Every now and then, people ask W5 to get to the bottom of what they think is an unjust situation with nowhere to turn. Those stories don’t always justify an entire multi-layered W5 TV investigation, but they are legitimate stories nonetheless and worthy of some digging. And sometimes the digging alone triggers a solution.
That’s the case with Maria.
Back in December of 2022, Maria M. from Bradford, Ont. noticed her refrigerator wasn’t working properly. So she called a repairman, who took a look and told her that she needed a part – an inverter control kit. It’s part of the compressor that helps the fridge’s cooling function.
Maria went online and found a company called Genuine Replacement Parts – which claims to “have the largest selection of appliance parts available on the internet.” It’s based in Florida, with an office in Laval, Quebec and a warehouse in Mississauga, Ontario.
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A screenshot of the refrigerator part Maria M tried to return to General Replacement Parts.
Maria tried to figure out which kit she needed and eventually placed the order over the phone and said she was “told with confidence that I could return it as long as the part has not been used.”
She paid $361.37, including taxes and shipping. When the part arrived a few days later, Maria gave it to her repairman, who opened the box, took a look and told her that it was the wrong part. Genuine Replacement Parts sent her what she ordered – but she had made an honest mistake and ordered the wrong part.
So Maria emailed GRP to figure out how to return the useless part.
Genuine Replacement Parts emailed back to say they do indeed accept returns – as long as the part is in its original box.
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Maria said the cardboard box the part came in was thrown out, but she thought, that shouldn’t be such a big deal. After all, the company said they’d take it back as long as it wasn’t used. And it wasn’t used – it was still pristine and untouched.
Except for the box.
So, she emailed back with an appeal to overlook the missing box and she even offered to drive the part to their Mississauga warehouse. She didn’t get the response from GRP that she hoped for:
In good faith, we escalated an appeal to our warehouse manager regarding your request to return this item without the original box. I also explained this matter and that you were willing to return the part in person.
Your request has been denied and we cannot accept this return in person either. We will not process a return without the original box.”
The email said that the box is an extension of the original part itself and without it, the part can no longer be considered new and unused. It added that the Genuine Replacement Parts Return Policy is clear, that “…items must be returned with their respective original manufacturer box and packing material.”
Maria admittedly did not read the return the policy. And I suspect she’s certainly not alone when it comes to that. But she insists that she did verbally ask and found it appalling that a $360 part could be deemed useless and irreclaimable because of a missing box.
Not to be dismissed, Maria emailed them back – and she cc’d W5.
“Your refund policy should be NON EXISTENT because 99% of your clientele would open the box to see the product… This is unfair and unjust. Your staff needs to be properly trained to let customers know that an open box equates to a NO RETURN policy,” she wrote.
Maria promised to share her story on social media.
Genuine Replacement Parts decided to dig in. Customer service team lead Cheyenne wrote, “We do not state that customers cannot open a box at all.” She explained that the box can indeed be opened, but needs to be returned in decent condition with the part.
“We understand why you are upset but there is nothing further we can add to justify our decision. This will be our last communication on the matter.”
Since Maria had cc’d W5 in her message and Cheyenne from Genuine Replacement Parts “replied to all,” this message came to my inbox as well. So I decided to weigh in. Here’s an excerpt:
“Hi Cheyenne. I’m the executive producer at CTV News W5,” I wrote. “I’m just genuinely curious why Genuine Replacement Parts thinks this is a reasonable response. I assume the price of a box is much less than $361.37. Do you think it’s possible that the customer is telling the truth about the phone calls she made? Wouldn’t it make sense to simply charge the customer the cost of a new box, instead of leaving them with an unusable and expensive product? I’m just trying to understand the corporate logic behind this decision, notwithstanding what your return policy states.”
Despite her assurance that this will be the “last communication on the matter,” Cheyenne and Genuine Replacement Parts seemed to have a change of heart after hearing that W5 was interested in some answers. One hour after my email, I received a very short email from Cheyenne:
We discussed this matter internally at GRP and have refunded this customer in full today.”
As always, these resolutions are very satisfying and I always wonder why they couldn’t have been resolved before the prospect of an investigative report is raised.
The best part was Maria’s email to us:
It’s Maria. Words cannot express how grateful I am for your help on this matter today… I was an honest customer from the beginning and couldn’t believe that I lost $361 over a cardboard box that the repairman must have thrown out!?!? I hope they change their policy to be a more realistic one.
Because of you, I couldn’t be happier with this result. When contacting them previous to reaching out to you, their responses were slow and usually blank so you really are making a difference.
THANK YOU for making things RIGHT in a world that can sometimes seem very wrong.”
W5 is investigating unscrupulous contractors. Did someone take the money and not do the work? Or did they do the work and it’s awful or dangerous or incomplete? We want to hear from you. Write to us at W5@bellmedia.ca