A few weeks ago the London Sunday Times published an interview with the CEO of IKEA UK, Martin Hansson. In it, he waxed lyrical about how IKEA had made it a strategic priority to expand their foray into kitchens and kitchen appliances.

So, when we returned from our Road Trip (three weeks ago!) and we found that our IKEA Whirlpool fridge, had literally, ‘gone dead’, and the smell of rotten freezer food permeated the kitchen, we did not worry. Between IKEA and Whirlpool, a respected international brand name, we would sort it out – quickly.

Where do you turn to first? The website, naturally. IKEA directed us to Whirlpool. Whirlpool directed us to the local technician – in Avignon and helpfully supplied the telephone number and name of the person.

Ring, ring, ring, ring, ring. Eventually we get hold of someone who turned out to the be the technician’s mother. Our name was taken. Our problem discussed.

36 hours passed and the telephone rang and the technician asked the 100 questions. He would not come out and call on us until we had answered all those questions. To no avail – some them too technical and too far for our French. Six telephone calls later and in utter frustration, we went to our friends down the road both of whom speak fluent French and practice in the legal field.

A seemingly fruitful telephone call ensured with the ‘mother’, only for the technician to call the next morning. When he heard who was on the phone he informed me in no uncertain terms that he would not speak to someone who did not speak proper French and who bought from IKEA! The phone was slammed down.

Bang! What to do? We discussed the issue at length and after visiting four other dealers to look at the market and prices for new fridges, we decided that if the IKEA Whirlpool fridge was even fixed it would be from good fortune not good service.

We visited Fabre Cuisines, closed our eyes, put down the money and ordered a Miele fridge. It was duly designated to arrive in 6 days time.

Not being ones to shirk a challenge, we decided not to give up on the other fridge (if fixed, it could enhance the pool kitchen) and wrote out our saga and headed off for Avignon IKEA. Fortified by meatballs and chips, we approached the Service Counter and received a dossier number and were assured of ‘prompt service’. We were also informed that IKEA was very proud of its 5 year guarantee and honoured it. The fridge had been bought in 2009 so was still under guarantee.

That was 14h20 last Tuesday.

At 15h30, we received a call from the Whirlpool technician – could he come ‘tomorrow’. Nope – we were going out. Thursday? Yes!

He duly arrived and started to repair the appliance. As he finished replacing the new compressor, he handed me an invoice. I told him it was ‘under guarantee’. Explosion! The electric lead was ripped out of the wall and he started to pack up.

Much negotiation ensued, many telephone calls, much pursing of the cheeks, throwing around of the arms and screaming. Suddenly, it was all over. The Whirlpool office had phoned – do it under guarantee, no charge. Our technician left.

On Friday, the Miele technicians arrived at their pre-appointed hour: 08h30. By 10h00, the fridge was installed, the doors changed and all the packaging materials taken away.

Our new fridge. Not Whirlpool!

Friday – 15h15 : a telephone call from Whirlpool. Is everything OK? But, please in future call us and get a dossier number before you call the technician. Please can they tell that to their website!

Friday – 16h15 : a telephone call from IKEA. Is everything OK? We apologise for your problems.

Well done IKEA. Sorry for you, Whirlpool.

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