But is it ‘Cool’?

‘Exactly what it says on the box’

One of my sons, during the very brief hot weather period a month or two ago, which was referred to as ‘summer’ decided that he wanted to cool himself, along with his kids, in the playroom where the television sat. Now my lad is a talented micro-electronics engineer, with a fair brain on his shoulders, so he checked out the products available on this national chain where all sorts of electronic and electrical goods are sold, and saw the item which advertised itself as being capable of ‘Heating and Cooling’. As this product was designed and built by a manufacturer with a Nationally well-known name, with a reputation for delivering on its promises, he bought the Fan Heater/Cooler, and took it home; but rapidly called me to ask my advice, as he said ‘it might be a good heater, but a cooler, it is definitely not!’

So I had a look, and I discovered that what he had bought was a Fan Heater, a very well designed and manufactured Fan Heater; but just that. The widely- and loudly-advertised ‘Cooling’ was simply the fan boosting air in the room to pass speedily at the occupant, which gives the ‘impression’, if not exactly the ‘reality’, of being cooled. As my son is not a mechanically-qualified engineer, he had been taken in by the fancy advertising and wording. If you wish to cool down your room, house or office, if you wish to alter and lower the ambient temperature of that space, you need a heat-exchanger, a chiller; you need something more than just a fan; you need something like this! So we packed everything back up in the box, got in the car, and went to the local retail park where this chain’s store was situated, but the manager refused to refund my son’s money, as he said that the fan was working perfectly; despite our justified claim that the product came under the ‘Sale of Goods Act, and my son’s money should be refunded.

So I generated a slightly acerbic e-mail, sent by my son to both the retailer’s and the manufacturer’s head offices, detailing our complaint, which included the legal phrase, ‘Not fit for Purpose’ and also stated that the phrases on the box which claimed ‘cooling’ were unachievable; and demanded that the cash, which was for a considerable sum, be immediately returned.

Needless to say, the next day, we received a reply, which although arguing that the product complied with the specification, decided that some ‘confusion’ had arisen in my son’s mind as to the true purpose of the fan heater, and stated that they had arranged the refund of my son’s money upon the return of the product.

Now I have often been described as having a slightly ‘bolshy’ outlook on life, but I reckon this is slightly unfair; all I ever demand is fair treatment. From arguments with the County Council and indeed with Central Government, to minor disputes with local nuisances, I have taken them all on, and usually, but not always, won through; I have a strike rate of around 96%. With the instance I discussed about the fan, they were so obviously wrong that I really wondered if they thought that they were correct, but I was able to refer to an outside review which stated exactly my argument, and so they caved in once the message got through; but I just wonder how many people would have done nothing, and said nothing; and accepted that their money was gone? We, as a Nation, don’t argue anymore, we don’t get uptight, and we damn well should!

6 comments for “But is it ‘Cool’?

  1. okjoe
    September 8, 2015 at 11:54 am

    I’d describe you as a ‘militant consumer’ and you’re not one of a rare breed. I never return anything. Buyer Beware!

  2. PJH
    September 8, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    Well, technically, if all it’s doing is circulating air to speed evaporation of sweat off the skin to give the appearance of cooling, rather than actually extracting heat from the room, it is in fact _heating_the_room_ (minimally, of course, due to the work the motor is doing and the fan against the air it’s moving,) which certainly falls foul of the SoGA.

    What he really needed is an ‘evaporative cooler‘ (which cools by evaporating water held within the unit,) since one of those AirCon units you linked to a picture of tend to be rather expensive for this country.

    • Daedalus
      September 9, 2015 at 8:14 am

      But evaporative cooling only works well if you have a big difference between the wet and dry bulb temperatures. In summer in this country we tend to have quite high humidity along with our higher temperatures. So the cooling effect can be quite mooderate to the point of being not worth the effort.


  3. Ed P
    September 8, 2015 at 12:11 pm

    When the fan is running the unit is consuming power and so actually heating the air marginally. So it’s a heater or heater!

    If you like “having a go”, might I recommend Cravendale “milk”? described and promoted as,”Filtered for freshness”, it’s actually forced through Diesel injectors at high pressure to break down the fat globules, which makes them undetectable when rancid. So a better slogan might be, “Modified to disguise when it’s gone off”. Who can you trust these days?

  4. Flyinthesky
    September 8, 2015 at 5:59 pm

    They’re probably right within legal definitions, a fan may reduce temperatures by a degree or two.
    If your son was really smart he would know that in order to cool to any significance it must have a compressor, contain a refrigerant and It would cost south of £500-00. What is actually required is an air conditioner that has a reverse, heating, function. Functional ones have a flexi exhaust to be directed outside to emit the cold or hot air.

  5. September 8, 2015 at 6:31 pm

    Yes, misrepresentation I think. The only ‘confusion’ is the retailers, describing a vanilla fan function as a ‘cooler’ which it is not, having no passive or active heat exchange mechanism.

    Mike, I’d be inclined to talk to those nice people at your local trading standards. Or at the very least threaten to talk to them.

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