Case in point: Having purchased some "fresh" broccoli from Franklin Hannaford's, we got home to find the florets were filled with mold. Ughhh! Into the trash it went. We took the sales slip back to the store to get a refund, as we had done other times we'd purchased a defective product, but this time they would not issue a refund unless we brought back the bad broccoli. (What did they plan on doing with that?) We were out of luck.
We should have learned from that experience, but we didn't.
A year ago, we sprung for a new grind-and-brew coffeemaker from Cuisinart, a brand we thought we could trust. We had bought inexpensive coffeemakers in the past but thought we were ready for a nice brewer and so we plunked down the $139.99 for the new one and were mostly happy with it, except that we quickly learned we could only make a half a pot a time if we didn't want a very weak cup of coffee.
The best part about it, we thought, was the stainless steel carafe that kept the coffee hot without a warmer.
Turns out the carafe's plastic, screw-on lid was a shoddy piece of workmanship and it broke off inside the carafe so we couldn't get it out. We contacted Cuisinart, since the coffeemaker came with a three-year warranty, and, after several weeks of back-and-forth email correspondence, they agreed that the carafe was covered by the warranty. All we had to do was to mail back the old carafe, and they'd replace it.
Problem was, after seeing the broken carafe sitting around the kitchen for weeks, we had decided to recycle it. It had gone to the transfer station and we couldn't send it in for a replacement. Without it, Cuisinart wanted us to pay $48 for a replacement carafe.
We spoke to Customer Service and, getting no satisfaction there, asked for a supervisor. No dice. They would not waver from their policy requiring us to send in the old one if we wanted them to honor the warranty.
So we're back to a $39 coffemaker — not a Cuisinart, either.
Needless to say, we're not recommending Cuisinart to anyone and don't plan to ever buy another Cuisinart product, all due to their refusal to honor a warranty and give in on a $48 item.
As to Hannaford's — we avoid the Franklin store as much as possible. Luckily, other Hannaford's branches, and our own, local Shop'n Save which carries Hannaford's products, have shown a little more integrity.
And you can bet that, in the future, we'll be sure to return any broken, rotten, defective, or otherwise unusable products to where they originated. Lesson learned.
Thomas P. Caldwell is News/Web Editor at The Citizen of Laconia. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Postscript: March 21, 2012
Today we received in the mail a replacement carafe for that Cuisinart coffeemaker. Whether it was due to this column, our complaint to the Better Business Bureau, or our filing with the federal Consumer Protection Bureau (or, perhaps all three), we cannot say. But it was a happy ending to the ordeal.