be an equivalent to the one we had and so we got another Bosch and the replacement model to the one that had broken down.

So the first Bosch appliance broken down after 30 months and was replaced in December 2003. Hey, guess what happens 31 months later on 16th July 2006? Well, I find myself writing to Bosch again. Here's the e-mail that quoted the December 2001 incident.

An identical fault has developed with the replacement machine. Since breaking down seems to be a "design feature" after 30 months, I think I will need convincing to ever use your products again.

Please advise what we should do, I think a letter to the "Consumers' Association" suggesting that your products are too unreliable to ever be recommended by them is in order here.

Also, when I go to your site to locate the manual for the machine, it requires an E-nr number. The site states that this is on the top of the door. All I have there is a blank sticker with nothing underneath it. Perhaps you could have a site like everyone else's that simply allows me to type in the model number and find instructions that way rather than an obscure number in a place I can't find it.

Finally, your website is broken

I keep getting this error when looking for instruction manuals

Internal Server Error
The server encountered an internal error or misconfiguration and was unable to complete your request.

Please contact the server administrator, you@your.address and inform them of the time the error occurred, and anything you might have done that may have caused the error.

More information about this error may be available in the server error log.

Apache/1.3.31 Server at Port 80

I think I'll be posting details on my website, 100,000+ page views a month and a particular emphasis on product quality. Your website reliability seems to be on a par with your product reliability.

Their response the next day (17th July)

In order that this matter be fully investigated, could you please supply
your full address and contact telephone number?

Their response on 18th July

In order that this matter can be investigated, please can you provide the full model number - enr and fd number. Once I am in receipt of this information, I will be able to look into this matter further.

Evidently they hadn't bothered to read my mail stating that I couldn't find said number.

I replied right away. Their next response was on 26th July

Having fully noted the points you have made, I respectfully advise that an engineer is required to inspect your appliance before any comments can be made. Please contact our Service Centre on 08705 678910 to arrange an engineer. As your appliance is out of the manufacturer's guarantee the callout charge of £59.50 will apply as will any repair costs thereafter.

Well, that would have been Bosch support then. 10 days just to advise me that I needed an appointment, that they weren't responding to my point about product reliability or the Sale of Goods Act and like last time were charging me absurd callout charges and day long appointment windows. What I hadn't told Bosch was that I had anticipated this lousy service from the last time around and on the day the appliance broke (a Sunday) I called a repair man advertising in the local paper. He says, he'll turn up at 9am the following morning and there he is bang on time. No callout charge either. Local Guy fixes the machine and it turns out it needed a new electric board (£95 inclusive to replace and fit it, 20 minute job once he gets started). 9:30am on Monday we have a working washing machine. Bosch hasn’t even read my email yet and are still 10 days off a request for setting up an appointment. Their SLA for replying to e-mail is 6 days. I've used their phone support too, but found it unhelpful especially with no e-Nr number available and in any case it's more convincing quoting the Sale of Goods Act to them in e-mail. I wonder if Bosch think it's acceptable for a family of 5 to have no washing machine for nearly 2 weeks when we normally use it twice a day? Reality check required there.

So I gave up on Bosch customer service for the washing machine. However, as of 6th August I have to go through the whole thing again with a different appliance.

Our house came pre-fitted with Neff appliances. I'd call them Naff really as the oven door doesn't close properly, the hob takes ages to light and the freezer door bangs. Incase you're thinking it's just us, it isn't most of the neighbours have had similar problems. The built-in dishwasher is also Neff. Neff is supported by BSH Appliance Care, the same people that do Bosch. Oh, joy and delight.

So the story of the dishwasher. Fitted brand new in 1999 before we bought the house, it failed catastrophically in June 2004 and was uneconomic to repair. The motor broke and the ensuing flood destroyed the electrics. As a result of the flood damage we got a replacement via the insurance. Between the Consumers' Association, the washing machine repairman and the dishwasher repair estimator, the three of them were still praising Bosch so I put down my experience 6 months previously with the washing machine as bad luck and in any case, this was a different appliance. So I bought Bosch dishwasher to replace the Naff one that had broken down and the replacement was actually big enough to take our dinner plates, it rocked.

August 2006 and the dishwasher has broken down, it may have also shorted out the whole house as the master fuse in the house went at the same time. This wasn't my fitting of the appliance either, the electrical part of fitting the dishwasher consists of plugging the prewired plug into the socket. The problem is that the water isn't heating up, the dishes aren't drying and the programme sticks at 1 minute to go for about an hour. My local engineer (open on a Sunday) reckons it’s the electrics. Wow! Three Bosch appliances with failed electrics, all well within 3 years - is this a record? My PC is still going strong after 6 years, maybe I should get the Bosch engineers in to learn something, I would naturally charge them a call out of £60 for my time, even if I don't have to do anything, and naturally tell them to block out 10 hours of their time for a 30 minute job, hurrah!

However, Local Hero can't help me out this time as he doesn't do dishwashers - reason being that Bosch make the parts too difficult for independent repair people to get hold of (according to him). So another phone around is required to see if there are any specifically dishwasher repair people who can fix it such that I don't have to charge the Bosch call out (currently around £60 before they do anything).

However, I had my revenge today. Not only do I get the Consumer's Association magazine but also this month I've been randomly selected to take part in their annual product reliability survey, including Dishwashers and Washing Machines. It's published in January 2007. Bottom marks all round from me for Bosch, top marks for my other appliances including my freezer that I've had for over 11 years with no faults at all.

Summary of Bosch

1. Surveys indicate they are reliable, my experience with 1 Neff and 3 Bosch appliances has been otherwise. However, even reliable appliances sometimes breakdown and you need reliable customer service to get you going again rather than 2 weeks dirty washing.

2. Bosch customer service by email is extremely slow and goes backwards and forwards asking questions about address and E-nr number rather than asking for all these up front.

3. Bosch charge an excessive call out fee and have laughably poor delivery windows. I have a thing about poor delivery windows and evidently according to consumers mentioned by Which so do many other people.

4. Local guy can often do the same job, cheaper, turn up at a specific time, has no call out charge and is open on Sunday.

Still thinking about buying Bosch? See how they do in the January 2007 report when my comments are incorporated.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this, Craig. I too am having problems with Bosch. I bought my washer-dryer on recommendation from Which. Bosch attributed the problems I was having to my siting the machine on a concrete floor and discouraged me from calling them out, since they would have to charge me the full call-out fee to tell me that and their engineer would not be able to do anything to help. Now it turns out that there was a problem which could only have happened in manufacture but because I didn't call them out within the guarantee period they are not going to do anything. Oh, and it looks as though the repair will be uneconomical... And I wish I had bought it through John Lewis, because their customer care is indeed excellent.

Anonymous said...

BSH Appliance Care are the worst company I've ever had to deal with in sorting out the problem with my NEFF washing machine - after £200 for parts, engineers not turning up (more than once) after I'd waiting in for 4 hours on each occasion, etc. I'd like to shoot this company into outer space!

Anonymous said...

Craig, thanks for the posting, I have recently returned from Holiday to find my 32 Month old Fridge/Freezer faulty, incidently its a "Premium Quality" Brand AEG that cost me £700, however like you I purchased from John Lewis (2 yr warranty) I am now in the process of getting letters/e-mails of to John Lewis using your case as a guide - will let you know how I get on. Who in John Lewis did you contact, branch or head office??

Anonymous said...

Our AEG fridge/freezer (S86378KG) from John Lewis started building up excessive ice (27 months old) and the service engineer found that it was down to excessive refrigerant in the system (from new) which caused breakdown of insulation (the callout was paid for by JL but only after quoting the Sale of Goods Act to them and rejecting their suggestion of paying for it jointly). Subsequently, Service Force changed their story and said it was down to a build-up of ice in the lining (not down to any user fault). This assessment was based on an internal AEG technical bulletin, so the fault is clearly known. AEG is offering part-exchange and so is JL but only on an expected lifetime of 5 years. The average lifespan of a fridge is 11 years according to
We paid £600 for the fridge and expect more like 15 years use. Has anyone any more information on the life expectancy of fridges and what to expect out of John Lewis?

Anonymous said...

After some lengthy discussions with John Lewis (Edinburgh) they are giving us a part exchange on the AEG fridge (comment above) based on an expected life of 11 years - we said we wouldn't accept anything less (but probably should have asked for more). JL tried to fob us off with 5 years (AEG was offering that and it would have meant that AEG would have picked up the whole balance of £300). Far from being customer heaven, John Lewis was misinforming us of our rights under the Sale of Goods Act (either deliberately or because of ignorance).

way9 said...

WAS 32462GBlogixx 8 perfect 1600 spin washing machine.... I purchased a top of the range washing machine a price tag of £790.
Delivered last Friday, installed Saturday Alas did not work. As an engineer it was easy to determine the problem lay within the machine's electrical control elements.... As an owner of several Bosch white goods I enquired with Bosch customer service...the email reply has not materialised so a phone call here and there just seemed to fall on deaf ears.... The distributor was quick to suggest that the machine would be collected in a week's time, returned to Bosch then repaired and possibly returned to me in some four to six weeks. Quoting my rights under the sale of goods act with no alternative being offered I requested a refund. I was then informed that I "shold return the machine at my expense and if it were received in good order a refund may then be granted". my reply "I would undertake the return of the goods and then seek to recover my costs in the County Court"....subsequently I requested they provide contact information for the company director. It was not long before a manager called me to say "in this case they would make an exception to the rule and undertake a refund after the machine had been collected by their company van". Whilst I understand my contract is with the distributor I thought it reasonable to speak to Bosch and get their take on things. What a joke that was! They suggested I call out an engineer to obtain a report on the condition of the machine, I reminded them this was a brand new unit that had never been used or operated, cost me £790 and was bought for my wife as a present and they were mistaken if they thought I was about to allow for it to be taken apart in our kitchen in a bid to rectify something that should have been picked up before leaving the factory. his response and I quote,,, " I'm sorry to talk over you but you must first leave your emotions out of this,,the fact you bought this for a present is not important to us you must first get an engineer to inspect the machine then take the matter back to the retailer who in turn would raise a dispute with Bosch and seek some solution (time scales he hinted on 4-5weeks). it peeves to think that the dealer takes all the flac and Bosch just pass the buck. He even suggested a dodgy power supply in the house was the cause!.I know my contract is with the distributor but morally this is wrong Bosch need to stand up and be accountable.... I tried a couple more phone calls but Bosch not even remotely interested that one of their latest models is busted before it even goes into service. I have not given up yet and keen to make myself heard at Bosch to somebody who has the clout to ensure decent respectable customer service is part of the course and not some wild expectation. Any contact info for Bosch senior management greatly appreciated..thanks

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