Is Paying $400 More For The Same Refrigerator Really A Replacement?

E-mails to Consumerist about Electrolux products typically usually contain expressions of dismay. Customers are upset that appliances that are supposed to be “the best” around and are priced accordingly have failed, even within the warranty period, and the company won’t help. You may recall the story of George from a few weeks ago. After some effort, George got Electrolux to offer to buy back his refrigerator, but not to pay the $400 difference between the price of the unit a year ago and its current price. Here’s the interesting thing, though: somehow he managed to buy two separate warranties that replace defective appliances. Not buy back, replace.

Meanwhile, a new repairman came out to visit and diagnose the problem, declaring it not repairable.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote you about an issue with an Electrolux refrigerator. Well the story has gotten even more impossible. As it turns out, we purchased 2 warranties on this item actually by accident. One from Electrolux and one from HH Gregg where we purchased the refrigerator. The one from HH Gregg was a 5 year, the one from Electrolux was a one year. BOTH warranties promise to replace the item if proven defective and unable to be repaired.

Apparently, after having the second repairman look at the refrigerator the problem was a refrigerant leak going into the sealed system of the refrigerator. Unable to be repaired the repairman said. NOT user malfunction or lack of care to the unit by the owners. Please keep in mind at the first call for service the unit was less than 1 year old.

BOTH Electrolux and HH Gregg have since (I will spare you the saga) come back to us with ‘We will refund you the cost of the unit, ($1799.) not including taxes (which of course we paid) not including delivery and installation (which at the time had been waived by HH Gregg but was a charge of $69.99) and NOT including disposal of the unit which they do not want back. (This unit is almost 20 cubic feet….it is not small and it is heavy)

The cost to replace the unit is now $2199. We have the matching freezer and they are in a visible space in the kitchen so we pretty much have to buy the same unit all over again….now at a higher cost, pay taxes again and pay delivery and installation AND pay to have the unrepairable one disposed of.

How do they get away with this? Our warranty (BOTH of them) clearly states they will replace the unit if not repairable.

Anyone out there have any suggestions? My first inclination is to hire an Attorney but I have been assured by both warranty companies (with a definite smirk in their voices) that I can go right ahead but I will not win. Am I just going to be throwing more $$ after what I have already spent? HOW can they get away with this?

We’d suggest calculating the difference and taking one of the companies (Electrolux seems like the better candidate, but H.H. Gregg did have the longer warranty) to small claims court over the difference between last year’s purchase price and the cost of replacing the fridge. It’s not guaranteed to work, and may require actually getting the appliance delivered and then calculating expenses.

PREVIOUSLY:
Even A Happy Ending To An Appliance Saga Doesn’t Leave Customer Happy

RELATED:
How I Took On Electrolux And Got A Working Refrigerator
I Would Like To Use My Year-Old Electrolux Stove To Cook Some Meals

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. deathbecomesme says:

    One of the best examples of small claims courts if I’ve ever seen one. Sue for the extra cost to replace + court cost

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Forgot to mention that you need to read ALL of the fine print in that warranty you purchased. It may have a clause that states they can give you a refund rather than replace the unit. IF it doesn’t then you have a perfect case for small claims.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Forgot to mention that you need to read ALL of the fine print in that warranty you purchased. It may have a clause that states they can give you a refund rather than replace the unit. IF it doesn’t then you have a perfect case for small claims.

      • Golfer Bob says:

        Agreed. Just scanned the HHGregg Terms and Conditions online and they do appear to include a limitation based on the total purchase price of the unit, less taxes, delivery, etc.

        • Golfer Bob says:

          The Electrolux website only has a summary of the terms and conditions of the warranty, which would be found in their entirety in the OP’s original documents. Most likely also includes a limitation / exclusion based on the original purchase price of the unit.

          I’m quite surprised that the OP, who seems well versed and and quite proficient in research and argument, can’t easily find this info for him/herself.

      • Geekybiker says:

        This is mostly likely the case. Seems the almost always have a buyout clause. Sometimes the unit is discontinues and replacement isn’t feasible and repair isn’t an option. Your best chance is probably going to be to ask them to sell you the new unit at cost

  2. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    when disposing of the offending appliance later, check with your power company. mine will pay you $50 if you let them haul away and recycle your broken fridge

    • nybiker says:

      Con Ed here in NYC will do that, HOWEVER, the 2nd unit must be a working unit.
      The other option for disposal here in NYC is to recycle it.
      “Before discarding appliances containing CFC gas or freon (such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, or dehumidifiers), you must schedule an appointment to place the item at the curb for CFC recovery.”
      Read more here (you can also make the appointment): http://www.nyc.gov/html/dsny/html/collection/freon.shtml or call 3-1-1.

  3. CrazyEyed says:

    They will smirk now and frown later. Call their bluff and take them to small claims. Get the difference back as well as legal fees for your representation. These companies will not learn until you start chipping away at the only thing they care about and that is money.

  4. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    For disposal, try Craigslist. Advertise a free, non-working, 2011 model fridge, and it’ll be gone soon. There are plenty of people out there who will want to take a crack at fixing it.

  5. vastrightwing says:

    Paying a premium for a consumer appliance is rarely worth it. Go to a big box retailer (Home Depot, Lowes, etc.) Buy the cheapest appliance that will do the job and be done with it. Spending extra cash for a premium model is a waste of your resources. 1) They fail faster because the factory builds fewer of them and they aren’t tested at the same level as the higher volume models are. 2) parts are expensive and less available 3) as we all know, no one wants to make good on warranties, so don’t expect that to help you. Just learn to make do with the most popular and available models. Works for me.

  6. az123 says:

    Before you waste your time in court, get the documents you signed and look them over.. most of them are clear and state replacement is limited to the total purchase cost. “replacement” is a term and they likely defined it to be limited to purchase price. The advice for the small claims is reasonable but make sure you did not agree to something

    • Jawaka says:

      Agreed.

      In fact I’ve never heard of a warranty that covers the cost of taxes paid, installing a replacement or disposing of the old unit.

    • Kyle says:

      Very good point.

      I think if I were in George’s shoes, I would carefully read the terms of the warranty to see if it spells out the definition of “replacement.”

      Even if it did, I still might consult with a lawyer to see if I could argue that there’s a reasonable expectation that “replacement” means covering either (1) the current expense of purchasing the same or comparable model, or (2) at the very least refunding the complete cost of the original purchase, including sales tax paid.

      But in the end, it’s probably gonna be “suck it up and take the hit”. God knows I’ve had to suffer a few of them myself (fracking Maryland MTA and their stupid bus driver falling asleep at the wheel!)

  7. u1itn0w2day says:

    Sounds like Electrolux is using the purchase price and not model numbers for warranty purposes. It should be features and like for like models. Unless the new one is new and improved compared to the defective one I don’t see how they can get away with it.

    Fine Print?

    • az123 says:

      Same way your car insurance company does not have to use anything but the blue book to give you money on your car. I knew someone who had cheap insurance and literally got hit pulling their brand new car out of the dealer lot… well since they had cheap insurance they got the blue book on their “used” car and ended up eating a couple thousand dollars. It is all about what you contract for and what you agreed to

      • Kate says:

        If he got hit by someone else, than that person’s insurance should be on the hook to replace the car he has with one of equal quality, not value – in other words, another brand new car.

        • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

          Depending on where he lives, there’s a good chance that the other driver didn’t have insurance. In my state, 20% of the cars on the road are uninsured.

        • JJFIII says:

          Actually not true. Int eh state of Michigan the concept is called NO FAULT. Which means I can sue the offending driver for a maximum of $500 PERIOD.

  8. Bionic Data Drop says:

    He should tell his auto insurance if he totals his 2011 car, he’d like it to be replaced by a 2012 model, even if it’s a few thousand dollars more. After they hang up on him, he’d have two stories for consumerist to jump on.

    He should be refunded the cost of the item and maybe all fees, but that’s it. He isn’t entitled to a newer, and probably better model fridge.

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      His warranty says ‘replacement’, not ‘purchase price’ or ‘depreciated value’.

      • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

        Exactly. A replacement 2011 fridge. OP wants a 2012 fridge.

        • chargernj says:

          yes, but the warranty promises an replacement, not credit, and not cash. If the company no longer has a 2011 fridge sitting in their warehouse then that should be the companies problem, not the OPs. The company has to come up with a reasonable alternative. A 2012 model is a reasonable alternative replacement, cash is not.

          • Salesman! says:

            Every one of the contracts I’ve seen regarding this have a clause stating they will replace the fridge -OR- refund a given amount.

    • chatterboxwriting says:

      My auto insurance company does this. We have a 2011 Sonata; if it is totaled, it will be replaced with a new Sonata from whatever the current year is. If it’s totaled in 2014, we’ll get a 2014 Sonata (let’s hope it’s never totaled, though).

      • Chmeeee says:

        And you pay more for that service. If all you got was the actual book value at the time of the crash, your premium would cost you less money.

    • George4478 says:

      >>. He isn’t entitled to a newer, and probably better model fridge.

      If he bought replacement insurance, who are you to tell he that he isn’t entitled to a replacement?

  9. crispyduck13 says:

    I can personally guarantee you that you will NOT have to pay to dispose of the non-working fridge. Call your electricity company and ask if they do a reimbursement program for new appliances, they bought my old fridge for $50! Or as others have said, Craigslist. Just put up a curb notice, wheel it out there and trust me, it will be gone within a few days.

    As for the $400 plus taxes, small claims FTW. They are obviously violating their contract.

  10. Ashman says:

    My suggestion.. get out the warranty and read the fine print. See what it says. then I would use small claims and name both the manufacturer and the retailer in the suit. May want to contact an attorney and see if they are in violation of their own warranty.

  11. Marlin says:

    “BOTH Electrolux and HH Gregg have since come back to us with ‘We will refund you the cost of the unit, ($1799.)”

    So maybe I misread BUT…

    $1799 + $1799 > $2199

    Are they both going to cut a check since its 2 differant warranties? Can;t hurt to try?

    • mikesanerd says:

      That’s what I was thinking. Seems sketchy, but the guy was paying for a second warranty, right? So how can HH Gregg charge you for a double warranty if there’s zero chance they’ll have to pay out because the fridge is already under warranty? I’d like to hear the opinion on one of our local legal experts on this one.

    • Dr. Shrinker says:

      Since neither one wants the fridge back, I say he should collect on both warranties (what are the chances that HHGregg and Electrolux communicate with each other?)

  12. BigDragon says:

    Complain to your state’s attorney general and cite specifically where the replace clause is. If your attorney general is decent (like the ones in Pennsylvania and Michigan) you’ll amazingly get all companies involved to honor their warranty terms immediately. They’ll come up with really fun excuses too. My favorite came from Samsung where they told a friend of mine that his warranty claim had been “properly logged” immediately following the attorney general complaint. Funny, it apparently had been incorrectly logged for months somehow.

    It seems a lot of these high-end appliances are simply made for looks and not quality or performance.

    • Moniker Preferred says:

      Michigan’s attorney general is far too busy these days trying to re-define state laws to comply with the political dogma of his party to engage in stuff like this.

  13. cheviot says:

    Check your warranty. Most warranties have a stipulation that the maximum value of the plan is the original puchase price, hence the reason they won’t pay the difference between the old and new purchase price.

  14. chucklebuck says:

    We have the matching freezer and they are in a visible space in the kitchen so we pretty much have to buy the same unit all over again

    I’m not telling you what to do, since your needs & circumstances are your own, but if this was me, I’d sell the freezer and replace both units with another brand rather than give this company more money. You really do have options that don’t involve supporting terrible companies.

    • mikesanerd says:

      Yeah. +1. If HH Gregg and Electrolux will only give you the cash, and not a replacement, then (1) buy a different brand next time, and every time, and (2) never shop at HH Gregg again. I would just buy a mismatched fridge, and every time someone asks you why, you can warn them never to buy electrolux or hh gregg. Double win.

    • Salesman! says:

      Good luck. I believe I know what model he has, and if he doesn’t want to do any remodeling he’s got 3 choices. Electrolux, Frigidaire (maybe), and Kenmore Elite/Pro. Guess who makes all 3. It’s a pretty unique unit, IIRC each unit is 33″ across, making the total width 66″ (could be 36/72). There are no other units that fit this bill AFAIK. He’d end up having to add in cabinetry or deal with a very large hole.

  15. Moniker Preferred says:

    “Customers are upset that appliances that are supposed to be “the best” around…”

    I am curious why this site, allegedly owned by Consumer Reports, would post such a statement?

    CR’s current ratings for french door-bottom freezers has *gasp!* a KENMORE model rated #1. The first Electrolux model is down around the 40th position!, and it costs 50% more than the Kenmore.

    Consumer Reports doesn’t rate Electrolux reliability at all. This is often because the sample size is too small to get a good confidence interval.

    I realize that the original statement implies that it is the CUSTOMER who holds those misperceptions, but for a CR-owned site to make such a statement without clarification is inappropriate.

    I also realize that Consumerist would likely gag at having to give some credit towards anything from Sears, but does does Daddy CR know what Consumerist is doing?

  16. Dmente says:

    Don’t waste your time , it may be a replacement plan but the TOS will indicate that refunding the price paid for the unit it’s the same as replacement.I used to work on warranties and have heard this same rant over and over ad nauseum .Try to escalate to Home office because not even a supervisor will help you Or carpet bomb them to make a exception . but sadly this is how most warranties work =(

  17. Randy says:

    Just about every warranty I have ever seen has in its terms and conditions:
    If we determine in our sole discretion that your product cannot be repaired, we will replace it with a product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance or reimburse you for replacement of the product with a voucher or gift card, at our discretion, equal to the current market value of the product, as determined by us, not to exceed the original purchase price of your product, including taxes.
    Technological advances may result in a replacement product with a lower selling price than the original product.

    Sucks but their butts are covered.

  18. Randy says:

    Just about every warranty I have ever seen has in its terms and conditions:
    If we determine in our sole discretion that your product cannot be repaired, we will replace it with a product of like kind and quality that is of comparable performance or reimburse you for replacement of the product with a voucher or gift card, at our discretion, equal to the current market value of the product, as determined by us, not to exceed the original purchase price of your product, including taxes.
    Technological advances may result in a replacement product with a lower selling price than the original product.

    Sucks but their butts are covered.

  19. sirwired says:

    Go to the state insurance regulator. Extended warranties are insurance, and regulated as such. The policy text should say which company was foolish enough to be listed as the official Claims Administrator.

    If that doesn’t work, this situation is ripe for Small Claims court. This is the exact sort of thing they exist for.

  20. kcvaliant says:

    As others have said, the fine print stipulates they can do this.

    Guess what? Take it to small claims anyway. A judge will eat them alive for the deceptive wordinding.

    I can see them not paying for delivery and hookup costs as they were done. But taxes should be repaid if they are buying it back.

    I would just go calmly and explain. You can trade me fridges and I pay for delivery or you refund in full plus taxes or we go to small claims.

    Them paying you plus refusing to pick up the old one is win/win. Repairshops would pay you to get it for the parts.

  21. kcvaliant says:

    As others have said, the fine print stipulates they can do this.

    Guess what? Take it to small claims anyway. A judge will eat them alive for the deceptive wordinding.

    I can see them not paying for delivery and hookup costs as they were done. But taxes should be repaid if they are buying it back.

    I would just go calmly and explain. You can trade me fridges and I pay for delivery or you refund in full plus taxes or we go to small claims.

    Them paying you plus refusing to pick up the old one is win/win. Repairshops would pay you to get it for the parts.

  22. SkokieGuy says:

    Late to the party on this, but angle I have not seen.

    When you return something to any other store, the sales tax on the amount of the return is part of the credit you receive.

    Sales tax is paid to the state and federal government. When I an item is returned, the sales tax can be returned to the merchant (claimed as a credit against future receipts).

    If the merchants wants to charge a “restock fee” equal to the sales tax, that is one thing, but to retain funds identify as “federal sales tax” I believe would be a felony.

    You might want to contact the IRS about this practice. I believe they offer a finder’s fee toward funds collected….

  23. DanKelley98 says:

    I’d replace both the fridge and the freezer with some other brand.

  24. ttw1 says:

    Just be glad you didn’t buy patio furniture.

  25. sparc says:

    The real lesson here is not to buy extended warranties and find other alternative coverage like from your credit card that might extend for free.

    George should stop being a dumbass and take that $1799. It’s better than spending hundreds more on a lawyer and then finding out that there are some big loopholes in the warranty that you didn’t bother to read.

    Why the heck do you even want a new Electrolux? If it dies in another year, you’ll be complaining here yet again with the same crappy model.

    George is turning this into one big comical circus.

  26. syxx says:

    He paid $1799 but the new version is $2199. H.H. Gregg can not sell him the $2199 one to him (the current line) for $1799 because electrolux is price locked, though they refunded the entire purchase price of a fridge that is unfix-able, which follows the terms of their service plan.

    The fridge could break 4 years down the line and he’d still get the $1799 back to buy another one.

    Extended warranties that overlap manufacturers warranties still hold the manufacturer up to their end of the bargain and electrolux is the one not coming through for their customer, not Warrantech.

  27. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I second small claims court. They can say you won’t win all they want, but it seems pretty cut and dry.

  28. JJFIII says:

    The thing every person on here has failed to mention is that George got 1 year out of the appliance. Offering a FULL refund puts him in a better position than before. It would be like saying you have a replacement warranty on a car for 10 years 100k miles. THey need to replace it at the one year mark. Guess what, that model is no longer produced. There may be no new ones left. So Electrolux COULD be held to the letter of the contract that George thinks it says and actually give him a USED replacement fridge. Though I am sure the warranty clearly states up to the original value, because then they would be on the hook for five years, Nobody would offer that.