I'm listing here all the emails exchanged with the manufacturer from the 10th of August when I had my accident. Any names, personal information, addresses and phone numbers as well as other companies and governmental entities copied in the communications were removed.
On 10 August 2010 18:09, Andre wrote:
Dear Presso UK,
Quick and simple question: Does Presso expresso machines comply with any
safety regulation in the UK or EU ?
On 11 August 2010 14:19, Presso wrote:
Yes, Presso does.
On 11 August 2010 15:49, Andre wrote:
May I ask which ones then, as I can see 4 design awards in the product box
but nothing about safety even in the manual and your website?
On 11 Aug 2010, at 20:32, Presso wrote:
Presso passed safety tests for the plastic parts which are FDA approved.
Also Presso has a food safety sheet from last year.
We hope this helps.
On 16 August 2010 12:35:32, Andre wrote:
Dear Presso Team,
The FDA deals with food safety issues and has no jurisdiction outside the United States.
The other "food safety sheet from last year" you mentioned, as you didn't specify, is still a black box to me.
The reason why I'm insisting on this is because I had an accident with one of your Presso machines.
I have been using it since last May and was trying a ground slightly thiner than the usual, following a review's hint. After applying pressure on the levers for some time like usually it just exploded on my face. The levers collapsed and the cylinder cracked. I had hot water splashed all over and a sharp fragment of the cylinder came in my direction.
Fortunately I didn't have any injury but I was startled by the burst and, after examining the way it has broken, with what could have happened to my hands and face.
I then re-read the product's manual (attached) looking for any tip or warning about pressure but the only thing I could find was "use coffee ground for expresso machines" which can vary from grinder to grinder, not to mention the tamp pressure. The product's box shows four design awards but nothing about safety. Instead of the "CE mark" I found a "Made in China" in the bottom of it. According to the wikipedia: "It is also obligatory for all products made in third countries (non-member states) which are sold in the EEA. In that case, the importer has to make sure that the manufacturer outside the EU has taken the necessary steps that allow him to affix the CE marking." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CE_mark#Countries_requiring_the_CE_Marking
My biggest disappointment however was when examining the broken connection arm. It turned out to be hollow exactly in the corner where it has broken. You don't need to be a mechanical engineer to realise it is one of the parts which suffer the biggest stress in the system. I'm attaching some pictures so that you can see it by yourself.
I also found other people with the same problem (despite their connection arms didn't seem hollow from the picture back in 2006)
The shop where I bought it from was very attentive and considerate offering to replace the broken parts.
Please, do not get me wrong. I like my Presso machine very much but at this point, as a consumer, I'm not sure how safe is to use it.
Thanks for your attention,
On 17 Aug 2010, at 13:59, Presso wrote:
Firstly, we are extremely concerned to learn about this serious failure to your Presso machine and the shock it must have given you.
Customer safety is of utmost importance to us and therefore we need to understand exactly what has happened to your machine.
Thank you for emailing the photographs. Please would you send the broken arms to us at the address below for further inspection?
We have previously modified the arms and reinforced them – so to hear that the arms are hollow is of concern to us.
We will of course happily send you replacement parts free of charge, including arms and cylinder.
We look forward to hearing from you.
On 18 Aug 2010, at 10:57 Andre wrote:
Dear Presso Team,
I contacted ConsumerDirect yesterday afternoon and was advised to hold the broken parts with me until somebody from the Trading Standards Department contacts me. They have said it should take no longer than 5 business days.
As the product does't fall under any specific EU Directive but under the The General Product Safety Regulations, it's important to know if it is compliant. I would like to know, for example, if my broken Presso is considered safe or unsafe and if I had enough information available to assess/prevent the accident.
Meanwhile, as you said customer safety is of utmost importance to you, I would be very happy to know of any steps your company gave towards making Presso a safe product. Any official/trusted compliance, certification, assessment or test other than the "food safety sheet from last year" you mentioned previously or the "Made in China" on the bottom of the product's box?
If in normal usage I should expect between 5 and 10 bars (as stated in your website) how much does it support before breaking? Is there any safety margin? Any load/stress/fatigue testing?? If it's a design flaw, I'm afraid just replacing broken parts will not solve the problem.
I would like to emphasise that my main concern is about safety. If it was just by the broken parts it certainly would be quicker and cheaper for me to re-order them or perhaps discard the machine and look for something better.
On 18 Aug 2010, at 12:45 Presso wrote:
Thank you for your email.
We understand your concerns and questions regarding safety regulations.
The initial reply regarding food safety and FDA approval was due to lack of information regarding the query.
Unfortunately the Director of Presso is on annual leave and will be back the week of 30th August.
We will of course bring this matter to his immediate attention.
A response will be sent to you then, with information you are requesting.
Please accept our apologies for the delay in getting a full response to you.
On 31 Aug 2010, at 15:34, P H wrote:
Dear Mr P,
Let me start by thanking you for taking the time to write to us on this matter and attaching detailed photos to your earlier email. I am deeply relieved that you were not injured by this failure.
You have quite rightly inquired about our product compliance procedures, but as you have involved the Trading Standards Institute I suspect that I will be liaising directly with them. I can however assure you that we have met all necessary requirements to manufacture and distribute this product. When launching the product we contacted Trading Standards and were advised that we do not need to print the CE mark on packaging. Additionally we requested a copy of the 'blue guide' to ensure we met with any additional requirements.
On the matter of your broken unit, it seems from the picture that there is indeed an air bubble in the metal of the failed arm. Naturally, if this is the case then this would explain the failure. We would very much like to inspect this part and hope that you will be able to send it to us in the near future to verify my above assumption.
Kindly let me know if you would like us to send you a replacement unit or for us to help in securing a refund from the store where it was purchased.
P H Director
On 2 Sep 2010, at 9:07, Andre wrote:
Dear Mr H,
Thanks for your follow-up and for the replacement parts that arrived to me last week. I already examined the new connection arm and published the results on my blog at http://mybrokenpresso.blogspot.com/
The Trading Standards department was involved as it is the local enforcement authority for the GPSR in England (and as we already know the product doesn't fall under any specific Directive). Following ConsumerDirect's advise, I am waiting for their feedback and as soon as I have a position on this matter I have no objections in making the broken parts available for your inspection. Anyway, if I was able to buy a defective product is because (a) it was produced (b) it wasn't tested.
Thanks for your unit replacement offer as well; I don't think it is the case now but together with an efficient PR it certainly would have solved the problem in a very early stage.
On 2 Sep 2010, at 13:02, P H wrote:
Dear Mr P,
Clearly you feel twice wronged here, firstly by the product failure and secondly by the responses from this office. I do understand your position and we continue on our path to operational excellence.
I have already past on some of your photos to our factory and we are reviewing our Quality Assurance procedure to make sure that (what I can only assume from your photos) this type of manufacturing defect can be spotted early.
P H Director
On 3 Sep 2010, at 9:35, Andre wrote:
Dear Mr H,
Please do not take it personally against you or your company. In my right as a consumer and duty as a citizen I am just bringing the facts of an accident to the attention of the responsible authorities so that they can analyse and take the appropriate actions according to the regulations in place.
In my most recent contact with the Trading Standards I have been asked to wait for their feedback and to hold the parts at the moment. Meanwhile, as this might delay your review, please let me know if better pictures or perhaps a video of the part could be of any help.
On 6 Sep 2010, at 09:39, P H wrote:
Dear Mr P,
Thanks for the note - I understand your motives in taking this action and I don't take it personally. The photos you already sent are certainly enough for our factory to understand the problem. No need for you to take more pictures, but I appreciate the offer.
P H Director