It angered Matthew Scothorn to discover that his Franke water monitor devices didn’t work. He’d been a loyal customer of Franke for many years and had always received high-quality service. But he made an even more shocking discovery when he asked Franke for help. Franke’s customer service knew all along that the devices malfunctioned — and planned to keep selling them.
Scothorn then embarked on a months-long quest for a refund for the purchase and installation of the devices. But Franke refused to help him. Why was Franke willing to throw away a positive relationship with a long-time customer? Why was it risking its own reputation by selling products that didn’t work? And could Elliott Advocacy refresh the relationship by securing a refund for Scothorn?
A brand he thought he could trust
In 2019, Scothorn began a six-month project to completely remodel his home. This project involved selecting and installing new appliances, fixtures and plumbing. Scothorn opted to buy brands he had previously used, which he felt provided good quality and service. His purchases included a water filtration system from Franke, a brand to which he had been loyal for 15 years.
Scothorn purchased two faucets, a water heater with filters, and a device called the FM100 from Franke for over $700. This latter item, meant to be used with an app called StillPure, provides readings on water and filter usage.
At least, that’s what Scothorn was led to believe when he purchased it.
Although he made several attempts to get his FM100 and StillPure app to work, he never succeeded. He tried uninstalling and reinstalling the app, but the Franke devices still didn’t work. So he asked Franke’s customer service for help.
A shocking admission from Franke
Franke’s customer service representatives told Scothorn that the FM100 “never really worked” and that Franke was discontinuing the StillPure app. The representatives offered Scothorn as a courtesy a free filter replacement for the filtration canister.
Scothorn asked the representatives if Franke was still selling the FM100. The answer horrified him: Franke simply planned to sell its remaining FM100 inventory and then stop offering it.
No, the company had not notified its distributors and suppliers that these Franke devices didn’t work. Nor was it planning to do so.
Then Scothorn asked the representatives whether it was safe to have an inactive water monitor. They didn’t answer his question.
And Franke would not offer Scothorn a refund. Instead, it sent him an additional water filter. When he asked Franke to remove the water filter and uninstall the FM100, the company refused.
Shouldn’t Franke stop selling devices that don’t work?
“Why is Franke selling things that they know do not work simply because they still have stock?” Scothorn asks. “Shouldn’t it recall the items or at the very least tell suppliers to stop selling them?”
When merchants like Franke sell goods to the public, the goods come with implied warranties, or legal promises. One is the implied warranty of merchantability: that the goods in question work as intended. Another is the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose: that the buyer is relying on the seller to provide goods that meet the buyer’s needs.
By selling the FM100 and StillPure app to the public, Franke is implying that they monitor water filter usage as advertised. Franke’s decision to sell these products, knowing they don’t work, violates the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose. As Scothorn points out, Franke should take its remaining unsold devices off the market rather than letting its suppliers continue to offer them.
Such disclaimers may or may not be enforceable. But for Franke to refuse to issue refunds for its devices that don’t work is bad customer service, plain and simple. So Scothorn turned to Elliott Advocacy.
Could Elliott Advocacy extract a refund out of this sludge?
Our advocate Dwayne Coward contacted Franke on Scothorn’s behalf.
Franke then reached out to Scothorn with a 180-degree change in attitude. Its representatives promised to refund Scothorn for the purchase and installation costs. In addition, the company would pay for removal of the Franke devices that didn’t work.
If you’ve been sold a bill of goods
Here’s what you can do if you’ve been unsuccessful in obtaining refunds from companies for goods that don’t work as intended:
- Don’t use the telephone. Instead, email or write to the company’s lowest-ranking customer service representative. Executive contact information for many companies is available in the Contacts section of our website. (This information was still pending for Franke as of this writing.)
- Allow that person 10 to 14 days to respond. Then escalate to the next higher-ranking executive if you don’t receive a satisfactory response. Repeat this procedure up the corporate hierarchy.
- Enclose a solid paper trail of your receipts, emails, confirmations, and all other documentation of your interactions with the company. You’ll need it to establish your case.
- Observe the three Ps of consumer advocacy — patience, persistence and politeness — in all your communications with the company. That last P in particular is extremely important. Your letters aren’t the place for accusations, shouting, sarcasm or threats.
If you’re still getting nowhere, you can also take the following steps. These are nuclear options, so we advise them only as last resorts:
- Post negative reviews on social media and Internet review sites.
- Contact local news media about your case.
- File complaints with trade organizations or appropriate government agencies.
- Dispute the charges if you used a credit card to make your purchases.
- Sue the company.
But before you go nuclear, come to Elliott Advocacy. Our advocates are ready to help you!