First, the MasterCare story of last week. I reported that the national appliance repair plan company, having failed to repair appliances timeously on a grand scale for some time, had lost the contract to repair the appliances owned by some 70 000 Edgars and Jet account holders who had appliance repair plans.
Consumers pay MasterCare a set sum every month to cover their household appliances, either in a direct contract with MasterCare, or via retailers such as Edcon.
If an appliance breaks, the owner reports this to MasterCare, and what’s supposed to happen is that one of the company’s repair agents responds quickly, and gets the appliance repaired, free of charge.
But in many cases, particularly in the past two years or so, MasterCare has been taking many weeks – often many months – to repair appliances, mostly blaming unavailability of spares for the delays.
In reality, some spares suppliers have refused to do further business with MasterCare due to lack of payment.
On May 30, one of MasterCare’s three directors, Hennie Kruger, told Consumer Alert that the company’s recent restructuring exercise was largely to blame for its “service issues”.
What he failed to mention was the fact that on May 22, MasterCare elected to go under business rescue, as an alternative to liquidation, in terms of the Companies Act.
In other words, MasterCare itself has broken down and has had to go in for repair.
The appointed business rescue practitioner Neill Hobbs, who is now effectively running the company, told Consumer Alert last week that he was fully aware of the shocking number of unfulfilled repairs countrywide, and said he had brought in an operations team to deal with the backlog as soon as possible.
Hobbs has raised funding to reopen accounts with spares suppliers, have telephones reconnected and upgrade the “grossly inadequate” call centre.
“I am disappointed that customers have been so badly let down and am absolutely committed to repairing relationships and dramatically lifting service levels,” he said.
Hobbs certainly has his work cut out for him.
Last Thursday, Kerry Herschel of Durban, who has had a MasterCare contract for 18 years, told me about her “Masterscare” experience.
Three weeks ago, the drum on her LG washing machine collapsed. She called MasterCare, but they kept saying they had no vehicles available to collect it, so Herschel’s husband delivered the machine to the Springfield Park branch.
She got a call two weeks ago to say the drum was repaired, but they had no stock of the bearings needed to complete the job.
“I told them to wait until the end of that week and if they still did not have the bearings, to just return my machine,” Herschel said.
“We never heard from them again.”
When her husband went to collect the machine last week, he found the offices locked up and deserted.
“We have left messages for the regional manager and even one of the directors in Johannesburg, but we’re still in the dark,” she said.
Hobbs undertook to investigate.
If you have a MasterCare contract and you’re currently waiting for an appliance to be repaired, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and copy this to email@example.com
Include your policy number and all the relevant details of your case, including dates.
You can also fax the company on 011 388 8209.
Edcon account holders who have appliance repair plans can contact Product Warrant Solutions at 0861 475 475.