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Old 29.04.2009, 15:30
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Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

Hi, I just wanted to share my experience and see if it is typical or abnormal. We moved to Switzerland from US and obviously had to replace many kitchen and household appliances.

I love gadgets and like to buy relatively good ones, but if a rice cooker worth $15 in Target fits my purposes, I will stay with it.

Back in US I usually did a lot of research on the web, to make sure I know what the things are supposed to do and how, and what are the choices. If there is something relatively cheap but good enough for me, I would get it from Target or Best Buy (I would say Argos is equivalent store in UK). If that does not work, I would read more reviews and order something more sophisticated from one of the internet shops or just Amazon. In any case, the number of gadgets in my kitchen and home was quite high, and the number of failures of the equipment was quite low.

Here the reviews are virtually unavailable, and the models available in Swiss are often different (or at least differently named) from the models you can find reviews on on Amazon.de. So I went first by the least resistance and tried to buy some simple but necessary things in Interdiscount and Mirgos.

First was a Trisa iron ( ~CHF70 I believe) from Interdiscount that lived exactly 2 days. Well, I thought, perhaps just bad luck, I will go and return it. It turned out you can not return it to the store, and have to send it on your expense somewhere in Zug for possible repairs. The iron went to the cave.

Second was a humidifier (~CHF140) from Fust. It got completely molded after three days of work, although I did try to follow the instructions and changed the water. The humidifier went to the cave.

Together with the humidifier, or just prior to it I got a humidity measuring device in Migros (~CHF50). Upon bringing it home and plugging it into the wall we discovered that we apparently live in a jungle as the humidity changed only in a narrow range between 80% and 90%. When I finally decided to get to Migros and try to explain to them in my terrible French that this device is broken, a month passed and they suggested I mail it for repairs. The thing went to the cave.

Well, I decided to hit the high end. Next was a microwave from Migros (~CHF250) which works perfectly as long as you do not turn it to the highest power (L setting). On L setting the microwave barely heats a cup of tap water from cold to lukewarm in 20 minutes. I cannot jump around with very very heavy microwave, so I sent an email to Migros customer service describing the problem. I got an email back confirming that they'd received my email and would come back to me ASAP. ASAP lasts for a couple of weeks already.

Then I got Solis foamer (~CHF149 on their website) for my coffee. Well, after 3 successful foamings, the heating stopped working and now I am getting perfectly cold and slighly whipped milk. Not that I paid for... Again, email to Solis, got a question back in which country I am located. Telling them that I am close to them and in the same country got them (apparently) into a perpetual meditation. No reply yet.

On the top of that sits an amplifier, ordered on the internet from a Swiss internet retailer in February and still not delivered (but charged for).

To be fair, I have to add that a few appliances that were bought here are still working. They include a kettle (~CHF70) from Interdiscount, a Miele vacuum cleaner from Darty, a TV from a Philips dealer somewhere close to Bern and a bread machine I got in France (perhaps it does not count as Swiss then, and Miele and Phillips are not Swiss either).

Now I want to thank people who've read so far into my message and ask: was I just terribly unlucky or my experience is quite common? Close to 50% failure rate is extremely high, and most of the products I bought were made in Switzerland, not China. Yes, there is a selection bias, as I can choose my purchases much better in US than here, but even here I did not look for something obviously trashy. What do you think?

Thanks a lot!

Miss Kitty
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Old 29.04.2009, 15:47
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I've been here nearly two years with no appliance troubles at all, despite buying cheapo everything. I'm only one person though, so my experience is no more necessarily representative than yours.

How's your ceiling plaster holding up?
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Old 29.04.2009, 15:53
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

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I've been here nearly two years with no appliance troubles at all, despite buying cheapo everything. I'm only one person though, so my experience is no more necessarily representative than yours.

How's your ceiling plaster holding up?
Hehe naughty MathNut.
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Old 29.04.2009, 15:55
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

The modern world isn't for everyone. You should be living in a cave.
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Old 29.04.2009, 15:57
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

MathNut, for now the plaster is Ok :-)) If you really a MathNut, I hope you can help me to figure out if you or me are in the tail (outliers).

Miss Kitty
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:00
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

Miss Kitty, it sounds like you should get together with Sutter...

Seriously though, after returning from Japan (where they will even take stuff back that is out of warranty), the reverse culture shock was horrific. At the end of the day though, I would recommend being more vocal, asking for the boss and pushing hard for replacement of substandard stuff.

We bought a Candy Hoover washing machine and tumble dryer at Media Markt. After 4 months the dryer broke down and was fixed. After 8 months they both broke down again. The dryer took two weeks to fix. The washing machine took almost two months. Once it was repaired it broke down again. It was only after yelling and screaming and threatening with the use of our legal insurance that we got some action. Candy Hoover (finally) offered to replace the machine (after having been useless and unsympathetic for most of the time) and Media Markt offered to take the machines back and give us a credit for the full amount. Wanting to stay clear of Candy Hoover machines we took the latter option and opted for a Miele instead. It took a while for Media Markt to get moving but once they did they put pressure on Candy Hoover to reach a good solution.

Certainly something which breaks down after two days (the iron) should have been replaced by the store. They were just being lazy. Don't let them get away with it!
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:10
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

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Now I want to thank people who've read so far into my message and ask: was I just terribly unlucky or my experience is quite common? Close to 50% failure rate is extremely high, and most of the products I bought were made in Switzerland, not China. Yes, there is a selection bias, as I can choose my purchases much better in US than here, but even here I did not look for something obviously trashy. What do you think?

Sounds to me like you should buy extended warranty on appliances when available.

Also, some of the breakages may be due to bad electrical wiring on your home. I've seen some houses with such bad wiring that lightbulbs have to be replaced monthly. Perhaps you should have someone look at the quality of the electricity in your home.
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:10
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

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Miss Kitty, it sounds like you should get together with Sutter...
I must admit that the title made me think of sutter as well...

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Certainly something which breaks down after two days (the iron) should have been replaced by the store. They were just being lazy. Don't let them get away with it!
Absolutely. I am pretty sure that Switzerland is in that perspective the same as the rest of Europe: You made a contract with the local store, not the manufacturer. The store has to replace or fix your product or give you your money back.
I had the same with a computer store who told me to call Sony and after fighting back and reminding them of their repsonsibility, they were suddenly able to offer help...
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:15
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I'm with Snoopy there. The average American / Englishman used to decent service, especially regarding refunds is going to be in for a shock.

A good piece of advice is. "Observe how the locals deal with a similar situation." Basically they go completely batsh!t mental, demanding to see the manager, and threatening all sorts of legal action.

I once bought a juicer, that had been on the shelves so long that the rubber gears connecting the motor to the blades had totally perished. It took half an hour of persuasion in Manor to get a replacement, meanwhile they tested it repeatedly, convinced that the stupid foreigner was doing something wrong....

"Look, you do it like zis..." Pushes start button, "Whizzzzzz", black bits of rubber flying everywhere.
"No, no, you haven't hit it hard enough you know..." Pushes start button, "Whizzzzzz", black bits of rubber flying everywhere.

Cheers

Jim
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:16
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I must say I've never had any problems with electric appliances here.
At home it would certainly be the shop's responsibility to exchange, refund or repair faulty goods and to keep their reputation safe would do it on the spot. However I don't know much about consumer rights here, but it is always worth trying to be more demanding in the actual shop- ask for the highest authority on the premises and maybe they might give you more satisfaction?
Otherwise you may need a van hire to get all that stuff in your basement recycled one day soon!
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:17
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I agree with Snoopy. I found out one has to be way more assertive here with customer service guys, be persistent and you get things done. Waranty is also usually shorter (than in EU being 2yrs for everything).

One more thing, I have an impression that regular Swiss folks spend way more money on gadgets you mentioned and those might actually function well. We have had back luck with some things too, kettle, both of my Swisscom cellphones, broken washer, toaster, etc..which we bought for a price that would in my home secure at least some quality, while here it is really is a cheap bargain, it is almost expected from the cheap gadgets not to work it seemed by the reaction of the costumer service folks. So, your experiences aren't that unusual. It might be that if you speak the language and know where to push the right buttons it feels better to deal with the situ.
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:36
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

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Sounds to me like you should buy extended warranty on appliances when available.
.
Never do that - it's a waste of money and unnecessary. If you buy an expensive electrical item, you expect it to last more than a few years.
When someone tries to sell me one of these I always query how long they expect it to last. If they say one or two years then I walk out of the shop.
If they say longer then I ask why I need the extended guarantee?


We had two electric towel rails with remote controls fitted last year (don't ask). They were swiss made.

Both needed parts replacing within three months. One broke again last week, after 9 months of operation. It had a two year guarantee.

When we phoned up to get it repaired, I stated that of course I expected the guarantee of two years to start from the repair date.

So, the guarantees for both start again from now.
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:37
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

Sorry, who's Sutter?

I know that the things that broke are not the top, they are kind of 2 steps from the bottom But what's on the bottom then?! And although I will know now that I have to learn to yell in French fast, I am just absolutely amazed about the quality, it's worse than in Dollar shop in US. Plus, if the bottom is worse than in US, why the top will be better?

But until I learn to yell on sales reps and managers I shall go back to my previous ways... Even if it involves shipping and zoll...

Kitty
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:44
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

Migros electronics are guaranteed for 2 years. I've never had any problems with electronic appliances here most of my stuff has died a natural death.

I think Phos may be onto something about getting the electrical system in your house checked. Stand your ground in the shops they are responsible for exchange and repairs etc.
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:52
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I would also think something bad is with my electric system, but all the dual voltage appliances that we brought from US are absolutely fine (knock the wood) plus Italian coffee machine and grinder, plus a German steam iron station, etc. etc. And some computer/electronic equipment that is supposed to shut down on big jumps in voltage/amperage works Ok so far. So I guess it is possible that electric wiring is to blame but unlikely Plus the house is quite new, only 7 years old.

Anyway, thanks for your comments! It is nice to know that some people have better experience.

Miss Kitty
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Old 29.04.2009, 16:59
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I had an interesting experience last year. I bought a Braun (not cheap) cordless shaver/trimmer from Coop City. After charging for the recommended time, the battery lasted less than 1 minute. I then charged it again, but this time for much long, but it still only lasted 1.5 minutes.

I asked my partner at the time to take it back to Coop and get a replacement, they informed her that they would have to test it and then return it to Braun for repair. When I heard this I went a bit spare!!! I called the Coop and explained that I needed a shaver as I was starting to look like a goat, and the reason I bought it in the first place was because my 15 year old Remmington had mechanically broke. This got me nowhere, even with the supervisor, because they were "not authorised" by Braun to give out replacements, but she did give me the number of Braun. A quick call to them proved that they had no such policy/agreement with Coop and that I was entitled to a replacement. Therefore I should call them back in 10 minutes after he had had chance to talk to them.

20 minutes later, after a apologetic call from the supervisor at Coop, I was on my way to pick up a replacement. Been smooth (at least at the sides) ever since :-)

Ian
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Old 29.04.2009, 17:01
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I have had excellent experience with Moulinex, they sell it in France (kettle, toaster, blender, coffee machine). Relatively cheap and good, plus it looks way better than what you see in Swiss stores in the same price cathegory.
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Old 29.04.2009, 17:15
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

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I had an interesting experience last year. I bought a Braun (not cheap) cordless shaver/trimmer from Coop City. After charging for the recommended time, the battery lasted less than 1 minute. I then charged it again, but this time for much long, but it still only lasted 1.5 minutes.

I asked my partner at the time to take it back to Coop and get a replacement, they informed her that they would have to test it and then return it to Braun for repair. When I heard this I went a bit spare!!! I called the Coop and explained that I needed a shaver as I was starting to look like a goat, and the reason I bought it in the first place was because my 15 year old Remmington had mechanically broke. This got me nowhere, even with the supervisor, because they were "not authorised" by Braun to give out replacements, but she did give me the number of Braun. A quick call to them proved that they had no such policy/agreement with Coop and that I was entitled to a replacement. Therefore I should call them back in 10 minutes after he had had chance to talk to them.

20 minutes later, after a apologetic call from the supervisor at Coop, I was on my way to pick up a replacement. Been smooth (at least at the sides) ever since :-)

Ian
What you have described is one of the most maddening thing about the stores here.

I've never though about calling the manufacturer of the appliance (rather than the head office of the store).
I'll try that next time I have the same problem with a store wanting to send a just-out-of-the-box product back for repair.

Thanks!
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Old 29.04.2009, 17:34
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

I tend to buy household and electrical stuff at Manor if the price isn't too much more than the other stores (and sometimes Manor is cheaper).

I've taken things back there a few times and everytime has been completely hassle free.
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Old 29.04.2009, 17:40
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Re: Adventures with household appliance: poor swiss quality or just very bad luck?

Gawd, I read: "Adventures with household appliance: poor sexual quality or just very bad luck?"

Oops.
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