Guarantees in Mexico are not necessarily guarantees. It’s a game of Survivor; outwit and outlast.
When we built our house a few years ago we installed a stainless steel side-by-side GE Profile ice-making refrigerator. Through a series of power bumps and power brownouts it suffered electronic brain troubles that wiped out the ice-maker.
Not the end of the world, unless you happen to have a spouse that needs ice. Not just likes ice, or enjoys ice, but really needs ice for his sodas or the occasional glass of single-malt whisky.
We contacted the Cancún Sears service department for repairs and eventually the technician arrived with a new motherboard. Plug and play. Simple.
The next time the motherboard frizzed out Lawrie took the offending part into Sears and asked for a replacement piece. They said that unless their technician installed the part, they could not guarantee it.
Buying the part was a cheaper fix than using the Sears technicians, but even with quoting the model number the new part didn’t fit the refrigerator. We took it back to Sears: “Sorry, it’s not returnable.”
Not willing to admit defeat Lawrie figured out how to coax the original motherboard back to life for another year. We finally gave up on refrigerator No. 1 and purchased the exact same GE Profile through the local Chedraui Super Store.
It fits the space in our kitchen and has the same plumbed-in ice-maker. We are all set for another five years. Sparkling new, no rust or corroded electronics to fight with. We splurged on an expensive surge protector in hopes of keeping this refrigerator alive longer.
Around the middle of November we noticed that frozen things weren’t staying frozen, yet this refrigerator was only seven months old. I confidently took my receipt to the customer service desk at Chedraui.
The manager and the electronics manager explained to us the Chedraui guarantee is only good for two weeks; anything longer than that we must deal with the authorized GE service center in Cancún. The electronics manager called ServiPlus in Cancún to schedule an appointment for us.
We waited through Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and after my eighth phone call the technician arrived on Monday. The diagnosis: we need a new compressor. He would be back on Saturday. And yes, the parts and service call will be covered by the guarantee.
We forgot to ask which Saturday. And what month? And, as it turns out, what year?
I continued to telephone ServiPlus in Cancún three times a week. I can be very persistent. Tomorrow, next week, soon were the consistent answers. After 20 stumbling Spanglish telephone conversations I enlisted the help of a Spanish-speaking friend. He made another 20-plus calls to what we had renamed ServiMinus.
He smiled and said, “This is Mexico. You have to keep calling until they give in.”
Eventually a miracle happened. We received a telephone call from ServiPlus in Mexico City. The young woman said we would be receiving a replacement GE Profile refrigerator February 7, 11 weeks after ours had died.
We were ecstatic. A new refrigerator, and we’d have been happy with just a new compressor.
Foolish me. Never, ever, tempt the gods.
No refrigerator on Thursday. By Friday afternoon I had finally reached the end of my patience. I didn’t have the telephone number of the person in Mexico City so I called the Cancún office and vented my frustration. I demanded a return call within 10 minutes giving me the exact date for the delivery of the new refrigerator.
The woman from Mexico City called back within 11 minutes: the GE Profile would be delivered on Monday morning, February 11. It was! Would we purchase another GE Profile, GE Cafe, Mabe or Easy appliance? Probably not because we would end up dealing with the frustrating, stonewalling tactics of ServiPlus.
We have several island friends who have had different frustrating experiences with warranty claims such as returning a new but broken coffee pot to WalMart, the customer finally pointing at the overhead sign: WalMart makes everything right with our customers.
Another friend had a new dryer delivered, non-functioning, from Sam’s Club with lint in the lint-trap and someone else’s socks still inside the drum. This same friend was the recipient of a new washing machine delivered broken. Her handyman husband fixed it rather than face the inevitable delays for the warranty service.
But in the end, what does it really matter? We are lucky enough to be able to afford a new appliance. Others are happy that their children are well, they have food on the table, a roof overhead and the sun is shining.
That’s the very best guarantee.
The writers are Canadians who have been full-time residents of Isla Mujeres for eight years. You can read their blog here.