My DeLonghi portable air conditioner was subjected to some “unnatural” forces during my previous move, and one of its caster wheels broke off.  A metal rod was protruding from the base of the unit as a result, risking damage to the floor (especially carpeting) underneath it.

Why is this a problem right now, in the middle of winter?  The unit also functions as a dehumidifier, which in this apartment is proving essential for getting washed clothes dry and stopping mould from growing on walls and windowsills.

The obvious solution: call up DeLonghi, order a replacement caster wheel and snap it on.  Estimated effort time required: 20 minutes.

Simple, right?

Note: quotes are not verbatim and have been paraphrased in some cases.

Friday June 17, 2011

Me, by phone to DeLonghi Australia: “Please help me to secure a new caster wheel for my DeLonghi Pinguino Eco PACT120 portable air conditioner.”

DeLonghi: “You will need to speak to your local DeLonghi service provider, XYZ.”

Me, by phone to XYZ: “Please help me to secure a new caster wheel for my DeLonghi Pinguino Eco PACT120 portable air conditioner.”

XYZ: “Sure—come into our office and get part DLTL1519 for $2.50.”

Saturday June 18, 2011

Me, at XYZ: “Yeah, that’s definitely not the right part.  Part DLNE1072 on the other hand has the right wheel on it, but I’m not sure about the connector.  I’ll try it anyway.  Here’s $4.50.”

No dice; the connector is indeed incorrect.

Me, by email to XYZ: “I have this air conditioner; here’s a photo.  One of its wheels has broken off from the underside; here’s a photo.  DeLonghi told me to get replacement parts from you.  I was recommended part DLTL1519 but the wheel size is incorrect; here’s a photo showing the correct wheels.  I tried part DLNE1072 but the connector is wrong; here’s a photo.  Please tell me what to do now.”

Tuesday June 21, 2011

XYZ, by email: “Give us your phone number so we can call you to discuss the 2–3 types of castor wheels in stock.”

Me: “[I don’t really see the point since I’ve given you all the info there is…but] sure, here’s my number.”

Wednesday June 22, 2011

Me, at XYZ: “Yeah, I never heard from you so I’m here in person again.  Please refund me for this incorrect part and tell me what to do next.”

XYZ: “Oh, sorry.  We didn’t call you because we never got your email response [even though you sent it to two separate people in our company].  Take part DLTL1519 instead.”

Me: “No, that’s definitely not the right part.  The wheel is too small.”

XYZ: “Are you sure you have a DeLonghi Pinguino Eco PACT120?”

Me: “Absolutely.”

XYZ: “Well, DeLonghi says that this is the right part for your unit.  If you think otherwise, you’ll need to call them.”

Me, by phone to DeLonghi: “I have this air conditioner with a broken wheel.  I’m at this local authorised service provider right now, who are telling me that I need this part.  The part is clearly not correct.  Please tell me what to do.”

DeLonghi: “My paperwork here says that that’s the right part.”

Me: “I assure you: for my case it’s not.  The wheel is the wrong size.”

DeLonghi: “Have you tried the part?”

Me: “…no.  I really don’t feel the need.”

DeLonghi: “I can escalate this issue to the Service Manager once you have tried the part and confirmed that it’s incorrect.”

Me: “Surely you can just do that now for me?  The part is the wrong size.  If I install it, the unit will be lop-sided because the other three wheels are significantly bigger.”

DeLonghi: “No.  You need to try it first.”

Me: “Great.  Thanks.”

Me, to XYZ: “I guess I’ll need to take four of these, and break off the other three perfectly good wheels so that the thing balances.”

XYZ: “Okay.  With a credit of $4.50 that’ll be $24.54.”

Me: “What?  These were quoted to me before as costing $2.50 each!”

XYZ: “Sorry—you’re mistaken.”

Me: “Whatever.  Here’s $24.54.”

Annoyingly, but unsurprisingly enough, the new casters don’t attach to the underside of the unit.

Wednesday June 29, 2011

Me, at XYZ: “I’m here with my air conditioning unit and the wheels I bought previously.  They don’t attach.  This is getting ridiculous.  Please just get someone to look at this for a few minutes.”

XYZ: “Sure, we can book it in for $99.”

Me: “Book it in?  It’s a frigging caster wheel!  Can’t you just get someone to come out here for 15 seconds to take a look?”

XYZ: “I’ll get the manager.”

XYZ manager: “Hi again.  There’s nothing we can do at this stage.  DeLonghi have told us what part you need.  You need to contact them for further advice.”

Me, to DeLonghi: “The part is wrong, like I said earlier.  What now?”

DeLonghi: “We’ll call you back in a couple days.”

XYZ manager #2: “Is this the broken wheel issue that’s been going on for weeks now?”

Me: “Yes.”

XYZ manager #2: *tips unit over to look at broken wheel*

XYZ manager #2: *brings out correctly-sized wheel from out back, complete with correct-looking metal rod*

XYZ manager #2: *fails to remove old metal rod with spanner*

XYZ manager #2: “Looks like we’ll need to open the unit up to install this wheel.  Book it in for $99 and we’ll do that for you.  We can even replace the other three wheels so that they’re all new.”

Me: “Okay, fine.”

Thursday June 30, 2011

XYZ, by phone: “Yeah, the wheel couldn’t be fitted, so we’ve contacted DeLonghi with the expectation that the entire unit will be replaced.  The service cost will now be $50 instead of $99, and the cost of the other casters you bought will be credited towards that $50 charge.”

Me: “Um, okay.”

Thursday July 7, 2011

XYZ, by phone: “Yeah, the new unit has arrived for you.  Come in at your leisure to collect it.  The service cost will be $99, which is pretty good given that you’ll be walking away with a brand spanking new unit, don’t you think?”

Me: “Um, okay.”

Friday July 8, 2011

Me, at XYZ: “I’m here to pick up my air conditioner.”

XYZ: “Here you go.  That’ll be $99.”

Me: “I’d also like to be refunded for the wheels I purchased previously, and then left with you when I dropped off my old unit.”

XYZ: “Didn’t we already process that?”

Me: “No.”

XYZ: “Okay.  That’ll be $74.46.”

Me: *fails to realise, until typing up this post, that the charge should have been $99 − $24.54 − $4.50 = $69.96*

Me: “Thanks.”

Me, after unpacking the new unit at home: “FFS!!  This unit has only 80% of the cooling capacity of my old unit, has no removable condensation collection tank, doesn’t allow you to set a relative humidity and can’t dehumidify a room unless the window is open?!  %$£@&*#!!!  How the hell am I supposed to dry out the air in the apartment if I have to draw in wet, cold air from outside?!

Joseph Ducreux in his punchline pose

So after all this, I still can’t decide whether I’ve won or lost, or whether it’s even over yet.

The whole point of trying to get the old unit fixed was so that I could wheel it around to dehumidify the apartment.  Unlike my old unit though, this replacement unit can’t dehumidify without being connected to a window and expelling moist air outside—which in turn requires drawing air from outside to replace the expelled air.  This defeats the entire purpose of dehumidifying the air inside in the first place.  Seriously, is there any situation where a dehumidification process like this would be useful?

DeLonghi seems to think so, evidently.