Too-short fridge cable baffles buyer, store takes action

2014-03-11 00:00

DURBAN consumer Charmayne Arnold bought a KIC fridge at OK Furniture in Berea Centre, but was surprised to discover after it was delivered that the power cable was too short to reach the wall socket.

Arnold said the manufacturer’s manual advised against using an extension cable longer than three metres and she had struggled to find an adaptor with a cord of the required thickness.

“The power cable on my old Defy is 1,74 metres long and the one on this fridge is only 1,4 metres. We have never had a problem before as we just plugged it in. I got a shock that it doesn’t fit,” Arnold said.

She said she ran the fridge, empty, for a couple of hours using a 1,3 m extension cable but in the end was worried about the safety of the electrical set-up and about having cables running on the kitchen floor.

Arnold contacted the store manager, who she said had told her she was the only customer who had a problem with the length of the cable on that model fridge. Arnold said he advised her that it was unlikely the manufacturer would take back the appliance on this ground.

“I know this is an old flat and so this [the socket] is high and new flats are lower but they should have warned us. I wonder why they made it so short. Maybe they think it is saving on electricity but how is it going to save their pocket?”

Arnold’s complaint got me thinking and when I checked my own fridge at home I realised that I would also have had a problem with the 1,4 m cable as there is only one suitable spot to position the fridge.

KIC’s service centre responded to my e-mailed questions after call centre staff declined to escalate my calls to management.

“A supply cord of 1,4 m is a Whirlpool standard. As KIC is a brand of Whirlpool, KIC complies to the standard used by Whirlpool. We have never received a complaint regarding the length of both KIC and Whirlpool supply cords,” KIC said.

“According to the International Standard IEC 60335-1 adopted by the SABS there is no minimum nor maximum specified length for the power supply cord.”

When I contacted Aubrey Karp, managing director of OK Furniture he said the KIC fridge was “fit for purpose” in terms of the Consumer Protection Act and in terms of the South African Bureau of Standards regulations.

“All appliances in South Africa have to comply with standards set by the South African Bureau of Standards, (SABS) and a compliance certificate is issued for each product manufactured, or imported into South Africa,” Karp said.

Karp said OK Furniture had investigated the complaint with KIC, which had responded saying the SABS did not set a minimum requirement for the length of the power cable. However, he said KIC added that one requirement was that the cord should not exceed more than three metres on a fridge unit that draws between 220 to 240 volts.

“All KIC fridges come with standard length cable and we have not recently changed these specifications in any way.”

Karp added that the consumer had not raised the issue of the location of the plug point at the time of the sale.

“The fridge is compliant with SABS regulations and the contract was explained to the customer, so in reality OK Furniture has no obligation to take back the fridge,” Karp said. “However, as a reputable company and with a view to retaining customer patronage, we have as a gesture of goodwill, cancelled the transaction and have refunded the customer’s deposit.”

Arnold said she was relieved that the company had agreed to take the fridge back saying the store manager had been “very helpful” in facilitating the return.

“I think they should lengthen the cords. They are not thinking of the customer and the dangers of it, if it is not lengthened properly,” Arnold said.

• Send your consumer complaints to Lyse Comins at

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