No joy for consumer with a faulty Husqvana chainsaw

Pricewatch: No onus on vendor to aid with servicing of a product once the relevant warranty period has expired

Lidl: said they were unable to  help customer with a faulty chainsaw on the basis that the three-year warranty has expired. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Lidl: said they were unable to help customer with a faulty chainsaw on the basis that the three-year warranty has expired. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

We got an unusual mail from a reader called Reg last week. He bought chainsaw from Lidl – as you do – and was less than pleased that it had stopped working. The chainsaw was a Florabest Husqvana and he bought it in Carrigaline. He still has the receipts.

Keeping the receipt may not seem all that strange until we tell you that he bought it in 2008.

He says he only used it “for consumer use and was only used for minor purposes like Christmas trees and related. Recently the saw will not start or run, it seems it’s a minor issue such as fuel supply or spark plug”.

Reg contacted Lidl and asked for a service company “but they have refused on the basis that the three-year warranty has expired. I went to four service companies and each said they could not get spare parts and one said the saw was junk. The main Husqvarna agent in Cork, Atkins, also declined to help. I contacted Husqvarna but they have not responded.”

Still determined to seek redress, Reg contacted the Consumer Association or Ireland via email. “But they say they are too busy for non members, it would be helpful if they alerted consumers before writing messages,” he says.

“In essence Lidl are saying any product outside warranty is no responsibility of Lidl, even the simple step to refer a consumer to a service company. Is this a correct position and legal consumer [advice] from Lidl. If so I will now have to dump an item which may not have much wrong with it and belies the grandiose environmental statements of Lidl.”

Well, there is a lot going on here. First we have to commend Reg on his determination.

He is, perhaps, being a little harsh on Lidl, mind you. We can’t think of any company or retailer in the world or any consumer law that would offer a warranty of any kind on a product that is 12 years old, particularly when that product is comparatively inexpensive. It may also be that Lidl has no relationship with the manufacturer any more and we can’t see how a staff in a Cork store would be able to track down the service agents of a product that was sold more than a decade ago.

Similarly we think he is, perhaps, being a little harsh on the Consumer Association of Ireland. It is a small and not terribly well funded organisation that does not typically intercede with businesses on behalf of any consumers, members or non-members.

And given the age of the product – and the world in which we live – we are entirely unsurprised by the response of the service companies who dismissed Reg’s pleas for help.

Valid point

Now, having said all of that, he has an entirely valid point about the wastefulness of the approach we take when things break down and perhaps, were more people like Reg, less stuff would end up in landfill and the limited resources of the planet would not be depleted at quite the level they are being depleted. We might also save ourselves a few bob too.

We went in search of a place that sold spare parts for this particular product and Google led us quickly to a site called eurosmallengineparts.ie and that seemed to have all sorts of parts for this chainsaw –the one that looked most promising was the starter spring which cost just €6.99.

We called a couple of businesses comparatively close to where Reg lives who have an expertise in garden equipment to see if anything could be done and – just as he had done – we hit a brick wall.

A less than helpful chap in one shop told us that he “couldn’t be dealing with people who bought stuff in Lidl, we only look after our own customers”.

We were also told that it can be tricky to find spare parts for the machinery in question and the amount of time it would take to source them, get them delivered and then fit them, would not make it economically viable for either the shop or Reg.