The Beach Haven vacation home they’ve owned for 45 years was damaged, but not nearly as bad as homes just a few blocks away.
One item that needed replacement was a clothing dryer, housed in a small enclosure — the Mackies call it a shed — that’s attached to the home.
“The shed was constructed 40 years ago and we’ve only had three dryers in all that time,” said Jim Mackie, 74.
The one the couple lost during Sandy was only a few months old.
Mackie said he returned to Dave’s TV and Appliance in Ship Bottom, a business Mackie has patronized for more than four decades, to purchase a new Whirlpool dryer.
The purchase, which included a four-year extended service warranty, was made on May 3 and cost $1,164.11.
“Ten days later we went to the house, did some wash, put it in the dryer and the dryer did not work. I called Dave’s, left a message and eventually went home,” he said, to his primary home in Long Valley.
Mackie said he called Dave’s for a status update, but the office said it never received the message. It promised to send a tech.
On May 30, Mackie said, Dave’s called to say the gas line wasn’t on, and that’s why the dryer didn’t work.
Mackie had a plumber turn on the gas on June 5.
On June 9, the Mackies again tried the dryer.
And again it didn’t work.
Mackie called Dave’s, and a tech came on June 13.
“They (said) the machine needed a new part which they would order,” Mackie said. “I asked how a new machine, never used, would require a new part. No answer.”
The part arrived, and a tech came back on June 22.
“I was next to him when he put it in and turned on the machine,” Mackie said. “I heard an odd noise followed by a non-vulgar expletive from the technician.”
The tech said there was a short circuit somewhere in the machine, and Mackie would need additional parts.
“I told him to take the machine out and have another machine delivered,” Mackie said. “He said that will not happen and that I would have to deal with the manufacturer. He also warned me not to tell Whirlpool the machine was ‘outside’ because it would void the warranty.”
FIX, NOT REPLACE
Mackie said he went to Dave’s the next day. The office said it wouldn’t replace the machine, but it would still fix it. But, Mackie said, they wanted to rescind the four-year extended warranty.
Unhappy, Mackie said he called Whirlpool, but the manufacturer said he’d have to deal with Dave’s.
The next week, Mackie said, Dave’s called to set up a parts installation. Mackie said he spoke to “Christine.”
“I explained the problem and Whirlpool’s position,” he said. “She said that was contrary to policy and that she would call her Whirlpool representative and call me back.”
A week later, Mackie returned to the office.
“Christine said she could not reach the rep and that Dave’s position was firm,” he said. “She suggested I call Whirlpool’s factory rep. Suggesting she had more clout than me, I asked her to call. She refused.”
Mackie went home and got on the phone with Whirlpool.
“A male representative told me he had the whole story on his computer,” he said. “He further told me Whirlpool’s warranty was void because the machine was not installed ‘inside’ a heated environment as per item one of items … of their warranty.”
Mackie didn’t get it. He’d had dryers in that shed for 40 years, and Dave’s — an authorized dealer and servicer of Whirlpool products — did the installation.
“I also asked why, considering where it was installed, Dave’s wrote a four-year extended warranty contract,” he said. “No answer.”
Plus, Mackie told the Whirlpool rep there are instructions on how to install the dryer in a garages. Few garages are heated, and the shed is no different, he argued.
At the end of June, Mackie disputed the purchase with Chase MasterCard.
Chase somehow missed the point. It denied the dispute, saying in a letter “you feel the merchant did not provide the services you purchased and the merchant promised to provide a credit for your account.”
But Mackie’s paperwork to Chase never said Dave’s promised a refund.
Mackie asked Chase to reconsider, explaining again that Dave’s did not “provide promised services.”
“A new, out-of-the-shipping-container machine that does not perform the function for which it was purchased hardly fits the characterization of promised services,” Mackie wrote to Chase.
But at the end of September, Chase again said no, and that’s when Mackie contacted Bamboozled.
FINDING MIDDLE GROUND
We reviewed Mackie’s detailed time line of events, plus the paperwork he had on the purchase.
We also looked at the Whirlpool warranty.
In the installation section, it said: “The dryer must not be installed or stored in an area where it will be exposed to water and/or weather.”
Indeed, it’s not. One could argue, perhaps, that exposure to heat or cold is “weather.”
And if Dave’s thought this installation location would void the manufacturer warranty, why wouldn’t it tell that to Mackie, and why would Dave’s sell Mackie a four-year extended warranty?
And finally, even if the location was suspect, this machine didn’t work from Day One. And there was certainly no extreme weather in May and June.
We reached out to Whirlpool, and while it investigated, we called Dave’s.
At Dave’s, “Christine” said Mackie refused to have the machine fixed. While her time line of events didn’t match Mackie’s, she said that, generally, manufacturers require three attempts at fixing a machine before it’s determined to be a dud.
“There are lemons out there, unfortunately,” she said. “Whirlpool doesn’t allow us to take back bad appliances. I tried to explain we don’t make them. We only sell them. We’re just the middle man.”
She said Dave’s ordered parts for the machine, but Mackie didn’t allow a fix, so Dave’s sent the parts back.
“As far as I’m concerned, they had four times. First, they didn’t test it when they installed it. Then they came and said it wasn’t getting gas. Third, they said we needed a part, and, fourth, they said we needed another three parts,” Mackie said. “A brand new machine that needs four new parts? Get it out of here.”
Then we heard from Whirlpool, which said the location does void the warranty. Page 6 of the installation guide for the dryer states: “IMPORTANT: Do not operate, install, or store dryer where it will be exposed to water, weather, or at temperatures below 45° F (7° C). Lower temperatures may cause dryer not to shut off at end of automatic sensor cycles, resulting in longer drying times.”
Even if the warranty was voided, how does an off-the-truck and out-of-the-box machine need new parts?
“It certainly is unfortunate when any appliance needs a repair,” a spokesman said. “Whirlpool puts every appliance through rigorous quality control test to try to ensure trouble free performance; however, I am sure you can understand that any electrical or mechanical part can fail and it is impossible to predict when that will happen.”
Despite the warranty issue, Whirlpool said it would fix this dryer with any parts that were needed, regardless of the warranty issue.
Mackie is making repair arrangements with Whirlpool, and he’s looking into moving the machine into the home proper.
“It still sticks in my craw. We’ve used that area for 40 years without an issue,” he said.
And he’s still perplexed about the need for fixes in the first place.
“I can maybe understand one part. Two parts is a stretch. But four parts? That’s unacceptable,” he said. “What astonishes me is that Whirlpool doesn’t perceive themselves in an embarrassing situation with four parts being required for a brand-new machine.”
Mackie promises to let us know how the repairs go, and we’ll keep you posted.