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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Closing the door on whitegoods manufacturing in Australia

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My 'pigeon pair' Westinghouse fridge and freezer. Notice the new fridge door (right) no longer bears the brand name. Photo Chris Dobney
My ‘pigeon pair’ Westinghouse fridge and freezer. Notice the new fridge door (right) no longer bears the brand name. Photo Chris Dobney

Chris Dobney

‘You can be sure if it’s Westinghouse’ was the slogan of the company my father used to work for many years ago. They proudly made fridges and other ‘whitegoods’ in Australia.

Six years back I bought a Westinghouse ‘pigeon pair’ fridge and freezer combo, partly in fond memory of my dear departed dad and partly because the salesman boasted the parts would be easily available because they were still made in Australia.

Famous last words.

A few weeks ago Electrolux, which bought the brand name in Australia, closed their doors – but not before the door of my frig dropped off, quite literally, in the middle of a hot and busy January.

With the aid of a long-suffering friend (thanks again Jeff) we managed to bodgie the door back on temporarily.

On January 19 I ordered a new door, or to be precise our local authorised repairer did on my behalf. The unwashed public are not allowed to speak to Electrolux directly.

In fact, even the repairers are not entitled to deal with them directly and must go through a middleman, in this case one based on the Gold Coast.

My part was duly ordered – and became part of a consignment valued at some $300k that mysteriously went missing. (I think they are writing a mini-series about it.)

One month and counting.

The consignment was replaced in its entirety, it appears, except for my fridge door.

Another month delay.

Finally, after about a million phone calls to my poor harassed repairer – and another million calls from her to the middleman and from the middleman to Electrolux – the truth came out. My door wouldn’t even make it into the country until March 25 (which I seem to recall was Good Friday but now I’m just being pedantic).

Today, four months to the day after I ordered it, my new fridge door was finally installed, bringing a long and very sorry saga to an end. No, it’s not still under warranty so I still have to pay them for it. My repairer even speculated they had to hand-make it for me.

But what was delivered was a bare door, no new plastic racks inside, no new seal, not even a handle.

And, irony of ironies, even the brand name is missing – apparently that’s a separately orderable item.

Now I don’t give a damn about the Swedish company Electrolux that no longer even manufactures in its home country but I’m pissed off that they’ve dragged a good Aussie brand name down the gurgler with them.

Yes, you can be sure if it’s Westinghouse – sure that from now on it will be made overseas and sure that the parts will be almost impossible to obtain.

Oh but in my case, you can’t even be sure if it is a Westinghouse because the bastards won’t even part with their own livery without an extra payment.

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