With labour, the cost of fitting the replacement would have come to more than pounds 400 for what she describes as a simple electric clock.
Ms Callow, a freelance book and journal editor living in London, said: 'I feel thoroughly cheated. How can it be that one part costs more than the whole? There must be something wrong with their pricing structure. Either that, or they don't expect anyone to pay the real cost because they all have a warranty on their machines.
'The oven's clock-timer has not worked for the last two or three years and last month I got around to getting it fixed.
'I called the Zanussi agent and was told there would be a call-out fee of pounds 45.83, plus parts, to come and fix it. When the technician came, he said I needed a new timer and quoted me pounds 269 plus VAT and labour to replace it. He was not in the least surprised that I fell about laughing and declined the 'invitation' to order the part.'
After complaining directly to Zanussi, she was offered first a 25 per cent, and later a 30 per cent discount on the cost, which she refused.
When the Independent contacted Zanussi, the company said: 'In the light of this, Zanussi is reviewing its cost structure on this particular part. And, as a gesture of goodwill, we would like to offer one to Ms Callow free of charge.'
The company denied that the part's cost was so high because it is normally replaced under warranty. 'It is extremely reliable and we have to replace very few either in or out of guarantee,' it said. The cost of a five-year warranty on an oven would be about pounds 60.
Zanussi insurance warranties come through a London company, Domestic & General. Colin Honey, managing director, said: 'I am surprised the complaint is about Zanussi because they are normally very good.
'There are some manufacturers and some repair companies that charge a lot, but we aim to stop that kind of thing happening. Having said that, the cost of this part does seem quite expensive.'
Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Please do not send SAEs or original documents as we cannot guarantee to deal with every letter personally.Reuse content