I purchased a Samsung washing machine and Samsung refrigerator in September 2017 for the princely sum of €2013.
After just one month, both items became faulty, and this is when I discovered that the serial numbers had been removed from both items. As a result, Samsung could not assist me directly, and I was forced to go through Welhof for a resolution. I was outside of the returns period, so I could not return the items.
Just over one year later, the refrigerator broke down, and Welhof refused to help me because it was outside of the guarantee period. Unbeknown to me at the time, they were legally obliged to repair or replace the item under Dutch law due to 'legal guarantee' (wettelijke garantie) where the seller is obliged to repair or replace an item for free if it becomes faulty from normal use during the expected functional lifetime of the product. And of course, a fridge should not be expected to only last one year. Welhof completely ignored this law, and refused to help.
Three years later, the washing machine broke down again, and I had an independent engineer diagnose that it was due to a faulty motherboard, and that the serial number is required to replace it as different batches use different models of motherboard.
Again, I approached Welhof, and they promised to repair the washing machine if I send it back, even though I told them what the independent engineer told me. So, I sent it back. A few days later, they told me the same thing that the independent engineer did, and that they will only repair it at my cost using a motherboard they can't be sure is the correct one, and that I will still have to pay for the repair if it doesn't resolve it.
Again, they completely ignored their obligations under Dutch law. At this point, the washing machine would be easily repairable if the serial number had not been removed by them, and should certainly not be scrap after less than four years of normal use. It is known as ‘non-conformiteit’ or ‘ondeugdelijk product’ (Article 7:17 of the Dutch Civil Code).
Over the course of several days, I attempted to communicate with them via various channels including email, WhatsApp, Facebook and phone, and they gave me promise after promise that they failed to deliver on each time. Their phone line almost invariably takes more than 30 minutes being on hold before they answer each time, and each time they promised they would get back to me. They never allowed me to speak to anyone in authority, and were rude and dismissive of me on the phone.
I explained how stressful the matter was for my family with two very young children, and they showed a complete lack of empathy or consideration.
So much so, that in the end I was sent a rather abrupt and rude message saying they would return my broken washing machine to me and dump it on my front doorstep unfixed.
At the time of writing, I have made complaints to Klachtenkompas, Qshops and ACM ConsuWijzer all of whom are government-regulated bodies that have authority in the matter. I am also in contact with bailiffs with a view to issuing a subpoena to issue a court summons for a subdistrict court judge to dissolve the purchase so that they will be ordered to issue me with a full refund. This will be enacted if they fail to respond satisfactorily to the formal notice I have issued to them to provide a full refund or replacement, at which point they will go into default and I will issue them with a formal notice to terminate the purchase agreement.
Thankfully, as a consumer, I am very well protected under Dutch law. Do not let this company take you for granted by flouting the rules and behaving above the law. Better still, I recommend against purchasing anything from this company based on my extremely bad experience on the only two expensive items I have purchased from them.