athens: repair odyssey

Posted on January 15, 2006

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Computer-fire.gif

by seawitch

Since we started selling home entertainment systems in our stores, two things have become blatantly obvious to us.
The convoluted labyrinth of after-sales service (and I use the term loosely) which exists in Greece for the products we sell.
The malfunctioning service of the national electric company (ΔΕΗ) which forces our customers to resort to dealing with apathetic after-sales service companies.
It doesn’t matter what brand you buy, how new the product is or how much you pay for it, any customer who has a problem with whatever they’ve bought would rather take a hammer to it than navigate the repair channels in Greece.

To make matters worse, many of the appliances returned back to us are dead on arrival due to power surges from the electric company which many homes cannot handle because of substandard electrical wiring. Many of the homes built in Athens are wired to handle a washing machine, stove, fridge, and TV. So you’re basically flying on a wing and a prayer if you decide to buy and use electricity guzzling appliances like air conditioners, PCs, projectors, clothes dryers, and dishwashers as well.

We have repaired quite a few PCs with fried motherboards in the last few months including my own which is plugged into a surge protector. Apparently, the surge protector just protects your PC longer than an unprotected one but eventually, it too, will succumb to the continuous onslaught of power surges from ΔΕΗ. Now, I understand why ΔΕΗ states on the back of our power bills that they are not to be held liable for any damages incurred from their inability to regulate the power to our homes. They’d be bankrupt within a month.

So once the hapless customer shows up on our doorstep, we have to break the bad news to them…first the probable cause and then throw them at the mercy of the repair companies since the suppliers do not handle the service/repair contracts of the products they sell themselves. We’ve tried to intervene on the customer’s behalf to help them out many times in the past but this seems only to aggravate the situation.

When all is said and done, the electric company gets their money from the bill that caused the surge in the first place. The courier/cab company gets their money from the pick-up and return of the product. The supplier got their money because the customer has already paid. We lose more than the 5-10% profit off the product through phone calls, lost time, courier and/or petrol costs by getting involved and we end up with egg on our face for the whole fiasco.

I’d love to see ΔΕΗ held accountable for failing to supply continuous power to our homes. I’d love to see homes designed and constructed with adequate wiring and circuit boards to handle modern electricity consumption. More than anything, I demand that suppliers and repair companies offer just a modicum of decent after-sales service for its products instead of after-sales apathy we all have to suffer at present. I know it’s possible. North American stores have offered hassle-free refund policies for years. It’s time they found their way into Greece.

While my husband is on the phone tomorrow with both the suppliers and repair companies trying to negotiate a better deal for our clients, I’ll be off to Menidi with yet another comatose laptop for repair.