These days buying surge protection plugs are practically a no-brainer. They are supposed to protect our appliances when lightning strikes or power supply surges and they come with warranties that involve payouts if appliances are damaged. What many consumers may not be aware of is that there are a number of conditions attaching to these warranties and unless your claim fits within some pretty tight parameters, you may find yourself with fried appliances and no warranty to fall back on. I received an email from a community leader recently with such a story:
During the storm on Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, our home was struck by lightening. On investigation, I discovered that, even though I had bought Africa Surge lightening protection plugs, a router, fax and computer had been damaged. The packaging of the plug states that there is a R20,000 warranty if your stuff is damaged by lightening. Great, I thought, and contacted Africa Surge via the middleman who sold me the plugs.
They have refused to pay any compensation.
Firstly, because they say it cannot happen that a lightening strike will damage your stuff if you use their plugs. I say it did – I know it did!
Secondly, they say I cannot be paid out because I didn’t fill in the warranty form inside each packet. I didn’t fill in the warranty form – because none of the 3 plugs/packets I bought contained such a form. And I had pretty good proof. Fortunately I had bought 3 plugs and only used 2, so one plug was still in the packaging – without any warranty inside. When I returned the packet, Africa Surge claimed that the middleman must have carefully removed each form from the packet and therefore rejected my claim; though how and why the middleman would do such a thing is beyond me.
As things stand, despite buying quite expensive ‘guaranteed’ Africa Surge plugs, I have suffered damage Africa Surge refuses to compensate me for.
I received a copy of the warranty claim form this person sent to me. It doesn’t exactly support an impression that the company concerned stands firmly behind its product and instead looks to just about every possible way out of paying, including your own insurers.
When this consumer challenged the company’s assertions regarding the plugs’ apparent failure, they got back to him with a list of conditions:
They require a Certificate of Compliance for the house (my house hasn’t been sold in the time since that legal requirement was introduced), 3 (!) quotes for repairs, then they will do full tests on the units, then consider a payment…
There may be a sound contractual basis for the company’s approach (I’m being generous here, I haven’t seen any terms and conditions and it appears that these may not always be included in packaging) but taking such an obstructive line is just terrible marketing and bordering on aggressive. Promoting these plugs as being covered by these warranties without advising consumers which hoops they have to jump through to qualify for the payout is misleading.
My advice is to make sure you have backup home insurance to cover your appliances in the very real likelihood that these companies refuse to honour their warranties.
Image credit: Lightning1 by Aquila, licensed CC BY NC 2.0