Help, Whirpool Replaced My Leaky Washer With A Brand New Leaky Washer!

Ken writes: “In February of 2007, we purchased a Whirlpool Duet Sport Washer, model XWWFW8410SW. The washer worked very well, and we noticed a savings in our water and electric bill. A few months later, we noticed it was leaking water. Fortunately, the washer is in the garage. We called our local appliance dealer, and they sent out a service technician. He “fixed” the leak. A couple of days later, it began leaking again. And it was fixed again. The door was replaced. The lock was replaced. The ring was replaced. Everything was caulked, adjusted, tweaked, etc. Again it leaked.”

It took 8 visits before he finally gave up. The washer leaked somewhat on the various cycles, heavy duty, normal, and quick, but leaked severely on the clean washer cycle. He had made numerous calls to Whirlpool tech support and finally told us there was nothing more he could do, and our next option was for us to contact Whirlpool.

In December 2007, we called Whirlpool. They were very apologetic, and after doing some research, they determined that the washer needed to be replaced. They asked us to be patient, and told us that the new washer would be shipped to the appliance dealer and be delivered to us in February. The new washer was delivered on January 29.

We were thrilled that our leaks were behind us with a new washer. We decided to run the clean cycle, figuring that we may as well start with a clean washer.

I am not writing this letter to tell you what a great washer Whirlpool manufactures. I am writing to tell you that this BRAND NEW WHIRLPOOL WASHER is leaking!!!

I called the appliance dealer this morning to express my disgust. I spoke to the tech who told me that there is a new “fix”, and that he would be out in a couple of days after he receives the parts. Fine.

I am going to call Whirlpool yet again to advise them that there are problems with this washer.

I will advise you as this saga continues. Consumerist, my patience is wearing thin, as is my optimism. Would you alert the world of this issue?

Both the dealer and Whirlpool are attentively working to plug the leak, but Ken has no reason to believe that a ninth fix will help make his clothes bright and clean. Wise Consumerists, how would you counsel poor Ken? Assuming the unit still leaks after the ninth visit, should he ask for a third replacement, maybe a new model altogether? Let the comments overflow with your bubbly wisdom.

Comments

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  1. G0lluM says:

    I would think that if the “new fix” doesn’t work and a second washer is required to be provided by Whirlpool, the request for a different model of equal or greater retail value would be appropriate.

  2. Buran says:

    @G0lluM: I agree. My first thought was ‘design flaw’. Get a different model entirely and forget this one. If it’s brand new it should still be under the return period, right?

  3. barfoo says:

    How about figuring out where the leak is actually coming from? It sounds like the repair people randomly replaced parts in hopes of fixing it, but that didn’t work, and they don’t even know where the problem is. I’ve had plumbers replace all kinds of stuff in my apartment and not fix leaks because they just assumed they knew where the problem was. Maybe a little more investigation would help. Where is it leaking? What is leaking (clean incoming water, or soapy/dirty water from the wash cycle)? These things kind of matter.

  4. MustyBuckets says:

    If the ninth fix doesn’t work, I’d suggest asking them for a new model that isn’t a duet sport – if it is on a solid flooring (sounds like it is, in a garage), a maytag epic, which models include MFW9700SQ or MFW9800TQ (both in white), both of those models have the same basic features, with the 9800 having a oxi/prewash option. (These are 4.0 cap, as opposed to the Sport’s 3.4).

    Or you could go with a HE top load, which function the same as a front load in terms of water and soap usage, and both of which are excellent machines – the WTW6400S and the WTW6600S, both of which are a 4.5 cu ft capacity (very large – largest on the market) and the difference between the two is that the 6600 has a see through lid, and comes in two other colors aside from white (Gold/Bisque and Black).

    If you will go the route of getting a new machine, please be aware that you should check out the specs and if possible, see them in person before you make a final decision, having it right in front of you is the best way to choose.

    Also, please go easy on the appliance place, even the big guys don’t have a ton of power against Whirlpool, and the best way to get something done is to contact Whirlpool yourself.

    Good Luck!

  5. legerdemain says:

    Question:

    What does sport even mean now? How is this washer sporty? Is it sportier than another washer?

  6. MustyBuckets says:

    @MustyBuckets: Or, you could ask for a refund and look at a GE Frontload (Such as the WBVH6240FWW) which is an excellent machine, unlike their top loaders, or worse yet microwaves (their refrigerators and cooking products are still great!)

  7. MustyBuckets says:

    @legerdemain: Sport is code for small.

  8. ConsumerRights says:

    I would ask for a brand new model. I would also Google the model number and search other blogs to see if anyone else has had problems with the model in question.

  9. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @Buran: I concur. Ask for a different model. If they refuse, ask for a refund. if they refuse, chargeback.

  10. chrisfromnl says:

    Get a topload washer, no leaks.

  11. maztec says:

    - this does have advice on how to deal with Whirlpool towards the end, but starts with commiseration -

    Whirlpool is the largest home appliance corporation in the world. In short, they do not care about you. Products from many of their brands – brands that used to be known for their dependability and quality – are prone to problems.

    Last year my mother went through a similar problem with Whirlpool. Her problem was with a a JennAir slide-in gas range and oven. The oven took over 45 minutes to heat up. The gas range had knobs that supposedly supported an “infinite range of adjustment” for flame height/temperature – except they had one setting, “HIGH!” that worked and all adjustment of the knobs resulted in HIGH! aka burnt food and a fire danger. She fought with Whirlpool and the local dealer from December of 2006 to July of 2007 before I stepped in and said enough was enough. By September they had agreed to a full refund. In October the refund arrived and they took back the appliances. In November . . . she purchased another JennAir from a different local dealer – for the same price – and it works like a dream. She wanted the downdraft and JennAir was the only provider for that – considering her kitchen, in her new house, was designed around a downdraft by that point.

    So, how did we do it? We took the following steps:
    1) Do your research. Has anyone else complained about this particular model leaking? We did ours and found that her range/oven model was known for not heating up – but nobody had claimed about the range being unadjustable [albeit, the company later said this was a “feature” – do not accept that from them].
    *) From this point on, every time you communicate with Whirlpool, stress the point that this is a hazard to your house – it can and will cause water damage to it and they do not want to be responsible for that damage [it is your duty to stop using the appliance if you know it will cause water damage unless you have no other options, keep that in mind.]. Also stress that this is a health hazard as it is very likely to cause a slip and fall [if you have children, point out that if htey run in front of it, oops!] If you can think of other reasonable hazards [bugs/disease/mold wet garage/etc] mention them or include them but . . DO NOT sound like a Hypochondriac!
    2) Write the local dealer a certified letter with return receipt, demand a full refund or a replacement with an equivalent or better model that does not leak. Detail all of your findings. Indicate that you will escalate your requests if no action is taken and finalized within two weeks from the date they receive your letter.
    3) Let the two weeks pass. Complain to Whirlpool on the phone, talk to their techs, badger the local company, keep a record of EVERYTHING you do – all calls, all steps to fix it, everything. Make a record from memory of everything that has happened so far if you did not write it down.
    4) After the two weeks, write a letter to the local dealer and to Whirlpool –
    Whirlpool, Office of the President
    2000 M63
    Benton Harbor, MI 49022
    and note you are CC’ng a copy to all of the executive email addresses [listed below].
    If you know the address for your products “Customer eXperience Center” include it in your mailing. Be polite in your letter. Detail your problems from beginning to end. Detail what you have done to attempt to fix it. Detail what you expect them to do [replace, refund, upgrade]. Tell them you expect it to be done within a set time – 2 weeks to 30 days, your choice. Inform them that if it is not taken care of in that time you will send them a second letter and it will be CC’d to your state Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau.
    Send all copies of this letter certified mail with return receipt. Keep track of all costs incurred. Next time you call them inform them that this has occurred. Also, make a call to their executive office phone number and leave a message – I cannot find this number at the moment, otherwise I would provide it. I believe it is listed on Consumerist somewhere and you can readily get it off of their financial reports.
    5) At the same time launch an Executive Email Carpet Bomb indicating you have sent the above letter. We titled the message, accurately, as being “Evasive Customer Service on Defective [product name], Model #: [Model Number]”. Reformat the letter so it reads well via email. Some of the following addresses are not good, others are good, these are the addresses my research turned up as having existed at one time at Whirlpool that belong to executives or people that may be able to do something. Some still go through despite a bounce message. Here they are:
    Jeff.Fetting@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Michael.Todman@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Roy.Templin@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Timothy.Yaggi@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Herman.Cain@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Gary.DiCamillo@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Kathleen.Hempel@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Michael.Johnston@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    William.Kerr@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Arnold.Langbo@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Miles.Marsh@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Paul.Stern@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Janice.Stoney@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    Michael.White@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    jackie_g_seib@whirlpool.com,
    jackie_g_seib@whirlpoolcorp.com,
    whirlpool_customerexperience@whirlpool.com
    Search around to see if you can find any other whirlpool addresses. We know for a fact that at least one of them go through because we received a call from the executive offices indicating that we were getting a refund and to please stop emailing them :p.
    *) We did not take the following steps, but here is how we had planned on going forward. For other times when I have had to deal with defective products the following steps have worked if needed. However, I find it best to use the above steps first. . . .
    6) Wait the time limit you gave them. If they have not responded or have requested more time – give it to them. Companies can be slow, but efficient in the end. Every time you talk to them remind that if you do not have a status update and have not received any suitable solution within 14 days, you will get results.
    7) If you still have no results. Write all of the addresses above again. Notify them that if you do not have a suitable response within 30 days you will be filing an action in small claims court. Be serious about this – if you will not seriously take them to small claims court then do not make the threat. Your alternative here is to send it to the AG and BBB and keep making threatening noises. The threat of small claims court at this point can be useful, but if you are not prepared to follow through it can and will bite you. With this letter – CC your Attorney General and CC the Better Business Bureau:
    The Council of Better Business Bureaus
    4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 800
    Arlington, Virginia 22203-1838
    Because you are dealing with the AG and BBB at this point – it is best to give them 30 days to respond. Issue a second salvo on the executive email carpet bomb – try to find more addresses to hit.
    8) Wait your 30 days. If nothing happens file your small claims action. Detail all of the steps you have taken. Mention that the leaking water can and will cause damage to your floor, that it is a serious health hazard – slip and fall – and that all you want is a working washer that does not leak! Generally you will win at this point without any real action. If you are concerned, consult a local attorney about how to proceed with this action.

    And there you go. Best of luck!

  12. maztec says:

    Oh and of course . . all else fails you can attempt to chargeback. If you purchased it on a credit card. But at a year out since you purchased it, most companies probably would not let you do that . . . and honestly, chargeback is rife with legal ramifications if you do not immediately stop using the item, attempt to return it, and have not forewarned them you will chargeback if they do not cure the problem [you can always bring up that it is a defective product and is violating both your express and implied warranty’s that it would not leak.]

  13. bohemian says:

    There needs to be a central source for known issues on appliance models. There are certain ones that seem to have these design flaws and many people end up in the infinite loop of useless repairs, replacements that never solve the issue.

    Someone was giving away one of these newer front loaders on Freecycle last summer. They said the computer board had fried and would need to be replaced. I googled the brand and model and found out that it was a known flaw and replacing the board would only last so long before the design flaw fried the new one. So we didn’t bother trying to get the thing.

    Were looking at buying some new appliances but there are so many stories like this and the cost of even one is so much we have been putting it off.

    When we were in Lowes last weekend I noticed they had drastically expanded their washer dryer line up and most of them were these sports car looking front loader sets that were painted all sorts of gloss red, green pearl with extra chrome all over them. For fark sake is is a washing machine.

  14. bohemian says:

    There seems to be no shortage of nightmare new appliance stories from every brand.
    I am really starting to think about just buying some used ones from our appliance repair guy. Because if they are total crap they won’t refurb and sell them because they don’t want the headache or to have to keep fixing them for free (they give a year warranty). That and if it does end up being a pile of suck were out about half or less the money.

    Is there any appliance company anymore that does have a good track record?

  15. SuperJdynamite says:

    This sounds like it would be covered by Lemon Laws.

  16. maztec says:

    SuperJDynamite: Keep in mind that many states restrict their lemon laws to vehicles only. However, the federal lemon laws do cover most mechanical devices. Even if it is a lemon, unless you can get a class together, you may as well just make a small claim action.
    It is disappointing to think that my Grandmother’s 40 year old washer & dryer still works and has only been repaired three times… while most new ones last maybe ten years and often need repaired yearly and you ahve to take “special care” to keep it running.

  17. 1964F100 says:

    @MustyBuckets: The problem with the Maytag is that it is now just a platform-shared Whirlpool, now that Whirlpool owns the Maytag brand. It’s not to say that Neptune line from when Maytag was still independent was any better than the “Whirltags” of today.

  18. consumerd says:

    Agreed with everyone else here…. If this repair doesn’t fix the problem, a new different model washer either higher or lower in grade should be on order.

  19. consumerd says:

    And just for note, so far I have not had any problems with the following washers and dryers.

    any of them made by GE, or Hotpoint.

    I think GE owns the Hotpoint Brand now-a-days. They are a cheaper brand but so far I don’t have any complaints with mine.

  20. 1964F100 says:

    @david_consumerist: Hotpoint has been a subsidiary of GE since at least the 1930s. Hotpoint appliances were engineered separately from the GE line until the early 1970s, when GE and Hotpoint appliances began sharing the same platform.

    (Incidentally, Hotpoint is also a well-known brand in the UK with a rich history, but is unrelated to GE or Hotpoint this side of the pond.)

  21. discounteggroll says:

    @bohemian:
    my washer’s got a tachometer and the dryer’s got a spinner. holla!

  22. discounteggroll says:

    FYI-costco still has lifetime returns on products like this which could definitely benefit a lot of people

  23. stallionz says:

    How much water is leaking exactly. If there’s not a lot, perhaps the reason for the water is simply condensation. If the condensation is due to steam, turn down the temperature on your water heater or use warm instead of hot water. If it is due to condensation from the atmosphere, the problem might just go away by itself when the weather changes.
    You could also try running an empty cycle with food coloring in the mix to see if it is leaking pre or post wash. Just remeber to let it go through the rinse cycle to wash the coloring out before you but clothes back into it.

  24. Buran says:

    @MustyBuckets: I have a VW GTI and while “sport” or “sporty” isn’t in the model name, in the car world it usually means the car either looks, or actually is, fast. Fortunately, for VW’s latest GTIs, the answer is “both”. But seriously… I agree, what the heck led marketers to assume “sporty” means “small”?

  25. maztec says:

    Stallionz, great advice!

    @Carbon-Arcs: I am pretty sure that Hotpoint started as a UK company and partnered up with GE to start the US business and market GE products in the UK. I am pretty sure they are still partners with GE being the controlling partner… Could verify that of course.

  26. amelie317 says:

    @Buran: “Sport weight” yarn is pretty small. It’s been called “sport” in that context for a long freaking time, too.

  27. MustyBuckets says:

    @Carbon-Arcs: Correct, as with Amana, which was owned by whirlpool, but the Maytag Epic is not based on the Whirlpool Duet Sport, which is where the leaking issue is.

  28. MustyBuckets says:

    @maztec: GE and Hotpoint, at least in the states, have identical appliances with different name plates on it, although there are a handful of models that are hotpoint exclusive, the majority is available through GE. The truly odd thing is that the cost to the stores for these identical units often differ by 10 or 20 dollars.

  29. lockdog says:

    For at least the past ten years or so my advice to people purchasing new appliances is to avoid anything that is a new model or considered top of the line. What you want is the type of appliance you would buy if you were a builder outfitting a few hundred new condos or apartments. Look for a good balance on energy efficiency and price. Ignore the very cheapest models, the Roper’s and Hotpoint, and look at the low end of the name brands. What you’ll end up with is a rock solid unit. It will be reasonably efficient, moderately priced, but few bells and whistles. It will used tried and true technology the manufacturer is used to and be built on a line that has all the kinks worked out. the next best way to judge an appliance is to kick it, or if the sales people won’t let you do that, at least try to tip from side to side (never front to back). The heavier, the better. Steel is expensive and good. Nylon is cheap and bad. Guess which is heavier. That being said, check out your used appliance places in town, Goodwill, ReStore or whatever. Expect to pay $150-$200 dollars for an appliance less than five years old, and ask for a 30 day money back warranty. If a clean looking four year old washer hasn’t failed yet, and nothing breaks when you move it, chances are good that it will give at least four more years of service, maybe much more.

  30. Leiterfluid says:

    You’re using too much soap. My wife does the same thing. Her laundry loads always seem to leak, and I’ve never had a problem with mine.

  31. nrwfos says:

    I just checked on

    [www.consumeraffairs.com]

    and there are quite a number of people saying the same thing. We had to replace my washer recently, and though tempted by the promise of these front loading washers…I went cheap and bought a top-loader. I can’t afford to have water leaking since the laundry is up on the second floor. Leaks would be disastrous to the ceiling on the first floor even though we have a pan that the washer sits in and it has an overflow hose to the drain. That might be what you want to do. Also the mold issue these machines have isn’t very appealing.

  32. traviswalden says:

    Let me qualify my position by saying that I have worked at an Whirlpool appliance dealer for the last 4 years. My first impression was what LEITERFLUID said, too much soap, or wrong type of soap. Front load washers cannot handle suds very well. Suds are caused by sudsing agents ADDED to your detergent so you can “see” that it is working. They do nothing for the actualy cleaning of clothes. The new “HE” detergents that are “made for” front loaders just have the sudsing agents removed. Honestly, I am not sure how the suds do it, but all front loaders can leak when an oversuds situation occurs.

    Whirlpool has always been good at helping out our customers even AFTER their warranties have run out. Just the other day, Whirlpool replaced $500 worth of parts on a 4 year old washer. We had another person get their Side by Side refrigerator replaced out of warranty just last month.

    If it happens to be that the washers are faulty ( we as servicers would have received service bullitens if it were a “common” problem ) then I would recommend the full size Whirlpool DUETs. The Maytag Epics are overpriced COPIES of the full size DUETs. Whirlpool bought Maytag over a year ago and has been changing over all of Maytag’s appliances to Whirlpool designed ones. This is a good thing, because the Maytag appliances (especially laundry) have been junk for almost 10years now. GE’s front load laundry is made by LG, Samsung, and Frigidaire. Kenmore appliances are more expensive versions of Whirlpool, Frigidaire, LG, and Samsung products.

    Finally, concerning the new top load “high efficiency” washers. Whirlpool has dried this before with the “Calypso”. (Google it!) I would give it a couple years and see if they are still making it. Even then, we have been getting complaints about poor washing and tangling clothes.

  33. traviswalden says:

    NRWFOS replied while I was typing mine, but most front loaders do NOT have mold issues. The Maytag Neptune front loaders did have a major issue with this. Also, the manuals usually recommend either wiping off any excess moisture from the boot, or leaving the door open for a couple hours after washing clothes. The washers that had the worst issues are the ones with a pronounced angle to the drum ( aka Maytag Neptunes)

  34. Mike_ says:

    We just had to replace a 2-year-old Whirlpool water heater for the problems described here. It died on a Thursday night. I had them overnight a repair kit, which meant we’d get it on Tuesday and schedule the plumber for Wednesday. So we had to choose between almost a week without hot water followed by the very real possibility that the problem would not be solved, or buying a new water heater. We bit the bullet and chose the latter.

    The rest of our appliances are pre-merger Maytag and Amana. I’ll think twice before buying another Whirlpool.

  35. chilled says:

    I’ve had great luck with whirlpool for many years on top loaders,but i think most brands of frontload machines are having problems.Time will tell..

  36. MustyBuckets says:

    @traviswalden: The mold issue on the Maytag Neptunes was resolved by the last version of it, and the versions they used for the Amana Front load before it turned into the glass door one.

    Also, if she is going to get a replacement for free, it doesn’t matter that the Maytag Epics cost more than the Whirlpool Duets being the same machine, and also, at least in my area, the duets are no longer available.

  37. Tank says:

    @legerdemain: it’s faster, and has a stripe

  38. FLConsumer says:

    I was going to also suggest that the original poster check how much soap they’re using. If you can see suds/foam more than 1/4 to 1/2 way up the glass window, you’re using too much or the wrong type of soap. I’m not saying her washer doesn’t have a legitimate issue, but all of the American brand front-load machines out there will leak if you’re using too much / the wrong soap in them.

    For my little European washer, I find that I have to use about 2 tbsp of powdered detergent or it’ll foam over. This works out to be about ~1/3rd as much detergent as the Tide HE scoop recommends. Doesn’t surprise me, Tide makes more money with the more of their product I dump in the machine. Similarly, with the Cheer HE liquid detergent, I have to use 1/2 of what they recommend for a “medium load” otherwise it’ll foam over like a fountain after a frat boy’s dumped a few bottles of bubblebath in it.

  39. ColoradoShark says:

    @barfoo: I would do that because I like knowing how things work. In general, this is unreasonable.

    I bought something, it is malfunctioning and it should be fixed. The consumer should not need to be a diagnostician.

  40. nrwfos says:

    @FLConsumer: That’s true about all washers IMHO. I’ve always used less than recommended by Tide (or whomever). Saves $$ and makes no difference in the final results. Still clean. Don’t use that much detergent.

  41. RottNDude says:

    I’m going to again mention that you MUST use HE detergent in a front loading washer, and only as much as is prescribed by the manufacturer. Too many suds can and will flood your laundry room and wear out the drum bearings.

  42. RvLeshrac says:

    @barfoo:

    No, no, no. That takes work. You’d have to be competent, or at least intelligent, to do that.

    I don’t think I’ve ever met a competent OR intelligent plumber. Most of the people I see aren’t competent or intelligent, for that matter.

    I’ve had painters come to my apartment to paint water spots on the ceiling from leaks above (I don’t care much about the leaks, really, since I have insurance and the apartment management knows about them, so I’m CYA’d), and skip areas because they “weren’t told to paint them,” forcing me to call about the problem the next day, upon which the same group of painters will come out to paint the spot they missed.

    Why? Who the hell knows. Seems like they’d be more interested in using that 20 minutes to take a break, since the complex doesn’t pay them for rework.

  43. coren says:

    Before he asks for a third replacement, he should probably get a second one.

  44. friendlynerd says:

    I think it’s rather condescending to suggest someone has spent months fighting with Whirlpool because they use the wrong kind of soap. A leak is a leak. My mother has a full size Duet and uses whatever soap is on sale. She’s never had a leak or any other problems for that matter. Just use a bit less and it will be fine – has been for 4 years.

    As far as the suggestion to use a top load HE model, those do have a tendency to be rough on clothes. And despite the HE branding, they use a ton of water – see Consumer Reports articles about washers.

  45. JayXJ says:

    @chrisfromnl: Wanna bet?:) Our top loader (about 3 years old) has started overfilling. I’ve jerry-rigged it to not overflow and we’ll replace it next month–parts are more than a cheap 3 year old washer is worth.