The fridge that chilled spines instead of water

A harried housewife just wants her fridge fixed, the fancy MNC has nothing but fine print to show her.

I knew it – MNCs are no better, if not worse, than desi ones when it comes to after sales service. This painful truth was revealed to me when my Whirlpool Quick Chill became a hot case, so hot that even the company didn’t want to touch it with a barge pole.

It happened last summer. I wanted to impress a client of my husband with a tall chilled glass of lime juice from my Whirlpool, just like the ads showed, and reached into the deep freeze for ice, and, what do you know, I felt water sloshing about in its ice tray. ‘Oh, must be the summer’, I thought, and reset the temperature control to maximum and waited…in vain! The water still sloshed, and, horror of horrors, the freezer was turning hot with a vengeance!

While I convinced the client that hot coffee was a better bet than chilled lime juice in the middle of summer, my husband undertook some discreet investigation with the fridge. He pronounced that the problem was beyond him and the experts needed to be called.

Simple? No. For, all the numbers of Whirlpool’s service centre and go-down I possessed were apparently outdated. Whirlpoool had shifted office and I hadn’t a clue where they were shacked up now. Even the LATEST directory of Bangalore telephones yielded the same old numbers. Inspiration struck, and I obtained the numbers from a friendly neighbourhood dealer of consumer durables. I had already lost two days of refrigeration by now.

Point: The customer service/PR dept of Whirlpool were caught napping. No announcement in the local papers, no junk mail to their recent customers to update them on the shift in office, no nothing, how does one operate in this case?…not everybody is as resourceful as ..ahem.. me!

An inspection team arrived (on the same day, I admit), and announced, on cursory inspection, that the motor fan was out, and more problems might be revealed on deeper probing. The bill would come upto about Rs.1500, if we were lucky. I had to shell out the Inspection Charges of 200 bucks to hear this bad news. A mobile van would be sent to correct the problem, not immediately but in a couple of days, I was told, for there was only one mobile van that was busier than Hrithik Roshan in top form.

Simple? No! I thought there was a warranty, guarantee, whatever, on this model for 6 years! But that’s only for compressor etc etc, except for whatever was wrong with the fridge, and only if you have AMC Ma’am, I was told. Just Rs 500 per year and everything is free!

Point: But nobody told me about the AMC when the fridge was purchased, and asked me to read the fine print! And only one van for the whole of Bangalore? Whither, Whirlpool?

A kindly Whirlpool executive advised me to take the AMC right away, and quietly avail of ‘Free’ service.

Simple? No! After two days of more waiting and innumerable reminders over phone, I got a call from their office. More bad news. The Whirlpool engineer, the one and only expert who dealt with Italian models like the one I had, was down with Typhoid, and was hospitalised. There was no saying when he would recover, but I was assured he would be sent from the hospital right to my fridge as soon as he would be able to.

Point: A week went by and the engineer’s typhoid was not worried about my fridge. I considered the options before me at that juncture:

  1. I make wisecrack comments on this MNC’s policy of having a SINGLE expert to cater to the whole of Bangalore
  2. I pray for his recovery and give him distance Reiki healing, so that he can heal my fridge in person.
  3. I appeal to Whirlpool to appeal to their HRD to recruit another Italian expert, from Italy if need be, and immediately thaw out (or chill out?) this ice maiden gone bust.
  4. I appeal to Whirlpool to send a desi expert, and the consequences be damned!
  5. I demand Whirlpool to give me a spare fridge while mine cools its heels (or rather, hots up) in anticipation of the typhoid-free engineer.
  6. Write this letter to whoever is willing to publish it in lieu of a complaint

As I continued to get choice curses-under-the-breath from my neighbours’ for stacking milk, curd and assorted items in their fridges for days on end, my model waited for her Italian knight with shining spanner, gathering dust (and heat) from her abandoned position.

Summer came and went, another company engineer did appear and pronounced that the affected motor fan was not available in India. All we could do was, well, wait, he said.

A kindly refrigerator dealer saved me from turning into a mental wreck by offering to take the hot property off my hands for a king’s ransom of Rs. 1500. I now have another MNC-turned-desi-model which has been so far chilling water, and not spines as the Whirlpool Quick Chill did. Oops – I shouldn’t have said that aloud. Now I’ll have to keep my fingers crossed!


  1. Siri Srinivas says:

    Ha Ha Ha!

    Customer Care is SUCH a farce. There should be a PIL to stop calling it that.

    My mother finally got exasperated with the same “care” her gizmos in the kitchen were getting. She now overworks them brutally and chops and changes appliances every other year.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but (quality)Service as a commodity is something we Indians will never quite come to understand. Why I even had an Airtel Customer “Care” executive hang up on me the other day! :O

  2. Sriram Narayan says:

    Great writing Purnima. Sorry about your ordeal though.

  3. Deepti Sarma says:

    Awesome writing!

  4. Sudha Narasimhachar says:

    I too have a very bad experience with the ‘service’ of these private companies. I have a Godrej refrigerator and washing machine. When they want us to sign an AMC contract, they do a lot sweet talking and force us to enter into agreements shelling down thousands. But when it comes to their calling, it simply does not happen as per the agreement. We have to keep reminding them, making tens of phone calls to different nos. First of all the disgusting call centre concept irritates me, as you never get to hear a human voice for nearly 10 minutes but keep pressing different numbers on your receiver! Then all the person does is only noting down the complaint and passing it on! And if the BESCOM cooperates, you can complete the call; otherwise you had it! Begin all over again and explain everything to another person of the call centre! AMCs are mere money-making day-light robbery plans of these companies! Nobody attends to servicing as per the agreement.

    Worthy and timely write-up.

    Sudha Narasimhachar

  5. Vinayak Kamath says:

    Nice one! Enjoyed reading it as much as you suffered going through the ordeal.

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