Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Is smeg Korean For Lemon?

Dear Signore Bertazzoni

I'm sorry to interupt your Summer holiday, I'm sure your villa on Lake Como is positively gorgeous this time of the year, but as a smeg customer, I am not happy. I've been a microwave fan for years, having previously owned your competitors products, a Sony & a Panasonic. The Sony was a gem, 14 years old & still going strong, as was the Panasonic at 8 years, it was as good as new. Both went to good homes, the Sony to a son who was setting up his own place & the Panasonic to the Rowing Club, who were in desperate need of a microwave after their kitchen refurbishment.

4 years ago, to replace the Panasonic, I purchased one of yours, a SA31-1MX, paying the princely amount of AU$695.00. MOTH wasn't happy, & I had to do a lot of convincing that we would get our money's worth - how wrong I was.

During the first 6 months the globe blew & the metal door trim peeled away from the cabinet frame. Small things you might say, but not what I was expecting so soon into our 'relationship'. Then after about 12 months I noticed small areas of bubbly corrosion on the black enamel interior, similar to rust spots. Now before you jump down my throat & accuse me of misuse, I will tell you that I followed the care instructions to the letter. Wiping out the interior with a sponge using warm water & mild detergent only, drying it afterwards, cooking in the appropriate containers etc. etc.

I checked the Warranty & noted that we still had a further 12 months running on it, so phoned the number on the paperwork. I quickly discovered that you don't go direct into Australia, you sell through a Distributor Omega Appliances. I spoke to their Customer Service person, who quite frankly, would have won the annual Company Award for providing the most disinterested & unhelpful advice to a customer. Her 'advice' was to carry the offending appliance out to my car, spend 2 hours driving to the other side of the city, lug it into their Service Dept., & leave it there for 2 weeks. When they had a spare moment, they would have a look at it to see if my complaint was genuine. If it wasn't, then they'd happily confirm that I was the raving loony she secretly thought I was. Oh, & even if the issue was my fault, I'd have to pay a fee of $95 for the privilege of being told that. You've got to be joking.

We purchased the product originally from David Jones, a reputable Department Store who has provided us with excellent service over the years. I phoned their Small Appliances Manager, who listened carefully to my complaint, & confirmed what we reckoned, that during manufacture, the enamel baking process had somehow failed. She promised she would speak to her contacts at smeg to see what could be done & phone me back the next day. 2.5 years on, I'm still waiting for the return call.

As time has passed, the interior of the microwave has rapidly deteriorated, with large areas of erosion spreading, like ulcerous cankers. The inside rim of the door buckled & warped & the rubber seal fell off. Each time I wiped it out, large flakes of rusty metal would adhere to the sponge - it was atrocious. Sunday night was the final straw. As I was wiping over the interior after cooking a small container of rice, my hand suddenly plunged through the floor of the microwave onto the kitchen bench underneath, just about ripping my hand to pieces on the jagged metallic edges in the process. A large gaping hole, aptly around the size of a lemon now renders SA31-1MX totally useless....... she is as dead as a dodo.

So here we are Signore, 4 years on, with no microwave & $695.00 worse off. I'm just wondering if you or any other member of the family conglomerate, have any ideas as to what we do next. Oh & the icing on the cake was when yesterday morning, as MOTH was yelling for me to check the fine print on the smeg Warranty again, I noticed on the back page this little gem ' Thank you for buying this Daewoo product'. I feel like a right sucker. I was never under the illusion that the manufacture of products like this wouldn't be outsourced to other parts of the globe but Oh mio Dio - please explain!!!

2 very angry & miserable ex-?smeg/?daewoo customers - Millie & MOTH.



  1. Gosh, I am so sorry that you have had to deal with that and such poor customer service to boot! I wish I had some magical advice but I feel as you do. Ugh!

    And what's up with customer service in general lately?!

    Hugs to you and wishing you some sort of "miracle"! :)

  2. hmm. A lot to say here. The Daewoo thing is like booking a flight to Fiji on Qantas and being put on an Air Pacific flight because they are 'code sharing' and they 'forgot' to tell you.

    The sad truth about European appliances in Australia is that the after sales service can be woeful. They just don't care. Ilve falls into that category although Miele I have found to be good.

    Why don't you issue a claim in whatever the Small Claims Tribunal is over there, you can do it yourself. It would be worth it for that amount of money. And very very satisfying.

  3. Methinks you rant far too politely Millie.

  4. Ugh! I hate stuff like that!

  5. I am so pleased to read your experience with the customer service at Smeg. I am about to purchase an oven, and had been seriously considering a Smeg, due to the *huge* problems I had with my previous all Miele lemon kitchen (coffee machine eventually replaced, oven motor sounded like a truck was parked in the kitchen running, oven interior flaked off and replaced within 6 months, oven seals break every 6 months and need to be replaced, plastic parts on the range hood that fail and break after 4 years of use and I could go on). Their customer service was exceptional, just their product was sub standard.

    I was so disappointed after growing up with their product in my mother's kitchen and thinking it was excellent quality. Maybe it was 25 years ago, and not so much today.

  6. Well written post Millie,

    Sometimes these things need to be said. I hope there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can somehow be compensated. Yes, I agree with Sophia, customer service is virtually non-existent these days. Lets hope that the right people read this and something is done.
    Take care
    N.W. Coast Tassie

  7. What terrible customer service all round. I will write smeg off my list of new appliances for the kitchen. Hope your next microwave lasts many years.
    Clare x

  8. I was such a Smeg believer until now!A friend had a miele dishwasher that wouldn't behave and when they took the front off the works were a much inferior product that she could have bought for a quarter of the price! Feel your pain!!!!

  9. Having worked for a large bank in their customer complaints area, you would do best to send your complaint directly to the head of SMEG Australia. I'd ring first, ask for the customer complaints area and if you get no satisfaction you ask for the contact details of the CEO. Frankly, that is quite appalling and no one would consider that acceptable. Good luck! x

  10. Ive read your post with great interest Millie as we had a smeg microwave in our last house & it also rusted out in under 4 yrs. Now I am not a person that is adventurous in the kitchen so, our microwave is only ever used to heat things up or defrost, nothing to major.I will certainly avoid smeg from here on in knowing others are experiencing the same issues!!!

  11. Not good! And probably not what you want to hear but my panasonic microwave is well over 10 years old and still going strong - touch wood! I think you need to put this very very frustrating story in the past. Go and buy yourself a new one and don't look back. Fingers crossed. ;-)

  12. I hope your hand is OK!!!I followed the link to your blog from Coty Farquhar's blog and thank you for your comment about my work. I must confess to reading your rant with relish, and if I want to be entertained, I now know where to come,(although I am not laughing at what happened to your hand, or your outrage over a broken microwave from Korea that was passed off as the last word in Italian industrial design). I hope there will be a sequel to your story in the form of an offer of full compensation from Smeg, or perhaps an invitation to Lake Como for a vacation at the owner's villa will be forthcoming.

  13. I am one of your quieter lurker readers - but this made me write - so well put! Bravo.

    Please send a copy to all the people who have made NO effort to help you. Won't get you anywhere of course.... Ann x

  14. Somebody told me, and I don't know if it's true, that brands like Smeg, Bosch, Blanco etc,. use the cheapest of appliances and badge them with their brand names..We've got a Miele combi oven for our microwave now and it's ok but I still prefer our old Sony! Sorry you've had an unpleasant experience..unfortunately, it's all too common. Rachaelxx

  15. That's appalling. I,like you assumed that smeg was an excellent brand and well worth the extra money. We purchased a new oven this year and didn't have the cash for a smeg so bought the omega, within a month one of the burners stopped working,when the repair man came(very nice guy)I mentioned this to him and he said "Id only buy an omega,never bother buying a smeg" he told me that the only difference between the smeg and mine (besides $3000) was the knobs a drawer and a tiny Cheap computer to allow auto features. The body and every part used are EXACTLY the same,they just add bells and whistles. Interesting yes?

  16. quite justified I would say! that is truly disgusting, not to mention dangerous - I've never had that brand Millie, I hope they are listening to you in Lake Como!

  17. I'm so glad your hand and you are ok. That's woeful.
    As I said yesterday, I will probably avoid "European" appliances after experiences with Smeg and Gaggenau.
    My mother's microwave is Sony. It was the only stainless steel faced one available 15 years ago, so we were told, and it's still going strong. Mind you it is a commercial one at 1400W.

    Sandy K

  18. Forgot to say, I enjoy your "rants". Thoroughly entertaining. I hate that you have to do it, but enjoy your writing all the same.

    Sandy K

  19. Millie,

    While I don't have any Smeg appliances, I feel your pain. That's far too much to pay for something that has been such trouble.

    After going through a big remodel ourselves, and seeing that even expensive appliances are not all they are cracked up to be, I'd go with less expensive options given another chance. I don't think that the top notch appliances are any better than the less expensive alternatives.

  20. Interesting and illuminating, and I'm sorry you had to put up with all that. Customer Service is such a misnomer, it's usually Customer Deflection. I say you should follow brismod's advice and pursue it further - it's just too lousy an experience to let it go.

  21. millie, personally i've never heard of smeg, but you can bet if i ever come across a smeg for sale, i won't buy it!! sorry for your pain. dealing with customer service reps sometimes is just awful. better luck with the next one! pam

    ps although i was truly feeling your pain, your letter practically left me in tears, laughing tears that is. you do have a way with words.

  22. Holy hell what a mess. That is just appalling dear Millie. So pleased your hand is intact though!!!

    I've read all the comments so I'm in the know about what other brands to avoid as I buy my new stove.

    go and kick some butt girl, this post is a good start!!


And none will hear the postman's knock
Without a quickening of the heart.
For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?
~W.H. Auden

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