Maintain copies of service records when you get your products repaired

When we buy products, in most instances, there is a warranty attached to them. But, we are required to obtain the date of purchase and seal of the dealer stamped on the warranty card to give it life. The usual practice is that, in case of a problem during the warranty period, a complaint is to be registered with the authorised service centre of the company. A technician is sent by the centre to check and rectify the defect, after constant follow-ups, of course.

One very small but significant matter that we generally don't give much thought to is the service report. Most companies do not give a job sheet for the repairs carried out during the warranty period, though they maintain a record. Even when an alert and aware consumer asks for the service report, the service personnel refuse to give one, stating company policy.

All is well as long as there are no persistent defects; however, the situation becomes critical when there are frequent problems and the consumer decides to take the issue to a higher authority.

The burden of proof lies with the hapless consumer, who has to substantiate his claim. When he doesn't have the necessary records, it becomes all the more difficult to fight the case.

Sujanitha, a friend of my colleague, whose livelihood depended on the photocopy shop she owned, faced similar problems and was left in the lurch due to lack of such records. It is important for the companies to be responsible and transparent in their approach towards consumers. In the meanwhile, in order to safeguard ourselves, it is crucial that we take copies of the service record when durables are given for service.

Short-lived joy

My four-year-old refrigerator stopped working and I registered a complaint with the authorised service centre. The technician came the very next day, and told me that a particular part needed to be replaced.

Since I had not signed an annual maintenance contract with the company, I was to pay for the service and the replaced part. I agreed, and the component was replaced. However, my joy was short-lived as the fridge clogged up the very next day. I called the service centre and another technician was sent after almost a week. He checked the refrigerator, and said the snag was due to another defective part, and advised me to get it replaced. The cost quoted was a sizeable one, but since I couldn't do without the fridge, I decided to go ahead.

Catastrophe struck again, and the fridge stopped working within two days. I decided to take the complaint to the next level. Only then did I look into the job sheets given during the earlier services. They were imprecise and had no specific details about the components replaced. Now, I am seeking a detailed service report!

Is it not the responsibility of the company or its authorised service centre to deploy technicians with expertise in the area to identify and rectify the problem, instead of taking consumers for a ride? And, is it not their duty to provide a detailed service report?

(The writer works with CAG, which offers free advice on consumer complaints to its members. For membership details/queries contact 24914358/24460387 or helpdesk@cag.org.in)

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