It’s a lemon, folks!

CONSUMER AFFAIRS:

A heartfelt open letter to ALDI and Gardenline

Penned by Don Gordon-Brown

The Gardenline 18inch four-stroke petrol lawnmower sold through ALDI stores late last year has turned out to be an absolute lemon!

That’s a bit unfair. Let’s start again: the Gardenline 18inch four-stroke petrol lawnmover that I bought at ALDI in Ballina late last year has turned out to be an absolute lemon. I hope other buyers have had better luck with the model.

Mine is up on the northern Golf Coast where “Pete” at Mower World – the ALDI/Gardenline recommended repair place – has declared it unrepairable and has kindly offered to dispose of it for me. But I can pick the carcass up if I like.

Although it was barely months old, Pete had clearly inferred its demise was my fault and thus it will not be covered by the product’s warranty. He didn’t even offer a quote to fix it, so I can only assume that would have been more than the mower cost me – $139.

Pete was philosophical. If I’ve had two to three years work out of it, it’s served you well so go out and buy another one at that price was his best advice. That’s the problem, Pete. Try months.

But as Pete said when I first wheeled the mower in: “We get a few of those here.”

So how did it come to this? Firstly, I must say that honesty is clearly not the best policy when trying to get a warranty-covered redress for a dead lawnmower. Being upfront and completely open about the sequence of events that led me to Pete’s door a few weeks back did me no good at all. You’d think at my age I’d know lying is always the best option.

Here’s what unfolded. Apart from a catcher that kept falling apart – I tarzan-gripped the bastard together – this el cheapo Gardenline mower more than adequately dealt with the small areas around the house I used it for.

I had read the operating instructions and knew its first five hours of use was up and I needed to follow the maintenance advice and drain the oil and replace it shortly.

But I’d been checking the oil regularly since purchase and topped it up once a month or so ago. I checked again on this day and the oil level was fine and looked surprisingly clean. So a’mowing I did go. It ran at power, made no bad noises or issued any tell-tale smoke, and switched off nicely.

The next day when I tried to start it, the pull cord would only budge a few centimetres. I had to rush off to Sydney for the weekend and a chap staying with us had a look at it in my absence. I don’t think Ronnie’s electrician’s training in France made him much of an expert in lawnmowers, because he admitted he had tipped the mower on its side – not backwards on its handle as the manual instructs – and petrol had spilled from the mower.

You can’t get stuck into a nice European bloke trying his best but I assumed his actions probably also meant the oil might have gone anywhere as well. And, yes, seeing this is important further into this story, he had not added any oil. And I left the mower exactly as is.

Now hands up if you think I was absolutely fucking stupid to tell Pete all this when I dropped the mower off a few Wednesdays back. Okay, thought so. Don’t rub it in. But here’s the rub. If the oil level was down, I wanted Pete to know why.

But his first response wasn’t promising. He suspected the engine had seized because the oil had been dispersed by tipping the mower sideways. “I don’t think you’ve been listening to my sequence of events, “I shot back. He then checked the air filter and found no oil there. Interesting, he said.

Nine days after I dropped it off, Pete told me the bad news over the phone that the engine had seized and the mower was not worth repairing.

“I suspect – and this is purely speculation – is that the engine has seized after being run without enough oil,” he told me. Accordingly the mower would not be covered by any warranty.

So how much oil was in the mower, I asked.

“It looks like it’s been topped up,” he responded.

Topped up for mine means full. The oil in a mower run without much oil until it croaked but then “topped up” by some sneaky prick would look pretty fresh, for mine. Just a handy forensics hint for those in Pete’s repair workshop for the future when customers come through the door hellbent on pulling the wool over their eyes.

So there you have it, folks. Pete has obviously been confronted by too many motor mower abusers who have lied through their back teeth and topped up fucked-up mowers to try to cover their arses over a fucking miserable outlay of $139. He thinks I’m one of them. He’s accused me basically of lying. And of covering up for my lack of care over this fine piece of equipment.

How could you think so poorly of me, Pete? After we’d been on a first-name basis and everything in your shop!

But the bottom line is my mower had plenty of oil when it carked it. I’m not sure why the engine shat itself but it had nothing to do with any negligence on my part. Or lack of oil. Just a shit, lemony motor but that’s just purely speculation on my part.

Besides, it isn’t in my nature or sense of fairness to try something on like Pete has suggested. Bloody hell, I’ve got standards I live by and while the bar might be set fairly low, it’s certainly way above $139. $500 at least. Maybe more.

If I’d done the wrong thing over a shitty mower costing that little, I would have gladly copped the blame. And paid the price. I do have some pride – and honour.

But as I said before, how big a fuckwit am I for being so open and honest about what went down here?

Okay, okay. Give it a rest. I know. I know.