Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pureit - When Unilever Sri Lanka deceives its customers

I was one of those who believed that the Pureit water filter sold in Sri Lanka by Unilever would be a good product. In fact, I bought my first filter, then a second for my office and recommended it to others as well, who ended up buying it. However, the surprise comes only a few months later..

Unilever sells a 'Germ Kill kit' for its filters, but sans one very important piece of the filtration process - the 'Microfibre Filter'. Its natural for a customer to assume that a 'replacement' kit contains all the necessary parts that require regular maintenance - but the lack of the Microfibre filter in the Pureit replacement kit sold by Unilever does not seem to be an oversight! Its sold separately at an additional cost - not divulged to the customer at the time of sale, and the non-replacement of this results in the filter failing to work effectively.

Although the product itself includes a 'Hotline' which is picked up courteously, its agents are helpless as at least since February, Unilever had failed to have any replacement Microfibre filters available in Sri Lanka. Due to the scarcity of this part, I ordered two by phone over the hotline, and I was told that they would be home delivered in a couple of weeks. However, Pureit failed to keep its promises.

I called again over 3 months later, and I was told that the parts were still not available. With the Microfibre filter getting clogged, the whole filter became dead slow - or ineffective for normal use. On my second call, I informed that I was not happy that such a large company could sell a product in Sri Lanka without having the necessary maintenance spares, and requested a manager to call me. I'd be surprised if I couldn't report this to the Consumer Affairs Authority and ask for a refund? Anyway.., no one had the decency to even call me back! A few days back I called them yet again, and gave them a final 24 hours notice to either get a manager to call me back - or to risk me exposing this side of Unilever in Sri Lanka to others.

Clearly Unilever spends exorbitant amounts of money on marketing, and to get people like Siddharth Banerjee, its Marketing Director to make statements as follows:
Q – What sort of an aftersales service Unilever offer the consumer durables?
Siddharth – Aftersales services is an important part in the Pureit experience. We are very focused on aftersales service. By picking up the call center number any consumer can get the ‘germ kill kit’ delivered to their doorstep conveniently. Currently there is a certain service level, which is improved every six months by reducing the number of hours it takes a technician of ours to reach the consumer and attend to the matter. With the recent launch of the reverse osmosis purifiers that works well in hard water areas we now cover the entire island.
I'm still confident that the Pureit filter itself is a great product.. but its unfortunate that a large company like Unilever can spend so much on unwanted marketing and deceptive advertising, than on getting the necessary replacement spares for its customers..

Update: 24th June 2014

Yesterday, Unilever Sri Lanka called me to apologize for the lack of the micro fibre filter, and delivered the two filters I ordered back in February, by early morning today.

I thank Mr. Dominic from Unilever Sri Lanka for speaking to me personally to explain the situation, and for taking up the matter to the relevant people to include the micro fibre filter into the 'Replacement Kit' in the future. I also hope that in future, the hotline would effectively escalate issues to the management - especially when a customer specifically requests it - to prevent similar situations and to make customers know that they can raise issues to the management, if the hotline itself cannot solve an issue.

I hope that although I had to make a public complaint, that it did good for the many consumers in Sri Lanka - and ultimately to Unilever. Like Steve Jobs said "It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it"

As for me.. I am back to using my Pureit happily again!..


Anonymous said...

Hi Asankha,

Read your post about the Unilever Pure-It with interest. I too think that Unilever deceives its customers but even in another way: by making huge profits on the replacement kits. The first germ kill indicator lasted for one year until shut off, then the replacement germ kill indicators lasted only for two to three months each. That means we have to replace the filters every three months instead of once a year. Since these indicators cannot be bought separately, I decided to open the indicator and remove the auto shutter. The water is flowing again and now it is up to me to decide when to replace the filters... :-)

Cheers, Martin

Asankha Perera said...

Hi Martin

Thanks for leaving a helpful comment.. I was personally not aware that the indicator could be tweaked! Will try that next time and see if it makes sense.. However, I am wondering if the chlorine dispersion would have stopped by then


Anonymous said...

A useless product.

Anonymous said...

useless product with poor after service. do not buy..