SERENE MARKET ADVISORY

 

SAFETY, COMPLIANCE & WARRANTY ADVISORY

(This is not a product recall notice)

Released: 11th September 2017
Updated: 9th February 2019
Updated: 12th November 2019

 

A. ISSUED BY:

1. Serene Heating Australia Pty Ltd ABN 11 605 789 197 (SHAPL)
(Established in 2015, operated as licensee to represent Serene Industries (Hong Kong) heating products in Australia www.serene-ind.com (Serene Living branded products)

The directors of SHAPL terminated their license to represent Serene Industries (HK) in Australia on 11 September 2017. This was owing to numerous unresolved quality and compliance issues raised with Serene Industries (HK) that have since spilled over in to Heatco as detailed below.

2. Heatco Australia Pty Ltd ABN 11 613 418 518 (Heatco)
(Established in 2016 as an ecommerce reseller (customer of Serene Australia) for various heating products in Australia, including Serene Living products)

Both companies share common majority ownership.
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B. SERENE S2088 WALL FAN HEATERS 

1. This notice largely excludes the S2088.
2. The decision for us to cease selling the S2088 is commercially based on:
(i) The S2088 warranty return rate with respect to the 10Y Warranty assurances published by Serene Industries.
(ii) The S2088 does not meet industry best practice for installers and we shouldn't have to keep fending calls from confused installers over misleading installation instructions.
(iii) We have made numerous recommendations to the manufacturer Serene Industries for corrective action since 2016, all to no avail'. 

3. The S2088 has full legal compliance.
4. The S2088 has no risk of electrical safety or fire hazard (hence this is not a recall notice).
5. Our most serious concerns below are for Serene products that either we have either never sold or we quickly stopped selling years ago, but they still remain widely promoted elsewhere.

6. For all enquiries on S2088 heaters please email support@heatingco.com.au
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C. ONE MINUTE OVERVIEW SUMMARY

1. WITHDRAWING Our two (2x) companies Serene Heating Australia (SHAPL) and Heatco Australia (HAPL) can no longer support Serene manufactured products in Australia and New Zealand.

2. SAFETY CRITICAL There are two (2x) issues, safety and warranties.

3. INERT As licensed electrical practitioners, SHAPL and HAPL have previously notified Energy Safe NZ of our concerns with no result.

4. SOLID SUPPORT. In the distant past, responsible electrical manufacturers jumped to immediate attention if there was an issue of safety, cost to them was never an issue and they acted, remediated, made safe.
(Example: Skope Storage Heaters 1970’s + PDL Goldair Heaters 1980’s)

5. WARRANTY SUPPORT 
This is now delegated back to the manufacturer Serene Industries Hong Kong who to date have deliberately avoided all product Warranty claims and responsibilities to both SHAPL and Heatco Australia. Contact details are below.

6. ELECTRIC SHOCKS & FIRES The largest issue is the lack of ACTION from authority Energy Safe NZ despite reported electric shocks and fires on some Serene products.

7. ENERGY SAFE NEW ZEALAND Must insist/demand that Serene Industries Ltd Hong Kong STOP selling Serene Heated Towel Rails with no earth. This is a most dangerous practice which will inevitably result in a fatality.

8. HOW & WHY? The only reason Serene Industries (Hong Kong) can keep selling these products is because in NZ law they only require either: 
# An 'SDoc' self-certification (akin to allowing all car owners to self-certify their car saftey/WOF checks) 
# A standards certification house to sign off products based only on the China factory test records. Their is no requirement that the products go through a local independent laboratory inspection and testing with the factory test records being cross checked.
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THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT RECALL NOTICE.

THERE IS NO PRODUCT WITH ANY RISK OF FIRE OR ELECTRICAL SAFETY THAT HAS BEEN SOLD BY US. 

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D. HEATCO SUPPORT FOR SERENE LIVING BRANDED PRODUCTS 

1. Heatco are no longer supporting warranty claims on Serene Living branded heating products that have been sold via either Serene Heating Australia or Heatco Australia.
We are now referring all claims to the manufacturer Serene Industries (HK) or their New Zealand sales office. (see below)
Includes all products sold by Serene Heating Australia between 2016 – 2017 and Heatco Australia 2016 - 2019. 

2. Heatco have also voluntarily ceased selling all Serene Living branded bathroom heaters in Australia and New Zealand from 12th November 2019.

3. Heatco still remain available to fully support any customer making a Serene  product warranty claim to Serene Industries (HK). 

4. This advisory does not affect the promotion or support of any another brand or product sold by either Heatco Australia or Heatco New Zealand.
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THIS IS NOT A PRODUCT RECALL NOTICE.

THERE IS NO PRODUCT WITH ANY RISK OF FIRE OR ELECTRICAL SAFETY THAT HAS BEEN SOLD BY US. 

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E. REASONS FOR THIS ACTION

1. Serene Australia have attempted prior to raise all safety, compliance and quality concerns directly with the manufacturer Serene Industries (HK), with NO tangible response.
This action is an absolute last resort. Serene Industries (HK) management have been given numerous opportunities since mid 2016 to address these extensively documented quality, safety and compliance issues raised.

2. Serene Industries (HK) promote extensive product quality assurances and warranties that consistently fall well short of industry best practise.

3. Heatco have independently carried out their own safety checks on all Serene products prior to sale and have administered and supported all Serene warranty claims categorically and to their own account.

4. The issue is exacerbated by the fact that Heatco also receive an increasing number of calls from New Zealand contractors and consumers who struggle to get proper warranty support from either Serene Industries (HK) their NZ Office or their resellers.
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F. QUALITY ISSUES

1. Serene Industries (HK) heating product quality issues of significance:
# S2066/S2068 Bathroom fan heaters, 2 Year warranty that have a 60% return rate within 1 year.
# All metal ladder heated towel rails, previously a standard 5 year warranty that Serene has lifted to a 20 Year warranty, yet product deterioration or failure is frequently reported to Heatco within 18 months.
# S6066 Infrared outdoor heater, 5 Year warranty and 100% failure rate in 1 year.
# S2026/2027 Electronic panel heaters. 10 Year warranty, 80% failure rate in 1 year.

2. Serene non-heating products that are also prone to poor quality and return rates:
# S4011 bathroom scales, 1 Year warranty and 60% failure straight out of their carton.
# S4022 bathroom mirrors , 5 Year warranty and 50% failure within 1 year.
# Venice towel rack accessory for heated towel rails, 100% failure stright out of their carton. 
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G. ELECTRICAL SAFETY & COMPLIANCE

1. The key issue with Serene product certification being flawed:
1.1 Many products are only required by law to have a Serene generated generic ‘SDoc’. This is effectively Serene ‘self-certifying’ their products with no regulatory requirement for independent local laboratory inspections or testing of the actual products.
This is akin to allowing car owners to self-certify their cars periodic saftey checks or Warrant of Fitness (WOF).

1.2 Of the Serene products that do require independent certification – this is achieved by the NZS/AS Certification Authority relying on the product testing information supplied by the China factory. We now realise that the local Certification Authority has never actually inspected/cross checked the product to the factory supplied testing documents.

1.3 The Directors of Serene Australia and Heatco are the only people associated with the business of Serene Industries (HK) that have combined:
# Deep electrical training/knowledge
# Extensive trade based installation experience
# Extensive experience in global heater manufacturing and on that basis have tested all the Serene products.

Everyone else connected to the business of Serene from the senior managers and sales staff to the distributors, do not have this experience base and are prone to taking everything to do with safety and compliance at face value.

2. Products with electrical safety concerns under trade test:
# Serene CC5. CC7, SS5, SS7, SS7W series all metal heated towel rails .
# S4022 bathroom mirror
# S2068 Bathroom heater
# S2067 Portable heater
These 4x products are all wall mounted all metal appliances - yet they have no earth wire.

Serene Industries provide a misguided assurance that these products are instead double insulated, when in fact in accordance with electrical wiring regulations and testing they do not even meet this standard. Confirmed by the fact that numerous customers have reported to Heatco that they received electric shocks from Serene heated towel rails.

An earth wire on an all metal appliance is small but critical piece of safety gear. Having no earth wire is akin to cars being manufactured with no seat belts.

Extensive research determines that Serene is the only brand in Australia or NZ we can find that has all metal products with no earth wire. Further, we are at a loss as to why the earth wire would be omitted considering its significance to electrical safety. The cost saved in the manufacture would be minuscule, measured in cents.

# S2088 Bathroom heater
Incorrect cable identification at the terminal block (red wire in a nuetral/black terminal) 
(This is not illegal or electrically unsafe, but it is not industry best practice and causes us to have to fend numerous calls from confused installers).

Especially when we have confirmation direct from the China production manager in mid 2017 that they acknowledge our concerns being valid and will immediately make the changes to the wire colour coding (there is no cost).
Yet to date no changes were ever implemented by the factory or Serene.

# S2067 Portable heater
As well as no earth, it is also incorrectly wired - it switches the neutral wire - not the phase. So electrically the heater remains alive when the switch is turned off.

3. Of significance the catalyst(s) for these safety and quality concerns arising and action taken by us:
3.1 Reports of Serene heated towel rails giving off electric shocks in a wet bathroom.
3.2 We learn that the largest product safety certification house in Australaia / New Zealand has long refused to be invloved with Serene Industries Ltd (HK) or its Directors.
3.3 Because of these unresolved quality and compliance issues, Serene Australia’s insurers declined to continue to cover our business with any product coming direct from the China factory. With our Insurers walking from the Serene Industries HK product range the Serene Australia Directors had no choice but to terminate their Australian License.
3.4 There has already been an independent investigation in 2017 launched by the Energy Regulator in New Zealand concerning the Serene S2077 and S2078 model bathroom fan heaters sold in New Zealand as a result of several heaters catching fire - at the same time it was also discovered the product has a long expired compliance certificate.
(Our experience with the S2077 was so non-compliant that Heatco quickly recalled and destroyed their stock).
However to our absolute astonishment Energy Safe NZ took little action.
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H. WHAT ACTION HAS BEEN TAKEN BY THE ENERGY REGULATOR(S)?

The same concerns are treated very differently in New Zealand to how they are in Australia.
1. The Australian Safety Regulators (where Heatco / Serene Australia operates) are very tough, unrelenting and persistent. Self-certified and non-compliant products are quickly pulled up and in Australia there is a far tougher 'duty of care' attitude to health and safety that is enforced by the unions and the trade, irrespective of the product's certification status on paper. 

2. Energy Safe in New Zealand (where Serene Industries operates) take the attitude that there have not been enough incidents reported with Serene products so they are not concerned and in any case the products are self-certified. The trade in NZ tends to have a culture of 'blind faith' reliance on a product certification on paper.

Unfortunately the consistent pattern in NZ is that it always takes an high profile fatal incident before the NZ Regulators are galvanised into action. For example:
# Pike River Mine (the same mine simply could never be built in Australia because of their tough mining regulations).
# NZTA Warrant of Fitness certifications 1x Road death because of a faulty seatbelt. (Quickly 3x WOF testing officers around NZ have their licenses revoked and 2000x cars immediately require re-testing)
# NZ Gun Laws. 51x people killed in Christchurch by a licensed gun owner. Overnight there is a NZ firearms recall and a gun register is established.
(This new register actually existed in New Zealand 10 years prior but was gradually disbanded by Police from 2007 because of administrative costs. Also this offender was actually an Australian who committed the offence in NZ because akin to Pike River, tight Australian gun laws largely prevented this tragedy happening in Australia).

3. Regretfully, it will very likely take a serious incident or fatality in New Zealand for the the NZ Energy Regulator to properly enforce electrical product safety as the public would assume is already happening.
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I. SERENE PRODUCT WARRANTY CLAIMS

Heatco hereby give notice
Effective from the 12th November 2019: 

1. Heatco are referring all customers that have a Serene product warranty claim direct to the manufacturer:


Serene Industries Ltd, Hong Kong Tel: +852 2325 3210 
Christopher Woodward, Managing Director      christopher@serene-ind.com
Alex Woodward, Operations Manager              alexW@serene-ind.com

Serene New Zealand, Christchurch Sales Office  Tel: +64 3 344 5550  
Chris Ahearn, National Sales Manager            chrisA@serene-ind.com

2. That claims driven by potential safety or quality issues should be directed to the Serene MD and OM in Hong Kong in the first instance or their New Zealand sales office.
3. That all Consumer and Government organisations concerned with electrical and fire hazard safety are being re-notified.
4. That Heatco are not liable in any way for accidents, fires, electric shocks, property damage, personnel harm in the past of future arisen from Serene Industries Ltd (HK).
5. Serene Industries Ltd (HK) and their New Zealand sales office are the original manufacturers and as such are required by law to support their warranties published, irrespective of who the reseller is.
6. Heatco were authorised resellers of Serene Living products. Heatco was an ecommerce customer of Serene Australia when they were under license to Serene Industries (HK).
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J. ONGOING SUPPORT FROM HEATCO

Heatco still remain available to fully support any customer making a Serene  product warranty claim to Serene Industries (HK). 
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K. SUPPORTING INFORMATION

Full and comprehensive background and technical information is available on request to support all claims.
(Too much to include/attach herein) 
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The Directors
Serene Heating Australia Pty Ltd        supoort@sereneheating.com.au
Heatco Australia Pty Ltd                     support@heatingco.com.au
Melbourne, VIC

Ends