Why won’t Samsung or John Lewis pay for the damage to my kitchen?

Manufacturer and retailer refuse compensation after washer-dryer leak caused a flood

In February I purchased a Samsung washer dryer from John Lewis to be installed in a house I was buying. After a delay completing on the property, it was finally installed in April.

Less than two weeks later there was a minor leak, and then a problem with the machine’s motherboard. After some faffing about John Lewis agreed to send a replacement machine – the same model – which was delivered in May.

By the end of July the replacement had leaked as well, only this time it flooded my kitchen causing major damage to the laminate floor, underlay and the subfloor.

John Lewis went back and forth, again passing the issue from department to department, and it eventually agreed to send me a replacement – an AEG model which has been fine ever since.

Since then, I have been battling to get someone to pay for the damage which I’ve been quoted between £763 and £983 to fix, depending on labour time and materials.

John Lewis sent the claim to Samsung which rejected it and said it wasn’t liable. John Lewis then responded saying that it wasn’t going to pay for the damage, either. On John Lewis’s website people have left reviews of this model saying that their machine had leaked, too.

Samsung claims that we damaged the washer drum by including keys or a coin in a wash, which, even if it was true, would be absurd.

I believe there is a genuine design flaw in the model of Samsung I purchased, which I note the store has since stopped selling.

NA, Sheffield

I initially thought this would be fairly easy to resolve given that all you are claiming is £760, but that has not been the case.

Both John Lewis and Samsung have refused to help. Despite the fact that you had two machines (both model number WD90T534DBN) that have both leaked, the companies are claiming, as you say, that the second leak was not a manufacturing fault, but came from damage to the drum caused by a set of keys or a coin being put in with some clothes.

They say that “a full engineer inspection proved that no manufacturing issues are responsible for the damage”.

You argue that they have produced no evidence, and note that there is a class action in the US in which owners claim Samsung has used poor quality steel in its drums which, in turn, has caused failures.

Citizens Advice advises consumers in your position to seek redress from the retailer from which you bought the item.

Gather as much evidence as you can of other models similarly leaking and file a small claim online.

In the meantime, other Samsung machine owners need to be aware of how sensitive their machines can be.

I would argue that a washing machine that can be damaged by a pound coin or similar is not fit for purpose.

It is telling that you have had no problems since you switched to AEG. Good luck. We’ll report the outcome in due course.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Consumer Champions, Money, the Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions.

Contributor

Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

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