Cuisinart Customer Service Doesn't Bother To Read Own Warranty

After receiving a ten-piece cookware set with one pan damaged right out of the box, Drew’s girlfriend knew that she wanted to replace it. That’s what warranties are for! He tells Consumerist that when they tried to send that pan back to Cuisinart for replacement (instead of shipping the entire set back to Amazon, which seemed wasteful) customer service staff insisted that while the product’s warranty might say something, that doesn’t actually make it true.

My girlfriend recently received the Cuisinart Chef’s Classic Stainless
Cookware 10 piece set
as a gift from her parents. Soon after taking
the cookware out of the box, she noticed that the rim of the sauté pan
was dented.

The cookware set was purchased from Amazon, so returning it would
entail repacking the items and shipping everything to Amazon in
exchange for a set without a damaged sauté pan. Since only that one
item was damaged, it seemed logical and most efficient to ship the pan
to Cusinart to be repaired or replaced.

After reading Cuisinart’s warranty, which includes special provisions
for “California residents only,” she was further convinced that
returning just the damaged pan to Cuisinart was the appropriate course
of action. (We live in Los Angeles.) The warranty states:
“California residents may also, according to their preference, return
nonconforming products directly to Cuisinart for repair, or if
necessary replacement, by calling our Customer Center at
1-800-726-0190. Cuisinart will be responsible for the cost of the
repair, replacement and shipping and handling for such non-conforming
products under warranty.”

My girlfriend asked me to call Cuisinart the following day to arrange
to have the sauté pan shipped to them to be repaired or replaced. The
next morning I put in a call to Cuisinart customer center and was told
by the first representative I spoke with (I would eventually speak to
three including a supervisor) there was no such provision for
California residents. She said my girlfriend would have to pay to ship
the item to them as well as include $7.00 to have the item shipped
back. (Note: This is an item that has never been used and most likely
left their factory damaged.)

I didn’t have the warranty in front of me and thought that maybe by
girlfriend had misread it. I told the representative I would call back
later. After retrieving the warranty and reading it for myself, I
realized my girlfriend was right and the customer center
representative’s statement that no California provision existed was
completely wrong.

With the warranty in my hand I called back. This time the customer
service representative I spoke with admitted (after putting me on hold
for 5 minutes) that there was a warranty provision that called on the
company to pay for all shipping and handling of “non-conforming”
items. But she said that section of the warranty was referencing a
California consumer protection statue that only applied to electronic
items.

This response seemed odd. The “California residents only” provision
was in the warranty pamphlet that was included with the cookware set.
The warranty pamphlet was not a generic Cuisinart warranty that
referred to multiple items including electronics. In fact, the
pamphlet had a picture of the cookware on the cover and included
instructions for how to clean it. I asked the customer service
representative to read to me a copy of the warranty, line-by-line, and
then show me any reference to electronic appliances. She said she
could not read the warranty to me because she didn’t have a copy of
it. Apparently, the first rungs of Cuisinart customer service are
experts in California consumer protection laws but don’t get copies of
the company’s own warranties.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. After about 10 minutes on hold, the
supervisor came on the line. She had a copy of the warranty. The
supervisor read through the whole warranty (at my request), but she
conveniently left out the provision under the “California residents
only” heading that states Cuisinart will pay for the shipping and
handling of “non-conforming products under warranty.” I pointed out
her oversight, and after a few moments of silence she said as a
“courtesy” she would waive the $7.00 fee to cover the cost of
Cuisinart shipping the item after it had been serviced or replaced. In
my estimation there was nothing courteous about having to argue with
three different customer service representatives over 30 minutes to
get a $7.00 fee that according to their warranty shouldn’t apply. And
after all that my girlfriend would still have to pay to have the
damaged item shipped to Cuisinart.

In the end, she elected to repack all the items and return the whole
set to Amazon. Also out the door: Any expectation that logic (or
warranties) hold any sway at Cuisinart.