Beko. I always want to sing that song by Peter Gabriel from the movie about the South African freedom fighter when I look at my new fridge freezer. But the anti-apartheid activist was Biko, and the appliance manufacturer is, in fact, pronounced Becko.
I know this because I’ve just had to ring the Beko customer services line after my new fridge freezer started pooling water around every orifice.
‘Good afternoon, welcome to Beko customer services,’ said the lady.
I wanted to say ‘Beeeeko, Beeko, Beeeko-o-o. Beeko.’ But I didn’t.
‘Hello,’ I said, ‘my new fridge freezer isn’t working.’
‘When did you buy it and where?’ she said, as if she’d done this too many times.
‘I bought it two months ago from Currys.’
‘That’s no good,’ she snapped. ‘We need the exact date of purchase.’
‘Well, I can’t tell you the exact date until I look on my credit card statement. But I do remember it was the first week of June.’
‘Nothing I can do until you tell me the exact date.’
‘Do you want to wait while I look it up?’
‘No, you’ll have to call back. What’s wrong with it anyway?’
I explained it was pooling water in the drain hole and the overflow tray.
‘Have you got any items of food touching the inside of the back of the fridge? Because that would be your fault and would invalidate the guarantee.’
‘I haven’t, no. I’m very particular about how I arrange the food in the fridge. But really? Food touching the fridge wall invalidates your guarantee?’
‘It would do, yes. Have you tried putting the plunger into the drain hole?’
I told her yes, I had got the tiny pokey thing out of the instructions bag and poked it into the little hole I never knew existed at the back of the fridge until it started overflowing with water. And no, that had done nothing to stop it flooding. ‘Have you tried boiling water and lemon juice?’
‘Funnily enough no.’
‘Well until you try those things we wouldn’t help you.’
‘Talk me through this?’
‘Just pour hot water into the hole and then pour some lemon in.’
‘Fresh lemon, or…?’
‘Jif, you know, because it’s acid, isn’t it? It’ll dissolve any stuck bits of food.’
‘I’m sorry, this all sounds most unlikely. You see, the fridge is brand new. It’s pristine. Gleaming. No bits of food stuck anywhere.’
‘Well you’ll have to get an engineer out then.’
‘Yes, I would like to.’
‘I’ll need the date you bought it.’
‘Fine. I’ll call you back.’
‘Yeah, ’cos if you don’t have it, that will invalidate your guarantee.’
‘Will it invalidate my guarantee if my name has three consonants in it?’
‘Will it invalidate my guarantee if I say out loud a sentence with five consecutive ands in it?’
‘You might say no such sentence exists but, you see, my friend was renovating his pub, The Pig and Whistle, and he got a sign maker to paint him a new sign. But when he’d finished there was too much space between pig and and and and and whistle. There, does that invalidate my guarantee?’
She intimated I was not taking things seriously. ‘Will not taking things seriously invalidate my guarantee?’
I had to hang up. I looked up the date and got back on the line.
‘Hello, Beko customer services, how can I help you?’ said a different voice.
‘My fridge isn’t working.’
‘What’s the matter with it?’
‘It’s pooling water.’
‘Pooling. It’s pooling water in the drain hole and the overflow tray.’
‘Have you tried cleaning out the drain hole?’
I told her all about the other call.
‘Oh dear. Can you tell me again exactly what she said about the lemon. And what did you do?’
‘Oh no you don’t. I’m not telling you whether I did or I didn’t do the thing with the lemon because I can’t be sure your colleague didn’t set me up. She could be stitching me up like a kipper with her boiling water and Jif lemon trick, then you tell me you’re sorry but because I’ve done that I’ve invalidated my guarantee.’ ‘Er, well…’ She sounded guilty.
‘In fact, would it just be easier for you to list what I can do that won’t invalidate my guarantee? Is what you’re saying, broadly, that I can give birth to a child named Xerox, eat my own dog on toast and swim backwards to America and you’ll be happy to fix my fridge, but anything else I might do or say in the field of human endeavour will invalidate the guarantee? Is that what you’re saying?’
She booked me an engineer and warned me that if he came and it wasn’t a manufacturer problem I would have to pay.