Rented water purifers cause wave of complaints

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Rented water purifers cause wave of complaints

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In the past three years, sanitation problems with rental water purifiers increased significantly due to poor company management, the Korea Consumer Agency reported yesterday.

In 2010, there were 103 complaints, compared with 137 in 2011 and 171 in 2012.

And in the first quarter this year, there were 46 consumer complaints about rental water purifiers, 48.4 percent more than the same period last year.

Of the 411 complaints from 2011-12, 135 (33.1 percent) were sanitation problems due to mismanagement.

Although there were hygiene problems - insects entering the purifier or mold and moss inside the rental units - attributable due to maintenance problems, such as failing to replace filters, companies nonetheless continued to collect their rental fees.

Other complaints involved excessive penalties when consumers terminated contracts (129), defects in products and installation (79).

According to the KCA, some consumers who tried to end 25,000 won per month contracts early were required to pay 60 percent of remaining rental fees as a penalty.

When the KCA compared the top 10 companies for 2012 alone, Hyundai Weguard had the highest number of complaints at 6.9 per 10,000 units, followed by Hanssem Effex with 5 and Cheil Aqua with 4.3.

Among top-tier companies in terms of market share, Chungho had 2.3 cases per 10,000 purifier units.

The KCA says it will take measures against major water purifier companies linked to hygiene issues to improve procedures.

Furthermore, the organization recommended that consumers carefully check their contracts with respect to regular maintenance such as cleaning and changing filters and list basic information and details including rental period and amount.

“Consumers should also be aware of the details of the termination of rental agreements as there are many cases where the rental companies automatically withdraw rental fees even after the termination of the contract,” said a KCA official.

By KIM JUNG-YOON [kjy@joongang.co.kr]

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