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Consumer: Mr Chris Tatton
Company: Empire Direct - www.empiredirect.co.uk
Date: 10 October 2001

On the 31st of July I received an order confirmation from www.empiredirect.com (order reference given) for a Portable Panasonic Minidisc Recorder. After about 5 weeks I started noticing that very intermittantly it would pause in the middle of a random track for about a second for no reason at all,this was not limited to one minidisk and was not limited to one brand of minidisk, but as mentioned it was random and intermittent.

So on the 15th September 2001 I sent info@empiredirect.co.uk and email informing them how impressed I was with them so far, but I had a problem with the unit, what could they do. I have since found they finally sent an email to this email address on 21st September. I spoke to them today on the 27th September and asked them could they replace the unit. They informed me that because it was after 28 days, the unit could not be replaced, only repaired.

I was not too happy about this, surely this implies that after 28 days it is deemed Okay for the unit to develop a fault or defect. I do not think this unit is of a satisfactory quality. Not only this I was informed that either I had to pay for the unit to be shipped back to them or they would post an invoice which would allow for me to go to a Panasonic approved mortar and bricks store and have them repair it. After complaining that I should be offered a new unit (obviously a defective machine), they offered to pay for and arrange the pickup of the unit
from me to be delivered to them for their engineers to look at and repair.

I was not happy with this and spoke to Lynn the Customer Services manager who confirmed this was the best they could do (a repair).

So the scenario they have offered is that I send them a unit with an intermittent and random fault which their engineers will take a look at over four days. Lynn said if they found a fault they would replace the unit, but if they found no fault the the unit would be returned to me as is. She could not say how many times we might be sending the unit back and forth - do I have to wait for the unit to pack up completely???

The other concern I have is ambiguous nature of their terms and conditions which is as follows:

Product Guarantees
All products supplied are covered by the terms and
conditions of the Manufacturer's Guarantee for a
period of 12 months. This guarantee specifically
excludes faults caused by accident, neglect, and
misuse. In addition routine maintenance (cleaning of
dirty audio/video heads etc), consumables (styli, plug
fuses, cables, batteries, etc), cosmetic damage and
tuning of channels is not covered. THE FULL COST OF
affect any statutory rights that you may have.

I asked Lynn if I would be charged, she said she could not say.!!!! Which implies that should they not find this intermittent fault I will be charged. Also if they do find a fault there is a case of force majeure caused by accident, neglect and misuse, which after the way I have been treated so far I think they will use (the unit has been treated with the utmost respect!).

Please can you look into the case. Surely after 46 days I deserve at least an identical

Chris Tatton

Editor's Note:

Editor's Note: A Right of Reply email was sent to Robert Mucha, Sales Manager for Empire Direct, and find reply below:

Company Response on 15 October 2001

"In response to the complaint raised by our customer, Mr Tatton, I would
duly like to thank the editor for allowing us the right of reply. I say
this, because what Mr Tatton fails to relay to the readers is the fact that
Empire Direct has offered a full refund or replacement, irrespective of
whether or not a fault is found with the unit.

We have requested that Mr Tatton returns the unit to us, and upon receipt we
will issue immediate credit / replacement. There will be no inspection, no
repair, and most definitely no charges.

I fail to see where this is reason for complaint.

Yours sincerely
Empire Direct Sales Manager
Editor's Note: We have asked Mr Tatton to comment