Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Positive Feedback : Sunbeam Electronics / Oster Housewares –

Over the holidays, I got a giftcard for a big-box housewares store, and used it to purchase something terribly boring-sounding like a blander. I mean, blender. Hey, I needed one!

As much as, as a child, I got a kick out of contemplating the difference between “Chop,” “Blend,” “Puree,” “Raplougiffy,” and umpteen other settings, I picked one with a higher price, and fewer settings. KISS, right?
So, this Oster was kinda spendy, as far as blenders go. It has a glass pitcher, which I thought essential, and a solid metal base with a simple “high / low” dipswitch to turn the thing on. What could go wrong, right?

Well, there is a little black plastic collar at the base which holds the blades in the pitcher, and sits between the pitcher and base. Somehow, back in February, I either overtightned or was too rough with this little plastic sleeve. The thing cracked in half. Salsa disaster!

Things like this are one of those grey areas with “Warranties.” The product failed, that’s for sure. Warranties guarantee against defects in materials and workmanship, right?

Well, we’re sure the part failed. But was it defective? Yes, I broke it. But, there are umpteen plastics to choose from. A product of this price range relative to its competitors, with a thick glass pitcher and durable stainless steel base, ought to be made out of a more shock-resistant composite, right?
Defective materials, or user error?

These grey zones,and the way a company handles them -- not just the text of a warranty but the practical way that it is handled -- have a huge impact in the perception of a company, as well as the odds of earning repeat business.

Well, I called Oster, owned by Sunbeam, it seems, and navigated through a frustrating series of menus before I had to simply hit pound repeatedly to talk to a real live person.

A few quick questions later, I told the Customer Service fellow the model number and described the broken part. No inquiries about how it broke, no request for postage, no need to return the entire item to the big-box store I got the thing from.

Four days later, I had a replacement collar at my house.

Thanks a lot, Sunbeam.

(now let’s hope I don’t go and break it, again)

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