Dave Carbone spent $825 for a brand-new Whirlpool Duet washing machine on Dec. 14, 2014.
It’s been nothing but trouble.
Carbone said he tried to do a load of laundry a week after the machine was installed, but he couldn’t get the washer to turn on.
“The machine didn’t display any error codes, and I’ve never had a problem with a Whirlpool product in the past 20 years, so I didn’t think it was a defective product,” Carbone said. “But the same problem happened three other occasions over the next several weeks, and in March of this year there also was a loud buzzing like noise coming from the back of the machine where the electrical cord enters the machine.”
He called Whirlpool and was referred to an authorized repair technician.
Carbone said he took the day off from work to meet the tech.
“The authorized tech checked the machine and said the problem was a defective computer control panel that originated on the manufacturing floor,” Carbone said.
The tech ordered a new electrical control panel, along with a new user interface and locking mechanism. Carbone said the tech wasn’t sure about the loud electrical noises coming from the back of the machine.
Given that the machine was still new, the fix would be covered under the one-year warranty, the tech told Carbone.
That was good.
But Carbone has a separate Whirlpool dryer unit that sits on top of the washer.
“For the repair to be made, that dryer has to be disconnected,” Carbone said. “It requires a second person and the repair company charges to do that,” Carbone said.
The tech recommended Carbone call Whirlpool to see if it would cover the charge.
Carbone said he contacted the company by phone, email, and Facebook. The company responded, but Carbone wasn’t satisfied with the answer.
“All Whirlpool did is tell me that having the customer pay even for a warrantied repair is Whirlpool’s company policy,” he said.
When the part came in, Carbone took another day off work to meet the tech. And this time, he had to pay $133.75 to move the dryer.
He wasn’t happy, but at least the washer would work now.
Or so Carbone thought.
When he tried to use the washer after the repair, he said the machine completely stopped after the beginning of the cycle.
That was at the end of April.
Carbone said he called the tech again, and had to take another day off from work to meet the tech.
“He said the replacement computer control panel was also defective,” he said.
So the tech ordered another replacement electronic control panel.
“I’ll have to take off work a fourth time,” Carbone said. “Whirlpool’s web site says their `Purpose’ is to not waste the customer’s time, but that’s exactly what they’ve been doing to me, plus making me pay. When I brought that to their attention, all they could say is, `We’re sorry we couldn’t resolve this the way you wanted.'”
Carbone said the tech suggested he ask Whirlpool to extend the warranty.
So Carbone, while waiting for the new part, emailed the company. Ten days later, no one had responded.
“The tech did mention that if the second repair attempt were to fail he might be able to label the machine as unrepairable, but doing that might result in Whirlpool wanting a second repair company to come out to confirm that,” Carbone said.
He calculated that another repair company and a new machine delivery and installation would mean a total of seven appointments.
“That’s a lot of time to take off work, plus the $133.75 out-of-pocket cost,” he said. “With $20 billion of sales last year, $125 and a few hours time may not a big deal to you, but it sure is to me,” he said.
He asked Bamboozled for help.
WHO SHOULD PAY?
We reviewed Carbone’s receipts and a timeline of events as he said they happened, and then we looked at Whilepool’s web site.
And Carbone correctly reported the company’s $20 billion sales figure, and its ‘Purpose’ as stated on its web site.
It also says, under a “Code of Ethics” heading: “We will pursue our business with honor, fairness and respect for the individual and the public at large … ever mindful that there is no right way to do a wrong thing.”
That’s all good.
We reached out to Whirlpool the day before the tech was scheduled to make the latest fix.
We wanted the company to explain why it wouldn’t pay for the move of the dryer, which was necessary for the repair, and also how many repairs it would take before a machine was declared defective.
While the company mulled it over, techs returned to Carbone’s home for the fourth time.
The repair techs replaced two parts, Carbone said. One was the electronic control panel, and they also replaced a water pressure sensor.
“So now a total of four parts inside the washer have been replaced,” Carbone said. “After not working properly the past six months from the time I bought the washer, the machine successfully turned on and completed four loads this past weekend.”
In the meantime, Whirlpool reviewed Carbone’s case, and he and a Whirlpool rep spent a week of playing phone and email tag.
We got in touch with a Whirlpool spokesperson faster than Carbone reached the rep.
The company said it would send Carbone a refund of $133.75 to cover the cost of moving the dryer for the washer’s repair.
That was great news.
But we still wanted to know, in general, when Whirlpool would decide a machine was defective. How many repair attempts would it take?
“A machine is determined to be replaced by Whirlpool on a case-by-case-basis,” the spokeswoman said. “In Mr. Carbone’s case, Whirlpool confirmed with the service provider as of 5/14/2015, Mr. Carbone’s washer is repaired and working fine. We would not consider this a defective unit and replace it if it is working properly.”
Of course not. Getting the brand-new machine to work like a brand-new machine was the goal here.
We asked if the company would consider extending the warranty, but it wouldn’t answer the question.
“Our office has never been able to speak with Mr. Carbone directly to this date to discuss extending his warranty,” the rep said. “Mr. Carbone is welcome to contact me directly as instructed in the voice mails left for him to call me and discuss his concern if he wishes.”
Geez. He had been trying to do that for a more than a week, only to be stuck leaving voice mail messages and then sending emails, too.
But okay. We told Carbone to follow up with Whirlpool about the warranty.
After a few more attempts and more phone tag, Carbone said, he and the rep finally hooked up. The rep confirmed the refund, and also said the company would extend the warranty for a second year.
Carbone was happy to finally have a working washer, and for the refunded money and the extended warranty.
“Before your help, I was being sucked into a big, black hole of uncaring bureaucracy by a very large corporation.,” he said. “My goal was to hold Whirlpool accountable to their company’s stated ‘Purpose,’ not to waste their customer’s time, and their ‘Ethics,’ that anything done wrong is never right.”
Thanks to Whirlpool for satisfying this customer.
Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.