PB Technologies Customer Service Timeline

I’m really interested to understand how consumers and retailers are educated around the consumer guarantees act. I’d love to hear your feedback as you read of the timeline below (I’ll add to it as it progresses). Am I being a dick? I’m going to be as careful as I can to add no bias. I will however comment in the comment section after the article.

  • 20 Jan: Bought a pair of Ultimate Ears 200vi iPhone headphones from PB Technology in Queen St. Cost $125
  • 12 Apr: Noticed the cord was fraying around the plug.
  • 15 Apr: Cord really frayed, headphones still working. Here’s a photo of the issue. Took the headphones back to the shop, with credit card statement showing the date and amount of purchase.
    • Gave the headphones to a technician called Cooper and said something like: “these are breaking, can you please replace them or refund my money?” I figured the plug was moulded on and unlikely to be repairable.
    • Cooper took a short look and said something like “no you see, this is damage caused by misuse or breakage. It’s not covered by warranty.”
    • I complained and said I hadn’t misused the headphones, just used them normally, and they were only 2.5 months old.
    • He reluctantly (no bias) said something like “I could send them to Logitech and have them decide if it’s misuse or wear and tear.”
    • At this point I was concerned about the time it would take, and also unhappy with the service. I was also wondering about my rights under the CGA and whether I had the option to demand a refund from PB without need for them to go to Logitech. So, I left the shop with the headphones, and the intention to check my rights and complain to PB about Cooper’s assumption that I caused the damage myself.
    • I checked the PB website, and was pleased to see they very clearly show their contact details and complaints process.
    • I sent this email to PB (and I freely admit that I dropped my credentials in there so they would understand I don’t just casually lie about intentionally breaking stuff):
      [quote]Hey guys,
      I just popped in to your city store with my 2.5 month old Ultimate Ears headphones that are falling apart, and was told by “Cooper” that it is due to damage, not normal wear and tear. After I mentioned the consumer guarantees act, he said reluctantly that he “might be able to send them to Logitech to see if they thought it was damage”.
      Thing is, I take my consumer tech pretty bloody seriously. I review gadgets for TVNZ Breakfast, and run a review site. I treat everything with the same care and attention you would expect from any other consumer. I did not damage these earphones.
      You can see an image of the frayed headphones here: www.ben.geek.nz/2010/04/pb-technology-and-the-consumer-guarantees-act/
      Can you help me out? I don’t really want a repair because I don’t trust the construction of the plug anymore.
      Ben Gracewood.[/quote]
    • … and got this reply
      [quote]HI Ben, Thanks for your email, PB Tech has always tried to supply the best service and above, that our customers are entitled to.

      I have spoken to Cooper who believes that the damage to the unit is caused by miss use and there by called physical damage.

      He has informed me that he has offered under warranty to send the unit to the manufacturer to have it assessed. He tells me that you have declined this offer and taken the goods with you.

      There by you are not allowing PB Technologies the opportunity to rectify this warranty issue for you.

      He informs me this all happened this morning 15/04/2010.

      Although we are Authorised resellers of these products we are not Authorised service agents and as such we must seek the Manufacturers/importers recommendation as to the repair or replacement of the item in question.

      I will check with the manufacturer to confirm that I am correct in the previous statement

      From your email please clarify, are you informing me that you will not accept a replacement if it was offered to you and further you are requesting PB Technologies to do repair work on the item in question that we are not authorised to do, and there by void any future warranty.

      I would like to solve this issue as soon as possible and request you deliver the item in question to us so we can get the fastest possible resolution with the smallest amount of inconvenience to you.

      Kind Regards
      Les Ludlow
      Operations Manager[/quote]

    • I was quite confused by this email, so I called Les directly. He seemed to be immediately on the offence, and we talked past each other for the whole call. His points seemed to be:
      • PB aren’t qualified to assess damage to we need the supplier to do it. Drop the headphones back in so we can get Logitech to check them.
      • We frequently get customers claiming “it just happened” for obvious accidental damage.
      • Customers wrap headphone cords too tightly and damage them.
      • The CGA lets us (PB) choose how to resolve issues.
    • …and mine were:
      • I didn’t damage the headphones, nor wrap them around anything.
      • If I had wrapped the headphones around the iPhone, this is normal use for headphones. They should be able to handle that for more than 2 months.
      • The CGA allows for normal, reasonable, etc., so how PB thinks things get damaged is not so relevant.
    • Then I took the headphones back to the shop, they looked up the original invoice, and booked it in for a warranty job.
    • Then I had this email exchange with Les:
    Ben Gracewood Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 3:27 PM
    To: Les <Les@pbtech>
    Do you mind if I publish this reply Les? I honestly think it’s up to PBTech to decide if the item is damaged or not, but am happy to have Logitech take a look if that’s the only option you allow me.

    Les <Les@pbtech> Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM
    To: ben
    Hi Ben You can publish this email if you wish we have nothing to hide. However publish it as it was written and without personal opinion attached and let the readers make up there own minds.

    Ben Gracewood Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:20 PM
    To: Les <Les@pbtech>
    I had no other intention.Headphones are now with your Q st store. Job number MD 2062.

    Les <Les@pbtech> Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:33 PM
    To: Ben Gracewood
    Thanks Ben, they should be here in the morning and I have arranged to get them inspected as soon a possible tomorrow, I am away for the week end but they are going to ring me with a decision and I will let the branch know what to do from there.

    Ben Gracewood Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:37 PM
    To: Les <Les@pbtech>
    Just confirming that you understand my preference is for a refund right? Looking at the plug arrangement, I’m not happy that it is fit for purpose.

    Les <Les@pbtech> Thu, Apr 15, 2010 at 4:46 PM
    To: Ben Gracewood
    HI Ben I understand what you have said, the only question is weather the manufacture think the issue is warranty or (as we call at PB Tech) Physical damage.

    I will get back to you as soon as I can

  • …ends…

So, before you read the comments, make your own judgement.


  1. So here’s what I want to say:
    – I didn’t damage the headphones. They wore out. Far too early.
    – PB’s default position seems to be “customers are ripping us off all the time”
    – PB doesn’t seem to understand that I’m saying “these headphones aren’t fit for my purpose because the break to early, therefore under the CGA I am allowed to ask for my money back”
    – I’m worried that PB seem to think it’s their right to decide how to remedy the situation. I’m also worried that I’m wrong about the CGA.
    – I would have thought PB could make a call on intentional damage or not.
    – I would have thought my background would add some credence to my assertion that I didn’t break the headphones.

  2. Apart from Cooper’s initial reaction that it was your fault, it appears as though PB Tech have done OK. They’ve offered to send them back to Logitech for a warranty claim and I seriously doubt Logitech would bother repairing them – it would cost them less to just replace them.

      1. Well if Logitech accept the responsibility that the earphones are faulty, then you would be well within your right to request a refund.

  3. In my opinion it’s seems reasonable for the store to repair/replace them (sending away to the manufacturer) rather than give you a refund. Obviously the whole interaction got a little adversarial, but hey, it takes two to tango. It’s unsurprising that staff at the store got irritated when you refused their offer to help.

    Extracting the maximum compensation that you are legally entitled to (as appears to have been your aim) is usually more stressful than finding some kind of middle ground. That’s life.

  4. Point is: I don’t want a replacement. I want money back. Headphones that break after 2.5 months are not fit for purpose.
    I’m pretty sure that’s my right to decide under these circumstances.

  5. Hey Ben, I’m a part time advisor at my local Citizens Advice Bureau and if you’d walked into my branch with this story I’d definitely say you’ve understood the CGA correctly. The items do need to be fit for purpose and also last a reasonable length of time (while taking into account the price paid). Eg you would expect $125 headphones to last significantly longer than $20 headphones. As a consumer, your first port of call is always with the retailer – you can then choose to go to the manufacturer if circumstances require it.


    Thumbs up to PBTech for allowing your correspondence to be published. Great opportunity for them to ensure all of their staff are up to speed on the CGA – not only for when they have problems but also at the time of sale as the advice they give purchasers then (if asked for) is equally important.

    Best of luck, shall be following with interest!

  6. I’m not surprised they want Logitech to check and approve replacement, as that way they don’t have to take the risk that they’d make the snap judgement to replace them and then have Logitech decline, which leaves them out their cost for a pair of headphones (not just back at zero). As long as this evaluation is done quickly it doesn’t seem unreasonable.

    With demanding a refund, I think fitness for a purpose probably isn’t right. The problem is with quality. Which, luckily, is also a valid ground for return: “substantially do not meet acceptable quality.”

    The Act is pretty clear that this includes durability:
    7 Meaning of acceptable quality
    (1) For the purposes of section 6 of this Act, goods are of acceptable quality if they are as—
    (a) Fit for all the purposes for which goods of the type in question are commonly supplied; and
    (b) Acceptable in appearance and finish; and
    (c) Free from minor defects; and
    (d) Safe; and
    (e) Durable,—
    as a reasonable consumer fully acquainted with the state and condition of the goods, including any hidden defects, would regard as acceptable, having regard to—
    (f) The nature of the goods:
    (g) The price (where relevant):
    (h) Any statements made about the goods on any packaging or label on the goods:
    (i) Any representation made about the goods by the supplier or the manufacturer:
    (j) All other relevant circumstances of the supply of the goods.
    (2) Where any defects in goods have been specifically drawn to the consumer’s attention before he or she agreed to the supply, then notwithstanding that a reasonable consumer may not have regarded the goods as acceptable with those defects, the goods will not fail to comply with the guarantee as to acceptable quality by reason only of those defects.
    (3) Where goods are displayed for sale or hire, the defects that are to be treated as having been specifically drawn to the consumer’s attention for the purposes of subsection (2) of this section are those disclosed on a written notice displayed with the goods.
    (4) Goods will not fail to comply with the guarantee of acceptable quality if—
    (a) The goods have been used in a manner, or to an extent which is inconsistent with the manner or extent of use that a reasonable consumer would expect to obtain from the goods; and
    (b) The goods would have complied with the guarantee of acceptable quality if they had not been used in that manner or to that extent.
    (5) A reference in subsections (2) and (3) of this section to a defect means any failure of the goods to comply with the guarantee of acceptable quality.

    1. Thanks Morgan. I think I was wrongly saying “not fit for purpose” as in “not fit to be headphones that are plugged and unplugged and used regularly”. Which like you say is probably more of a quality issue.

  7. I’m pretty sure you are within your rights to ask for a refund. Section 18 of the Consumer Guarantees Act sets out your rights. Basically, if the goods are “substantially not fit for purpose” (or, alternatively, that knowing of the defect, a reasonable consumer would not purchase them) then you can reject the goods and demand a refund. In other words, you don’t have to accept a refund in such a case.

    You could probably argue either of these in the present case.

    PB are right that in normal circumstances the seller has the right to give either a refund or replacement. Check out section 18 of the CGA – it’s pretty understandable.

    Regardless, good luck!

  8. CGA has been set up so that consumer can have easy access to redress through the retailer, rather than have the consumer running around trying to contact the manufacturer who may not be in NZ or does not have an interface – such as store or office – suitable to visit. Retailer also deals with manufacturer on a regular basis, so it should, theoretically, also be easier for them to discuss the problem and solution. Given that PB Tech didn’t appear to have means to do assess the damage, it is only fair they discuss the issue with the manufacturer – the consumer does have to give them a reasonable timeframe to rectify the situation.

    However, in the interests of good customer service, and as we’ve become accustomed to in NZ, they could have offered a quicker resolution. I treat my cheap headphones like crap and have never experienced that issue, you’d have to try pretty hard to cause that sort of damage in 2.5 months I would think.

    I’m fairly certain other stores would have offered a replacement or refund, then worked with the manufacturer to get their refund in turn. I would think a store is much better off doing this, in terms of building/protecting their reputation, and maybe wear the loss of the odd rejected claim to the manufacturer, than piss off customers and lose future business (and associated profits of course) from them and their friends/colleagues/etc.

    Further, while Cooper was probably doing his job as instructed, I think the manager, after you outlined your credentials as evidence that it wasn’t your over-zealous use that caused the damage, should have then used his case-by-case discretion to override the initial decision by a staff member and organised a new pair/refund without further delay.

  9. Stepping aside of the CGA issues for a moment, if I may… personally, I think PB did alright here (not great, but alright). However, I think “alright” is good enough for them given the type of store. They reduce their margins and probably parallel import their product to save you money. The downside of this is that they may be more strict on returns and not be able to take the JB “just give them their money back” approach.

    Lots of people now “pricespy” this type of product, find the cheapest at a convenient store and buy there. This is what I do, but I also accept that in shopping at cheap places I shouldn’t expect 100% smooth sailing if something goes wrong. I weigh up the risk depending on the amount spent and the type of product. If you want top quality service you can always pay 33% more and buy from (for example…) JB HiFi or Noel leeming. That’s not to say you’ll get great service their, but your chances of finding a compliant bully-able manager is increased. And just for the record, I think dropping in the equivalent of “Do you KNOW WHO I AM?!” in an email exchange is being a dick. It comes across (IMHO) as passive aggressive and would have got my back up if I was on the other end of the conversation.

    Having said all that, good luck, I hate spending good money on a product and having it fall to bits. Also as a post-script, I’ve dealt direct with Logitech before (their OZ based office) and found them bloody awesome. They sent me a new Harmony remote adapter for my PS3 (the old one didn’t work with the PS3 Slim) straight away, I didn’t even have to send them the old one first!

  10. I disagree with Kit – nothing wrong with speeding up the process by any means possible. If Ben was a joe average consumer they might have been even more unhelpful.

    I can only presume that faulty goods make a tiny percentage of the total number of goods sold each day so why not apply some common sense and if it looks like it is geniunely faulty, just replace it or refund it. The customer walks away satisfied and is more likely to tell other people about the positive experience rather than the negative. Win win.

    I buy cheap earphones for this very reason – they get used every day and are prone to stopping working so I’d be gutted if I forked over $100+ for a pair only for them to break after 6 months. At least when they are $25 it doesn’t feel as bad and realistically the sound difference is neligible.

  11. “why not apply some common sense and if it looks like it is genuinely faulty, just replace it or refund it.” I think the problem is that Ben’s fault *looks* like it has been caused through careless use (which I’m sure it hasn’t!). If the problem was an internal one and clearly a product fault, I think PBTech would have probably taken that common sense approach. To be fair, shops like PB Tech probably see all sorts of dodgy returns and they just don’t have the clout in terms of getting money back from the supplier if they accept everything that the customer says.

    Let me be clear though, I think the problem is poor manufacturing and the phones should be replaced. If Ben doesn’t want the replacement pair (which on the balance seems like a wise approach!) he should get a refund or store credit from PB Tech and let them sell the phones to someone else. Although an inconvenience I don’t think their “send away to Logitech” approach is too onerous.

  12. Hi. First off, I’ll admit straight away that I work at the PB Queen St branch. I know Cooper, and he’s not the best person to deal with. However, the headphones were purchased 2.5 months ago. Asking for a refund is really unreasonable since you’ve purchased it and used for an extended period of time. Also, if you purchased the correct item PB has no obligation to give any sort of refund. The only way you would be entitled to a refund would be if you were given incorrect information about the product.

    Now, you are completely entitled to a replacement or repair under warranty. Which was offered, possibly in a half hearted manner, by Cooper. My suggestion would be to take the offer for the replacement. If you talk to Winston (Service Manager) he may offer you a replacement straight away.

    Also, to Kit: PB does not parallel import at all. Every product is purchased straight from the manufacturer or from a proper supplier. (ie: Ingram Micro)

    1. I don’t quite think that misrepresentation is the only case where PBTech is obligated to offer a refund.

      For example, say Company X is sells a product that is very poorly made, but makes no representation about its quality – it merely sells it. A person then buys said product, and a day later it breaks (due to its poor construction). In such a case it would be unfair to the buyer if their only remedy were to get a replacement – as it would probably just break.

      The Consumer Guarantees Act provides that in such cases (where there is a substantial failure of the goods) the seller is obligated to provide a refund – not a replacement.

      In this case there is a question as to whether the headphones fit into the definition of “substantial failure” – but I don’t think it is unreasonable to claim this and demand a refund, and nor is it true that PB is only obligated to provide a refund due to misrepresentation.

      1. No, not just misrepresentation. It’s up to PB and Logitech to provide a remedy, which was offered as repair/replacement from Logitech. The only way I could see a refund being necessary would be if there was no viable replacement available. Using a product for 2.5 months is enough time for wear and tear to occur and thus make the product non refundable. However, the product is under warranty and should be repaired or replaced if the customer says they did not damage it.

      2. Ethan, there’s a difference between your opinion of what you think is “enough time for wear and tear”, and what a reasonable consumer would think.

        Also: I have NOT been offered any remedy, just an offer for Logitech to check if it is misuse or not. I guess the customer’s word means nothing at all to PB?

  13. As an addition to my previous post:

    From the Logitech Website on their product warranty:

    “Logitech’s entire liability and your exclusive remedy for any breach of warranty shall be, at Logitech’s option, (1) to repair or replace the hardware, or (2) to refund the price paid, provided that the hardware is returned to the point of purchase or such other place as Logitech may direct with a copy of the sales receipt or dated itemized receipt. Shipping and handling charges may apply except where prohibited by applicable law. Logitech may, at its option, use new or refurbished or used parts in good working condition to repair or replace any hardware product. Any replacement hardware product will be warranted for the remainder of the original warranty period or thirty (30) days, whichever is longer or for any additional period of time that may be applicable in your jurisdiction.

    This warranty does not cover problems or damage resulting from (1) accident, abuse, misapplication, or any unauthorized repair, modification or disassembly; (2) improper operation or maintenance, usage not in accordance with product instructions or connection to improper voltage supply; or (3) use of consumables, such as replacement batteries, not supplied by Logitech except where such restriction is prohibited by applicable law.”

    It is up to Logitech to determine whether or not the damage is from misuse, and if so the warranty is then void. PB is really just the middle man here, which is why all they can do is offer to send it back to the manufacturer.


  14. Wow Ethan. Your replies show some serious misunderstandings about the CGA. For example, your statement about only “incorrect information” entitles me to a refund is categorically untrue. Read the act: there are several situations that allow me to get a refund, completely regardless of any type of warranty. The CGA is in place to protect consumers from restrictive warranties.

    One of these situations is where an item is “substantially” of poor quality or unfit for the intended use.

    Also worth noting: there are significant fines for retailers that misrepresent consumer rights.

    This is exactly why I published my situation. I don’t think enough people on both sides of the transaction really understand the CGA.

    1. I think you’re reading way too far into the CGA. Which in all honesty, is incredibly vague. PB did everything they were required under the CGA. Which was offer a replacement/repair under warranty from Logitech. They have no obligation to give you any sort of refund.

      1. Hey Ethan, do you have authority to talk publicly on behalf of PB Tech? The reason I ask is that you’re not doing your employers any favours by posting here—you’re making PB Tech look worse with every reply you post.

  15. Another 2c to take out my opinion frustration here.

    Ethan: 2.5 months is not ‘an extended period of time’ – for a start I would expect a 12 month warranty period on a $125 set of headphones and, well, what more can I say? 2.5 months! We would never accept a situation where we all went round replacing our headphones, especially $125 ones, 4 or 5 times a year.

    Kit: Ben didn’t get all ‘don’t you know who I am? I’m gonna rip you to shreds publicly if you don’t fix this!’ on PB, he only stated his credentials to show he is so passionate about his gadgets he goes on tv to talk about them, hence he’s not the type of guy to mis-treat them.

  16. $125 isn’t cheap and 2.5 months isn’t long for them to last. I have Sony Walkman headphones that have been in regular use, if not daily, for over a decade!

    As a retailer PB Tech can’t repair, but could make the call to replace/refund them. If it really is a quality issue then the manufacturer should be responsible, so maybe not unreasonable for PB Tech to refer to them. I must say my dealings with them, machines & accessories, have been fine.

    Perhaps it’s better to go direct to the manufacturer. I refer you to my broken headphone experience, years out of warranty and not even the same country where they were purchased…


    Their stuff aint cheap, but with that attitude I don’t mind.

  17. I have only ever had to RMA one thing to PB tech. A brand new PB system. I sent it back (bad MoBo), a week later they told me it was being fixed. I asked for a new one, given i turned it on and simply failed. I was told they had to attempt to fix it first….. pretty gay

    1. As the fault is not substantial (the headphones still operate properly) it is up to the supplier to fix or replace the goods. If the headphones had fallen apart and completely stopped working, yes you would be entitled to your choice of replacement or refund.

      From that article “For a lesser fault, the supplier can choose to fix the goods, or replace them.”

      1. I think your issue is really with Logitech on this one.


        “Material defects or workmanship in either the external shell or the internal components are covered for a period of one year from the original shipping date. Damage or breakage due to use contrary to Ultimate Ears instruction, ordinary wear and tear, misuse, abuse, negligence, accident, unauthorized repair, acts of God, or modification of, or to any part of the Product is not covered by the warranty, nor is the cord. Replacement cords are available in a variety of lengths and colors.”

        The cord isn’t even covered by the warranty in the first place. And wrapping the headphones around the iPhone is definitely misuse of the product. They come with a case so you don’t do that in the first place.

        I’m really trying to be fair, but demanding a refund after extended and improper use is unreasonable. Cooper offered to send it back to Logitech and let them determine what to do, but you declined. If you sold someone your car and they came back 2 or 3 months later with a headlight missing demanding a refund you wouldn’t be so eager to do so. You may offer to repair it or have it repaired, but you wouldn’t just give the money back.

      2. You’re trying to be funny right? That is the warranty for custom-made ultimate ears.
        Not that Logitech’s warranty is relevant anyway.

  18. Ethan, you need to stop commenting about things you obviously have no idea about.
    1. The CGA is in addition to, and overrides, any written warranty.
    2. I didn’t misuse the headphones.
    3. The headphones are substantially broken – the copper in the cord was frayed.
    4. Any reasonable consumer would expect premium headphones to last longer than 2.5 months.
    5. I have the right to ask for my money back.

    1. Yeah, and I quoted the article you provided. That is a lesser fault because the headphones are still functional, which means it’s PB’s choice on how to provide a remedy. They offered to send it back to the manufacturer. That would happen from any company. You’re phone breaks you take it to Vodafone or Telecom and the first thing they will say is, “We’ll have to send it back to the manufacturer and they’ll determine the fault.”

      The cord and the copper is frayed because of your misuse of the headphones. It’s common knowledge that wrapping the headphones around the devices puts stress on the cord. It doesn’t matter how “premium” the headphones they aren’t physics proof.

      You (arguably) have the right to a repair/replacement of a lesser fault. Again, the headphones are still functioning, and therefore not substantially faulty. If they were substantially broken then they wouldn’t function.

  19. No, I’m not trying to be funny. That’s the limited hardware warranty for all Ultimate Ears products.

    1. And I’m in no way representing PB Tech. I’m trying to offer help and my opinion on the matter.

  20. Might as well share my Logitech warranty replacement story.

    My 18-month old Harmony universal remote had stopped charging, and I’m 90% sure it just needed a new battery (it was visibly swollen, not a good sign).

    I contacted Logitech support (in the US) they gave me a few things to try, ignoring all the things I said I’d tried already, and the fact the battery was deformed. Of course nothing helped, and they then told me the 1 year warranty had expired, so tough luck.

    But DSE sell it with a 2 year warranty, so I took it back to them. There was a bit of mucking around finding the receipt (I’d lost mine and their local store systems can only search the previous 12 months so they had to call head office).

    But once that was sorted, the guy said “ok we’ll get that sent away for repair” then corrected himself, “oh, if it’s under $200, Logitech’s policy is that we can just replace it on the spot”. And they did.

    Regarding your headphones, of course you didn’t mistreat them. Who would spend $125 on headphones and then not look after them? It makes no sense. I could also point out that with a bit of hunting, Google turns up quotes like “Make no doubt about it UE’s are known for their crappy cords. They’ll work great, the problem is that they are prone to fray and the carrying case they give you exacerbates the problem because you have to wrap the cord up.” Indeed.

  21. Ethan,

    You are a PBT employee ( http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?page=contact ) so by speaking on this issue you ARE representing PBT (and PBT will be tainted with whatever you say). Not only that, but contracts between retailers and manufacturers will often say that retailers are not allowed to say much where this sort of claim is made – for the obvious reason that manufacturers don’t like ill-informed retailers trashing their reputation.

    Your understanding of the CGA is not good so I’d quit while you’re only a few kilometres behind if I was you. The whole point of the CGA, as Nicola says above, is to make sure that the consumer does not get the run around between retailer and manufacturer. The manufacturer may well have what are called “express” guarantees (12 month written warranties or whatever) but BOTH the supplier (PBT) AND the manufacturer (Logitech) are responsible. The primary responsibility rests with PBT to sort it though because that is who the consumer has the direct relationship with.

    Of course, if the consumer is at fault then PBT will not have any legal obligation (although many retailers in this situation would probably have come to the party anyway after only 2.5 months). BUT, even if someone had wrapped the cord around the headphones (Ben says he did not), that is pretty common usage so you’d be hard pressed to say that after 2.5 months of that, you can refuse a remedy just because of it. Equipment like this should last a reasonable period of time and 2.5 months just doesn’t cut it under any scenario IMO.

    It raises a particular hobby horse of mine which is the misleading sale of warranties or extended warranties, when the CGA gives a guarantee of reasonable durability anyway. Why should I pay for 2 years warranty on mid to high end electrical equipment when it would be unreasonable to expect it to last for any less? Same goes for cars, beds, kitchen appliances, power tools whatever – they all do it and its a rort.

  22. Hmmm.
    I read this thread while out for my walk this morning. I’m not a troll and while I did a law degree some years ago at Otago my definite lack of depth in Consumer Protection jurisprudence leaves me to leave that in Rick’s domain. I would, as he has done, caution Ethan against saying much further. I know a bit about the small claims court process as it is often dinner table conversation around the extended Auld family table (http://www.reaa.govt.nz/page/about/people/-board/board).

    I’m the sort of guy who knows his rights. I’m the sort of guy who will, if pushed, feel quite comfortable in educating not just the Harvey Norman guy about the Consumer Guarantees Act but also Vodafone Australia’s Egyptian Call center staff on their obligations under the Australian Trade Practices Act. Indeed, if needs be I am a complete asshole to deal with as a consumer. But I’m also a reasonable kind of guy. I understand the value chain of manufacturer, distributor, retailer and me. At the end of the day I want to see liability fall where it can and should. In the first instance here I think it’s the responsibility of the manufacturer. Now the CGA does give one rights to simply pass all liability onto the retailer in many circumstances, but, I think in this case that the retailer deserves some reasonable co-operation in attempting to get a remedy out of the manufacturer.

    I agree that PBTech didn’t go about it at all well, but, I think they should be given a chance to encourage the manufacturer to honour their warranty. If you want a refund rather than a replacement item then I’d expect that PBTech would be forthcoming if they have an other pair of headphones to sell. Matters before the disputes tribunal tend to turn as much on equity as they do on the substantive matters. Were I a disputes tribunal referee presented with the current fact situation I’d be inclined to say that you haven’t really given the retailer a reasonable opportunity to resolve the matter.

    My advice (non legal)
    1. Go see PBTech. Get them to send the headphones back to Logitech for warranty review. Tell them that on return you want your money back rather than a replacement (as is your entitlement under the CGA) but at least this way they are partially indemnified by having another set of headphones to sell.
    2. If the manufacturer refuses to honour warranty then exercise your CGA rights as against the retailer.

    In this way both you AND the retailer have it in your interests for the manufacturer to resolve the issue- i.e. you’re on the same side. If we, as consumers, want the flexibility of different types of retailer when we need to be prepared to cut people a bit of slack and allow them to try and resolve issues without it immediately hitting their bottom line. If you want the ability to walk back into the store with a Proof of Purchase and demand your money back then go somewhere like Dick Smith or JB HiFi. If you want to shop from a drop-shipping cut price retailer like PBTech then cut them a bit of slack when things go wrong and give them a chance to put it right.

    1. Hey Chris, appreciate the well thought-out feedback, and it gels very much with how I’d normally prefer to deal with these things.

      In this case however, I was put on the back foot from the first instant that I consulted with PB Technology. Cooper had made up his mind that it was a non-warranty “misuse” issue, and this was re-iterated by my email and phone exchange with Les. This leaves me concerned about the way they will represent the damage to Logitech.

      My distinct impression is that PB Tech don’t trust their customers.

      Several people have made the point about cut-price retailers and lack of flexibility. This is not mutually exclusive. http://xtremesystems.co.nz/ are a great, rock-bottom-cheap computer store who I’ve had excellent warranty service from.

  23. Hi Everyone, thank you all for your comments they have been both constructive and informing.

    Please be assured that the comment that Ethan Griswold made were not the comments of, nor were they authorised by PB technologies Ltd or the Manufacturer.

    This issue was brought to my attension on Thursday last week.
    At that time we did not have the product in question in our hands to view and make a decision about.
    I was handling this matter and was on annual leave friday which I advised Ben of on the thursday.

    The product has now been viewed and a out come has been reached that I believe is suitable to both Ben and PB Technologies Ltd.

    I believe that myself on behalf of PB Technologies Ltd and the Manufacturer have acted in a fair and resonable manner and that the time frame for an outcome should comply with any expectations of a reasonable consumer.

    I do not wish to debate points of law or pieces of legislation as I do not hold suitable qualifications to do so.

    Again I thank you all for the feelings, comments and beliefs of everyone thats has posted here.

    Kind Regards

    1. Thanks Les.

      I appreciate the final outcome.

      I remain concerned by PBTech’s approach to both the CGA and their customers in general. If I weren’t aware of my rights, I would probably have not got the outcome I deserved.


  24. A consumer guarantee replacement or refund in 4 days?! That’s pretty slick to be honest. I’ve heard of letter writing battles and small claims tribunal involvement over periods of months.

    I’m sure Les will be writing into his employment contracts that you’re not allowed to comment on any forum and mention your employer (if it’s not already) and to educate his floor staff on the damage claims handling process.

  25. Nice one Ben.

    BTW, I’ve always found PBT in Penrose to be great when it comes to returns. Had a hard drive crap out after a few months of use and they replaced it on the spot no questions asked. Obviously they’re probably more used to replacing HDs with a known % of defects than something like earphones, but still, it was very painless.

    It all comes down to that first point of contact. The retailer ultimately passes the buck to the manufacturer, so they really have nothing to loose by being on your side from day 0. Hopefully your experience will motivate them to remind staff (and particularly Ethan) of that fact.

  26. I’ve always found PB to be good too (am using a new Win7 desktop purchased from them only recently) and am glad to see that they have sorted something out. I agree with Ben though that it should not take this level of agitation to achieve what should be an automatic right. I receive reports all the time from people who, in similar circumstances, have been fobbed off by the “oh, its out of warranty” or the “we’ve asked the manufacturer but can’t do anything if they won’t” excuses.

    This is another lesson too in the power of social networking, blogging etc.

    Well done to both Ben and Les for sorting it all out though.

  27. The sad, sad thing about all this? Those old earphones will get trashed. It would have taken someone 5 minutes and a soldering iron to fix them, but they’ll be trashed. What a waste. I agree with this guy: http://www.ifixit.com

  28. I’ve purchased from. and sent countless others to, PB in Penrose for 10 years with no issues.

    Not simply replacing or refunding them on the spot was just plain stupid of them. ( even more so, once they knew ‘who’ you were )

    It cost PB a lot more than $100 ( est cost to them of the headphones ) in admin, time and bad press.

    I also refuse to beleive that PBs judgement (at least for low cost devices like this ) isn’t just accepted by Ingrams and thus Logitech.

    Ricks point about the power of social networking is most interesting – I was googling for PB to pass on details to yet another friend wanting a notebook….and here we are reading about bad experiances.

    I’ll still pass her the details but slightly less confidently.

  29. @Richard Vowles. I suspect a repair is not as simple nor probably as economical as it may seem. If the cable used contains nylon threads for flexibility, as is oft the case, it is rather hard to work with (solder).

    Good outcome for Ben though and some education for the most of us too.

  30. Very unhappy with PB Technologies. It seems like they are getting a reputation around for not properly honouring warranties. We bought a high-end graphics card just over 2 years ago for over $700.00 and it had a 3 year warranty. We used it for our business. It gave out after just over 2 years so we took it back to PB with the receipt. They confirmed it was under warranty and said 1 to 2 week and they would likely replace it. Now they are saying at least 1 month and they will only fix it. I’m not sure how long a repair will last, not to mention that we use this computer for our business so well have to go out and buy another graphics card in the meantime. I also did not appreciate the customer service person speaking in Chinese in the background and different stories each time we phone. We have spend a lot of money over the years at PB. We will no longer be shopping there and will tell our friends not to shop there as well.

  31. kok aku merasa di rugikan,,,, aku main selama 2 tahun match sekitar 4000,,,kok char aku di ban,,,,,,aku mintak char aku di kembalikan aku merasa di rugikan ,,,,,,cuma ini yg bisa aku sampaikan tolong char aku di kembalikan thanks

    nick: ryanQyeen
    mail: satrianiryan@ymail.com

  32. I know this is an old thread now, but in case anyone is interested in what PB Tech regards as “substantially faulty” and therefore entitled to a refund under the Consumer Guarantees Act, I have just received this statement in an email from their Operations Manager:

    “I personally would describe a substantial fault in a computer has being when more than one component of a computer fails at the same time causing the computer to stop working and not to go again until it is repaired.”

    This is in regard to a $3,678.85, 10 month old, Sony laptop that is requiring the mainboard to be replaced. Starting at 3 months of age, it has now had 3 episodes where it has spontaneously shut down, while in use and fully charged, and been unable to be turned back on for several days at a time. A previous attempt at diagnosis failed to replicate or fix the fault. I am now told that the previous episodes of “deadness”, while appearing identical, and despite now knowing that there is a faulty component on the mainboard, were probably caused by something unrelated like a software fault.

    Apparently, according to PB Tech, because the fault isn’t with the entire mainboard, just one item on the mainboard (but requiring the entire mainboard to be replaced for obvious reasons), and because it has only been intermittently lifeless (albiet for days at a time) rather being entirely dead, this is not a substantial fault.

    Would any of you other reasonable consumers out there purchase this laptop, knowing of the full extent of the fault it has now (finally) be diagnosed with?

    I’m surprised Ben got a refund if the headphones still worked…

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