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Welcome to customer services, Guantanamo Bay-style

I was all but strapped to a sloping board with a wet towel over my airways

11 August 2018

9:00 AM

11 August 2018

9:00 AM

The engineer from Beko arrived and got to work trying to mend the new fridge.

Having spent a very long time on the phone to customer services being grilled about my part in its apparent downfall, I was under no illusions that he was going to try and pin this on me.

During two extremely unpleasant calls to an 0333 number, I had been subjected to a series of interrogations worthy of Guantanamo Bay.

Trick questions abounded, and the chilling impression was given that they knew I would incriminate myself, it was just a matter of time. And they had all the time in the world. They could keep me on the line asking me baffling details about my fridge until I tripped up and let slip that I had done something that invalidated the warranty.

Because I had done nothing to the fridge apart from buy it, have it delivered, switch it on and place some food items inside it, I was at a loss to know how to respond to their hostile line of questioning.

They accused me of shoving food up against the inside back wall (the cardinal sin of fridge management); they accused me of being unreasonable because I couldn’t say instantly exactly when I had bought it, and of stretching all credulity when I asked if I might go and look at my credit card statements.


They accused me of not doing enough to unblock the drain hole properly; they expressed unalloyed shock and amazement that I had not yet put Jif lemon juice and hot water down it to dissolve all the bits of rotten food that were obviously blocking it up because I had followed questionable food storage practices.

They told me that no, they wouldn’t wait on the line while I tried to read the serial number. If I didn’t know it off by heart, they implied, what sort of person was I? Bent, obviously. Lying, patently. Did I even have a new fridge? Very unlikely, they inferred.

They tried everything short of screaming, ‘Now listen to me, you stinking piece of crap! You’ve ruined that fridge yourself, haven’t you? Haven’t you? Come on! Say it! Tell us what you’ve done to it! We’re going find out anyway and when we do you’ll be sorry!’

And then, when all else had failed and I still refused to admit what I had done, because I hadn’t done it, they grudgingly said that they would send an engineer but I should know that if he came and the problem was not the manufacturer’s fault then I would be billed.

‘And we hope you’re happy now our poor engineer is going to have to take time out of his busy working day to visit your filthy abode and fix your putrid fridge full of rotting food, you snivelling excuse for a household appliance owner. You make us sick!’ they so obviously wanted to scream.

As it happened, the engineer was a cheerful soul and within five minutes of dutifully checking all the usual ways an unsuspecting consumer might be said to have broken their new fridge within two months of purchasing it, he declared: ‘There’s something very wrong here.’

‘You’re darn tootin’ there’s something wrong,’ I said, for despite the fridge being turned to the coldest setting there was water pouring out of every orifice and pooling so fast in the overflow tray at the back that if he wasn’t going to fix it I was going to have to put a horse trough down there to catch the ‘drips’.

After fiddling about for a bit longer, he took the pipe off the back to find that the drainage system was blocked with something — I can’t remember its name — that they inject into the fridge during the manufacturing process.

Slam dunk 100 per cent Beko’s fault. As such, it would have been nice to get a little phone call the next day from one of those ladies at the customer service centre, to say, you know, ‘we’re sorry we all but strapped you to a sloping board with a wet towel over your airways and poured large quantities of water over your face’.

‘One thing,’ the nice man said as he was leaving. ‘I would advise you never to place any food items…’

‘Against the back wall of the fridge,’ I completed. ‘Yes, I know. I understand all about that now. And thank you. I’m really grateful to have been enlightened.’

I mean it. I think it’s fair to say that for me now, putting food against the back wall of the fridge is right up there with drink driving and questioning the state of Israel. I’m never going to do it. Not until hell freezes over. And it’s not likely to if Beko has anything to do with it.


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