Kitchen appliances

What happens to broken kitchen appliances when they are returned to retailers?

The fate of returned kitchen appliances that are still under warranty has been revealed.

A secret investigation by Consumer NZ using GPS trackers showed that a cheap food mixer from The Warehouse ($80) and one from Kmart ($75) went straight to the dump unchecked.

The food mixer had an easy repair as the Consumer NZ team had simply disconnected a single wire from the power supply. One of the investigators, Tom Riste-Smith, said “nobody opened the box, nobody looked at them, they were just buried in a big hole in the ground”.

Fair Go took a cheap blender with an identical defect to a repair café lover. Without knowing what the problem was, Richard Ford opened the device and was able to locate and fix the fault within minutes. He is appalled that a new mixer that only needs a simple repair job can be thrown away without any checking.

“It’s a real problem, it has value, it shouldn’t be thrown away.”

Kmart did not respond to Fair Go when we asked for an explanation. The warehouse responded, saying it works with a third-party national return center that assesses all devices returned under their warranty to decide whether they should be repaired, recycled or discarded.

He admits that in this case it didn’t happen and says he will learn from the experience and keep improving his service.

The New Zealand consumer is not surprised that these two cheap food mixers have gone straight to landfill. Riste-Smith pointed out that “realistically an $80 blender won’t be repaired, there’s no markup for that, but I think companies should incorporate the cost of recycling as part of their social responsibility “.

The Consumer NZ team replicated the same flaw in two other more expensive blenders – a Breville from Briscoes ($450) and a Kenwood/De’Longhi from Farmers ($740, but bought for $520 on sale).

GPS trackers showed these devices lying around their respective stores for several weeks.

Then the two articles were tracked to Auckland. The Breville blender went straight to an Appliance Outlet store that repairs, refurbishes, and resells these products.

Investigator Paul Smith told Fair Go “we’ve seen these blenders return for sale on their website for $150, their full price is $450, so someone could get a good deal buying a refurbished blender at brand new with full warranty for $150”. It’s the best case scenario.

Briscoes told Fair Go it encourages all of its suppliers to repair and resell to a third party after devices have been thoroughly checked for safety.

The even more expensive Kenwood Food Mixer stopped at Auckland Airport at an NZ Post courier depot. The team thought it might be going overseas for repairs, but soon after it was taken to an appliance recycling center and disassembled for parts. Although this is better than being thrown away, it is not as durable as repairing and reselling the item.

A statement from De’Longhi, owner of the Kenwood brand, says its repair and resale service will be expanded from Australia to New Zealand over the next 12 months. He adds that at present all products are sent to a recycling initiative, rather than going to landfill.

Consumer NZ would like to point out the problem of too many devices going to landfill unnecessarily. He wants companies to take action, but Smith also has this advice for consumers who want to do their part.

“I would say don’t go to The Warehouse or Kmart where you’ll get a cheap blender that if broken will go straight to the landfill, instead go to a place like Appliance Outlet where you can get one that’s refurbished as it prevents another device from being thrown away and you will also get a better blender for the price.