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Product Reviews

Products ReviewThis section stems from the frustration at buying products in India.  There is little consumer information available here, and little chance for recourse to the store or manufacturer if you have a problem.  This section is designed to share information on household products available in India.  This can include appliances, household goods, food products - just about anything you can buy on a national level.  Please contribute.  Let us know what you bought, how it works, and how you would rate it on a scale of 1-5.  The idea is to share the pain, or joy, and perhaps help out someone else planning a purchase.  The more people contribute, the more useful this page will be.  And there is the slight chance that, over time, comments and complaints made here will have an effect on the manufacturers and retailers in this country.

General information

Home Appliances, called "White Goods" here, are fairly new on the Indian market.  Some companies, like Phillips and Godrej, have been around for some time, but there are a lot of new entrants, many set up with foreign, usually Japanese, collaboration.  The rising affluence and growing size of the middle class has produced a demand and growing competition has led to an increase in quality.  But a look at the market suggests that both manufacturers and retailers have quite a ways to go to reach the level of quality and service available elsewhere.

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Sales Techniques

Since many consumers are buying the products for the first time, there are some peculiarities in the sales process.  While looking at food processors (called mixies, here) I was surprised at the number of sales clerks in a department store that kept pushing one particular brand.  It turned out they were not store employees, but sent by the dealers to push their products in-store.  I was even offered a free demonstration in my house - a big change from being handed the product with an instruction book.

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Discounts available & Guarantees

Most prices quoted are Manufacturer's Suggested List Price.  Shop around, and ask for a discount.  There is always a discount.  Ten percent seems standard, and if you look around you can do better.

Guarantees
Most products come with a guarantee of some sort, but do not expect the kind of exchange policy common in North America.  Most stores will show you that the product is working before you leave the store (they even took a fridge out of the carton and plugged it in) and if it breaks down after that, you're on your own.  Even if it breaks the same day, the chances of getting a replacement are very poor.  You get repairs with the guarantee, not replacement, and if repairs take days or weeks, too bad.

One weak point common to many electrical appliance is the plug.  For some reason, electrical plugs here are made of very brittle plastic, and they break easily.  I've replaced the plug on our iron at least four times in one year.  Shouldn't happen.

Here are some categories for household appliances.  It isn't complete.  Help us out with your experiences.

Ovens
Sunflame 0TG 2500 - Craving rotisserie-roasted chickens and missing fresh baked bread, I recently bought an oven.  There are a number on the market.  The one I bought was made by Sunflame.  It was the top of the line model - OTG 2500.  It has a 31 litre capacity, an auto-cutoff timer, and a rotisserie.  It lists for Rs 6,000, but with discount was Rs 5,400.
How did it work?
Here's the story.  I brought it home, wired on the plug, which was included but not attached.  Then I prepped a chicken and set out to attach it to the rotisserie.  Guess what.  It didn't fit! And this was a small chicken.
They have mounted the rotisserie motor quite high in the oven.  Even a small chicken touches the elements on the grill at the top.  Moreover, the apparatus for the rotisserie - a sort of cage for the bird - is very poorly made and poorly designed.  The wing nuts to tighten the cage to the rotisserie skewer are impossible to turn by hand.  There just isn't room for the fingers to fit.  I had to use pliers.  Also, the rotisserie skewer has to be inserted into a small socket that's hard to see in the back of a hot oven.  It's easy to get burned.  I spent almost an hour trying to wrestle the chicken onto the apparatus, adjusting it this way or that to try and get the chicken to rotate in the oven.  No chance.  First its feet would catch.  Next time its back.  Even when, in a black rage, I hacked off the ends of the legs, it still wouldn't turn.
By now I was practically frothing.  I'd burned myself in three places on the hot oven, and guests were arriving.  I hurled the chicken into a pan and set it in the oven to bake.  The good news is that the oven did a lovely job of baking.  I just wish I had saved myself about 1500 rupees and not bought the timer and rotisserie model.
One other thing.  The shelves in the oven are very flimsy and there is no device to hold them onto the wires they rest on.  They tip when pulled only part way out of the oven.  As soon as I removed the chicken, the pan of boiling fat drippings tipped out all over the floor.  I managed to avoid the oil while hanging onto the bird, but it could have easily been a disaster.  Simple modifications would result in stronger supports for the tray and ensure the tray "clung" to the supports.  Other weaknesses - no insulation.  Heat leaks into the kitchen.
Rating - 2 stars out of 5, and that only because some of the other ovens I looked at were even worse.  My advice - skip the rotisserie attachment and be careful handling the trays.  Better yet - try an oven that Phillips puts out.  It is small, but friends have one and find it good.

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Refrigerators
Videocon Model S 23 TT - This is a simple, mid-sized fridge (small by any North American standards) that has done a good job for the past few months.  It has a 230 liter capacity and is a one-door model.  It offers a fair bit of room, cools well, and has a decent freezer capacity.  It is not frost free, but pushing a defrost button every week or so ensures an automatic defrost.  Melted ice runs out the back and evaporates by itself.  You don't have to do anything.  It starts itself up again when defrosted.  Price - right around Rs 10,000 for the model with the laminated surface on the door and special work table top.  Don't forget to get a stabilizer, and because it is not too tall you might get one of those stands to raise it up.  The stand is also useful if you have an ant problem.
Rating - 4 stars out of 5 Can't say how the warranty service is.  Hopefully we'll never have to find out.

Irons
So far, we've gotten two.  The first is a simple, plain jane iron by Vijay.  It does what irons to, and did it adequately.  Weakness is the plug, which broke early, but so have all the replacement plugs.  Why not use a rubberized one, guys? Cost was about Rs 500, but it was bought a while ago.
Rating - 3 stars out of 5.
The second is a jazzy steam model from Phillips.  This model is the Comfort 250 Silverstone.  It is self cleaning, has a coated sole-plate, and produces steam like billy-o.  Gets those stubborn wrinkles out fast.  Best of all, it has a rubberized plug.  Also the cord wraps away nicely.
Price is about Rs 1250.
Rating - 5 out of 5.

Microwaves
Help us out here

Sound Systems
Help us out here

Washing Machines
Help us out here

Vehicles
Two Wheelers - For my assessment of the Enfield Bullet motorcycle, check the travel section (The Enfield).  Over all, it's a great bike that breaks down frequently and is hard to ride.  Sound contradictory? It is.  So's the rating.  The bike gets a 3 and the great Budda-Budda sound gets a full 5.  My advice - get one so you can say you did.  When I told a friend in Canada that I was living in India and driving a Bullet, he said softly "You've got it all!"

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