Does GE Owe Her For The Icemaker?

Reader Cinnamon has specifically requested Consumerist reader opinions on whether GE should pay her back for the icemaker that broke twice in her refrigerator.

Basically she paid to have the icemaker repaired twice, then GE expanded a recall to include her refrigerator. GE gave her a discount on another repair trip, but now she thinks they were stingy.

Cinnamon writes:

I purchased a GE refrigerator in April 2005. May 2006 (one month out of warranty) the icemaker began freezing up and would not make ice. I called GE repair and they sent someone out to fix it at a cost of $186.00. June 2007 the same problem happens again. I call GE, they send the repairman, same one as last year. Once again he fixes it but tells me the part he replaced both times technically should never fail. In his many years on the job he’s never seen it happen. He said that if it happened again I should contact GE because there is some reason it keeps failing and is not the fault of the owner (me). July 2008 it fails again. GE said they would send the repairman out but that I would have to pay the cost. They would not agree to cover any portion of it. I decided to forgo the repair as I didn’t see the need to pay $186.00 per year just to have ice. We could live without it.

Fast forward to October 2010. The entire refrigerator fails. Nothing works but the light bulbs. I search online and find out the problem….the board that runs virtually everything (except the light bulbs) has failed. I noticed that GE had recalled the same model I have due to the board failing but it had to manufactured after May 2005, obviously mine wasn’t. I called around and found the part at a cost of $169.00 plus tax and was going to try to replace it myself. In the meantime I decided to call GE to make a complaint regarding the product. I found it absurd that I would spend over $500 to repair an $800-$900 refrigerator that is just over 5 yrs old. The CSR informed me that my fridge now fit the recall because GE had recently expanded it. She would send someone to fix it, waive the $79.99 trip charge, the part cost, and 50% of the labor cost as a courtesy because they did not notify me of the recall. I didn’t think I should have to pay anything as it was under recall but figured the 50% labor charge would be cheaper than buying the $169 part myself.

The repairman came last week and replaced the board. Guess what suddenly started working again once he did that? That’s right, the icemaker. My thought is that the icemaker was failing due to the recalled part and GE should reimburse me for the $360 I paid to repair it twice before the recall.

I wanted to get your readers opinions on this.

What do you think? Should she go back to the well?

Comments

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  1. c!tizen says:

    She sounds spicy! (sorry, had to do it.)

    I would definitely pursue that one, but you may have a hard time proving that the part that was previously replaced wasn’t defective itself. I’d try the EECB and cross your fingers.

  2. dulcinea47 says:

    No, unless there’s evidence that the problem with the icemaker was caused by the same thing that caused the recall. Which it doesn’t sound like there is.

    • Dover says:

      It does sound like it, as the ‘broken’ ice maker started working again when the board was replaced. GE should absolutely reimburse her for all of her repair expenses on a recalled product since the failing part was recalled and their repair guy replaced a part that turned out not to be the problem (though it is curious that it worked for a year each time).

      • stock2mal says:

        Replacing the “broken” icemaker the first time, without doing anything to the board, fixed the problem. As a result, it looks like the problem is with the icemaker.

        I think GE should give her an entirely new refrigerator to be quite honest with you, that’s what you do if you value your customers.

        • JennQPublic says:

          Maybe the faulty board was frying the icemaker. The unit failed consistently in the summer months, when the fridge would have been working harder and they would have been using more ice.

          She should take them to small claims court, and bring a repairman as an expert witness. Take GE to Judge Judy if she can, I would love to see this on there.

  3. SweetJustice says:

    We got a GE fridge too and the board has failed several times. It’s such an unreliable piece of crap that we’re about to cut our losses and replace it.

  4. Dover says:

    I can’t believe they charged her half the labor to repair a recall.

    • Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

      Yeah, tell them to “just replace the failed parts and I’ll put the thing back together myself, saving the other 50%”

      I’m about to replace some kitchen appliances (GE) hmmmmm, now I don’t think I need to deal with this kind of BS so I’m open to other brands now.

  5. SkokieGuy says:

    I think the key piece of info is what are the terms of the recall?

    It was expanded to cover her fridge, but does the recall state it will cover prior (related) repairs? If so, then she has a legitimate beef.

    Since the recall seems voluntary by the manufacturer and is for fridges well past their warranty period, maybe the recall is offering everyone the same deal Cinnamon got.

    Curiously, the GE website does not list any refrigerators as being recalled:
    http://www.geappliances.com/products/recall/

  6. SkokieGuy says:

    More info – I’ve changed my mind.

    For other GE products under a voluntary recall, free repairs are provided. For a clothes washer:

    This voluntary recall is due to the potential for shock and fire, caused by the possible contact of a broken wire with a metal component of the washtub during operation of the machine. GE will provide a free repair to all consumers with units affected by the recall. Consumers should unplug the washer from its electrical outlet and not operate their washer until the unit is repaired.

    Now this appliance represents a safety hazard, not merely a malfunction, but since the fridge became non-usable, pony up GE.

  7. HannahK says:

    I would let it go at this point. Logically, it sounds like the recalled board could have been the original source of the icemaker failures, so if they are willing to fix the board out of warranty that should extend to the icemaker part as well. But I think that getting those fees refunded after 3-4 years have gone by, when there’s no real proof, is very unlikely. She was willing to pay the $360 at the time for the repairs, and the ice maker did start working again after both repairs, so I would chalk this one up to bad luck and move on.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I wouldn’t let this go at all – there’s no reason any part of a $800 appliance should fail after just one year, and keep failing after it was “fixed.”

    • wootbot says:

      I agree. She’s being more than reasonable. GE should at least meet her half-way on this.

  8. DH405 says:

    I’m amazed at the regularity of the icemaker failing. Each time, it was exactly 13 months. I’ve never had a failure that you could set a watch by quite like that.

  9. kt says:

    Because you did not have any repairs done in 2008, you have no proof that it has not been working the whole time so you will have a very difficult time proving it was caused by the faulty board.

  10. The cake is a lie! says:

    Unless you can get a repair man to get the ice maker working again despite the broken board, then you are out of luck. A certified GE repairman said it was xyz part’s fault and when it was replaced, the machine started working again. The two aren’t related unless you can replace that part again with a fried board, or reinstall the broken parts with the fixed board, and prove it that way.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      So you’re saying have a GE tech come, put back in the faulty board, then try to fix the ice maker? I mean, yes, that might completely prove her theory, but I think this is one of those times that really does call for an EECB, and I’m usually against those except when all other avenues of recourse have failed.

  11. MercuryPDX says:

    I say go for it… with the caveat that they will probably say no but at least you tried.

  12. Alvis says:

    “the icemaker began freezing up and would not make ice”

    So… it’s freezing, BUT not making ice? Color me confused.

  13. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    Given that is what warranties are for and they are limited in scope and duration I think the OP should just be happy to save some money on the final repair and be glad everything works.

    • c!tizen says:

      Yeah, but there’s a big difference between a warranty repair and a recall. All of the failures were “warranty/out-of-warranty repairs” before they hit a certain number, then it became a recall.

  14. Blackadar says:

    Typical GE…anyone who buys a GE appliance is just asking for trouble. They failed to honor the warranty on my washer, my parent’s fridge, etc. They’re simply a horrible company. Do yourself a favor and buy a different manufacturer’s machine and save yourself money and hassle.

    • tbax929 says:

      This posting, pretty much word for word, can be found on almost every single freaking Consumerist article. It’s not helpful.

      If you want to call a brand out for being crappy, at least suggest another brand that’s not crappy.

      Bottom line – every single brand has its fans and detractors. Add something to the conversation or don’t bother commenting.

      • Jim Fletcher says:

        At least it wasn’t “I don’t understand why people even BUY refrigerators anymore. I build my own at home!”

  15. LOUWEEZY says:

    I would call & e-mail their Customer Relations folks & politely raise a stink. I have had 2 have 3 Svc. calls on 3 different GE appliances. I think their quality control is less than it used to be.

  16. gamabunta says:

    It’s not just the general public that GE will attempt to screw over. My friend told me when he was stationed on a submarine that they were having problems with a turbine onboard. Since it was manufactured by GE they tried to get their engineers out there to repair it. GE denied ever making such a model. It took an admiral and one of the heads of GE actually going to the sub and seeing the giant GE logo on the side of the turbine before they decided to attempt a repair.

  17. Mom says:

    I dunno. At this point the fridge is 5 years old, and the last repair was done 3 years ago. I might try to get reimbursed, but accept that it probably isn’t going to happen.

    I would have been on them like a bulldog when it originally failed a month out of warranty, though. I have gotten manufacturers to extend their warranties in situations like that.

  18. topgun says:

    Wow. I have nothing against GE as the GE washer I own has works great. However I can truly understand the OP’s frustration. I feel they paid for repairs, and by bad luck of the calander everything broke just out of warranty. This stuff happens. I KNOW.
    I don’t think they will ever get anywhere by talking to a CSR. They have limitations.
    By following the suggestions on The Consumerist I did an EECB and the results were favorable. Happened to be with DirecTV. I so totally won on that and have a new respect for DirecTV because of it. Hopefully the OP will try the same and have good results.

  19. dijo10 says:

    I probably had the same refrigerator. We bought ours (GE) in August 2005. Icemaker went out a year later. Tried to repair it, but it was over my knowledge/ability level. Quoted $225 for repairs, which we declined. Made ice the old fashioned way – we used trays.

    Fast forward to last month. Top of both freezer and refrigerator, all of a sudden, were both warm and the bottom were cold. Mind you – this is a side by side.

    Being fed up with this piece o’ crap, we elected to go purchase a nice new Samsung. We had the friendly delivery man from Lowe’s haul the POS away. We are very happy with our purchase.

  20. econobiker says:

    Receipts, receipts, receipts.

    Show that she paid twice for the repair and document that she talked to GE per “July 2008 it fails again. GE said they would send the repairman out but that I would have to pay the cost.” and ask for 1/2 back.

  21. Hoss says:

    There’s basically two home fixes, as I’ve discovered:

    (1) Buy a freezer thermometer to ensure sure that the freezer is always 0 degrees (not lower). On odd occasions such as when you over pack the freezer, it will still freeze, Leave the door open for a couple minutes or use a hairdryer to relieve the icing

    (2) If you’re handy, buy some duct insulation. Pry open the ice maker and install toward the back of the box. I don’t know why GE doesn’t do this!

  22. Robert Nagel says:

    Sounds about right to me. Don’t hold your breath.

  23. SG-Cleve says:

    What is the customary procedure when your car has a recall and you’ve already paid to fix the problem yourself?

    Does the auto company reimburse you?

    it might be hard to find real-life examples, I think most of the repairs are covered under the warranty anyway.

    • gman863 says:

      I actually did get reimbursed by Honda on a recall issue.

      Many years ago I owned a 1994 Accord that suddenly started spewing motor oil when I started up the car. Luckily, there was a mechanic across the street. He knew exactly what the issue was, having seen it many times before. By the time I got off work, the car was fixed at a cost of almost $500.

      A month later I got a recall notice from Honda about this specific part. I called Honda’s “800” number and explained I had already spent $500 to have the issue fixed. They were polite and gave me an address to send a copy of the repair invoice to.

      Three weeks later I had a check for the full amount; no EECB or whining required. Amazing.

  24. Dryfus Ranon says:

    All my kitchen appliances are from that time and are GE Profile. I didnt trust the builder and have had a homebuyer warranty since day 1. Just last month I renewed except I elected to pay extra for unlimited $ for all appliances. I have made out every year with that warranty. Just wonder if I willl need to pay the $50 trade fee. My furnace, water heater, sump pump, electrical, and numerous other items have needed repair over the past 6 years. I’m feeling good now but I never trusted the shitty builder, Ivanhoe-huntley. To me this was a feel good article. Sorry about those that didnt get that warranty. BTW I file the claims online. Thanks Consumerist.

  25. gman863 says:

    If possible, go back to the retailer you purchased the ‘frig from in 2005. Ask for the name of GE’s major appliance rep. for your area. Document the issue in writing (with copies of all the repair bills). If the rep seems uninterested, e-mail him/her a link to this thread and any other areas you have posted this issue.

    I used to work as a sales manager in a now-defunct major retailer’s appliance department. Although not a guarantee, I’ve seen the reps pull off either exchanges or a huge (50%+) discount on a replacement with the manufacturer eating the cost.

  26. LONGSAIL says:

    Icemakers are notorious for problems. They are right behind in-the-door chilled water and ice dispensers which statistically fail within 3 years. I make my own ice using trays and avoid the problem. If it is the unit which fails, the replacement is fairly simple, although the cost can be relatively high. The units can be found on eBay.

  27. debjwhe says:

    I, the apparent idiot, purchased an entire GE Profile stainless kitchen a little over a year ago. Microwave worked 2, count ‘em, 2 days, dishwasher doesn’t wash worth a flip, ice maker on $2300.00 refrigerator has a mind of its own, and GE doesn’t give a darn. I wrote the CEO, Jeff Immelt, got a response from his representative, in essence, they don’t care. Asked me if I wanted to purchase extended warranties. I told them why would I PAY for their kind of service. Their customer service reps are rude, rude, and rude.Then they send anyone who claims to work on appliances to do service. Good luck with getting them to pay. I just advise everyone to NOT buy GE.

  28. jaredwilliams says:

    yeah sounds like GE owes you. Where’d you buy it from. If you bought it from somewhere that cares about customer service this would have already been taken care of. GE is very easy to persuade from a dealers end.

    If you bought it from my company it wouldn’t have gone this far. Unfortunately all Ice makers are horrible, no matter what that’s the first thing that breaks.

    • John from Huntersville says:

      We have a GE side by side refrigerator/freezer with a through the door ice/water dispenser that is several years old. A couple years ago, the ice dispenser stopped working. The next day, we realized the freezer had also stopped cooling, and everything was defrosting. We called GE service (the refrigerator was out of warranty).

      It seems that the circuit board that drives the motor for the ice dispenser had some sort of underpowered component (I think a resistor), and it was prone to burn out. When that happened, the circuit board also prevented the compressor from running.

      They replaced the circuit board for us for cost of labor only (known problem), but I don’t know if there was any recall involved (perhaps a hidden one).

      The next problem we had (last year) was that the freezer stopped cooling again. It was due to a thermostat that goes bad. The repairman knew instantly what the problem was (he’d seen this problem quite a few times), and replaced the thermostat, but it cost us about a hundred fifty dollars to get that problem fixed. I wrote GE about the problem thermostat (there are lots of instances of the problem on the Internet), but GE just brushed it off.