Lowe's Tries To Replace Busted Fridge, Whirlpool Says No

We’ve written before about people who, after having no luck getting an appliance fixed by the manufacturer, successfully turned to the retailer for a replacement. But here’s the story of a New Jersey woman who thought Lowe’s had thrown her a lifeline to pull her out of the hellish swirl of Whirlpool’s horrid customer service, only to find that even the hardware giant was no match for the appliance company’s incompetence.

The woman’s story, as told to the Newark Star-Ledger’s Bamboozled column, begins in March, when she purchased a new Whirlpool fridge from Lowe’s.

Within a month, the icemaker had stopped making ice and the veggies in the vegetable drawer were freezing.

On April 20, the first Whirlpool tech visited and found there was no power getting to the icemaker. This would require a new icemaker unit, so he ordered one.

The icemaker was replaced on May 5, and worked fine… for a few weeks before failing again.

She then got an appointment for June 16, except no one from the service company ever showed and since it was a Saturday no one at the office picked up the phone. She called again on the Monday and no one responded to her message. On Tuesday, she was told that there was apparently a problem with the phones.

Eventually, after the icemaker mysteriously began working again, only to once more fail, the customer had yet another appointment set for July 23.

The window for the call was changed twice that morning and then, after the second window had closed, the woman says she received a call “to say that it was not warranty work and that I would have to pay for the service call.”

So she called Whirlpool HQ and began faxing paperwork to prove the work was still under warranty. She also called Lowe’s, which confirmed the repair would be covered by her warranty and set up a repair call.

The service company hired by Lowe’s then insisted that the repair wasn’t covered by the warranty, so she contacted Lowe’s again.

Lowe’s then tried to set up an appointment with a different company, except it was the same one that had failed to fix the fridge and had first insisted the woman would have to pay.

“I immediately called Lowe’s and I explained everything and requested a different service company,” she tells Bamboozled.

So on Aug. 14, another tech from another service company came out.

“The technician thought I would need another new icemaker,” says the customer. “He also determined that I would need a new damper. Regarding the vegetable drawer, he said that he would have to call their office, when they were open, to ask what to do about that.”

A week later, she says the tech didn’t replace the entire icemaker, but only a part of it. And that his repair for the vegetable drawer was to put some paper towel in the where the cold air vents into the drawer.

“[H]e said that on `older models’ this works,” recalls the woman. “He said to give the icemaker 24 hours to make ice.”

But no luck, and no ice.

After being told by the service company that it had done everything it could think of, she contacted Lowe’s again and was told it would request a replacement fridge from Whirlpool.

Alas, Whirlpool said no to the request, so she had to set up another service appointment.

But the service company, which had already been out to monkey around with her icemaker earlier in the summer, called to give her the bad news that it could not fix her icemaker since it was not the company that put in the original replacement icemaker.

Another call to Lowe’s and more bad news — she would need to have one more service appointment before there could be another request for a replacement fridge.

No one ever called her to set up an appointment, so she contacted Bamboozled, which — surprise, surprise — was able to get Whirlpool to admit the fridge needed replacing in only two days.

Bamboozled: Around and around with Whirlpool over frozen fridge [NJ.com]

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  1. Lyn Torden says:

    If Whirlpool would not fix it until Bamboozled gets the story, why would anyone buy Whirlpool products?

    • redskull says:

      Indeed. Whirlpool is at the very top of my city’s sh*t list.

      At one time they employed a third of the residents at their factory here, but last year they shut it down and moved their production to Mexico.

      • scoutermac says:

        You must be from Evansville, IN

        • wmibizownr says:

          or Benton Harbor, MI

          • YouDidWhatNow? says:

            Or any American city plagued by unions.

            • bigroblee says:

              Ah, yes; this is clearly a result of unions fighting to ensure safe and healthy working conditions along with fair compensation. Nothing at all to do with companies being willing to move jobs wherever the cheapest labor and lowest environmental regulations are in order to maximize already obscene profits. In point of fact, the Q3 profits for Whirlpool were up 124% but they still laid off 5,000 American workers because they “anticipated” lower demand. Their revenue for 2011 was over 18.5 billion dollars. They’re still making large profits this year, with over 110 million in profit in the second quarter.

              In closing, shut the fuck up.

              • MickeyMoo says:

                Marry me! (failing that, thank for saying that better than I could ever hope to)

              • YouDidWhatNow? says:

                Your points are irrelevant. Unions are not needed in any legitimate way. They serve only to force companies to pay vastly higher labor costs than the market would normally bear, ultimately resulting in either the company’s bankruptcy or the moving of those jobs to someplace else entirely. In either case, the endgame is the same…everyone loses.

                Dog forbid you have to get, and keep, a job based on your own merits and be paid a reasonable wage for the job you’re performing.

                • PurplePenquin says:

                  “Unions are not needed in any legitimate way. They serve only to force companies to pay vastly higher labor costs than the market would normally bear, ultimately resulting in either the company’s bankruptcy or the moving of those jobs to someplace else entirely. In either case, the endgame is the same…everyone loses.”

                  Two of the most profitable industries in the USA…Movie/TV & the NFL….are also both strongly unionized.

                  *shrug*

                • poco says:

                  That’s a good conservative! Who’s a good boy? Now repeat after me: Multinational corporations always treat their workers well without any organized intervention. Living wages are always provided for workers who are loyal and efficient. If employees aren’t being treated well, or their jobs are shipped off to third world countries it’s always their fault.

                  Good little conservative! Here’s a treat for you!

                • MarkFL says:

                  Yes, we were much better off when laborers were forced to work 10 hours a day, six days a week, in unsafe factories, with no overtime, no health coverage, and no breaks. Oh, yeah, children, too.

                  Don’t worry, if things keep up, we’ll soon be back to those good ol’ days, thanks to the Tea Party, Americans for Prosperity, and others who look forward to an American serf system. That worked out really well in Russia, didn’t it?

              • JonBoy470 says:

                Labor unions served (and continue to serve) as an important check in the labor market. Many of the working conditions we take for granted today, such as the 40 hour work-week, safety regulations, the end of child labor, etc. were bought for us through the labor movement. Unions’ continued existence is an important hedge against employers back-sliding to cut costs.

                Unfortunately, having achieved their original goals decades ago, unions have succumbed to mission creep to justify their continued existence. In securing ever more costly fringe benefits and concessions from employers, unions have eroded the cost competitiveness of their members’ labor, and in turn made the companies who actually employ them less cost competitive. They’ve essentially sown the seeds of their own lay-offs.

                Employers eventually, and inevitably, turned to other labor pools (cough, Mexico, cough, China) willing to do the work with fewer such protections and benefits, and thus at much lower cost. Those workers will eventually tire of their lot, and demand improvement, and the cycle will repeat itself.

                • bigroblee says:

                  There is some truth in what you say. I used to believe that companies were moving jobs because of lower labor costs, but when I did research, and found out how little the actual labor cost is an impact to items I did more reading. A lot of the issues have to do with regulations; both business and ecological. In Mexico, you want to expand your plant, you just do it, maybe pay off the local council. You have environmental waste, rather than filing forms, getting permits, placarding trailers, and sending it to an authorized receiving facility, you just toss it in a truck and dump it off at the local dump. In China and other places it’s even less of a hassle; just dump it down the drain. Also, even in a non union company you have to abide by certain rules to terminate someone; in Mexico you can legally fire someone for being overweight or unattractive. Not sure about China; usually the workforce there is “somewhat” captive, sort of like the old company town workers.

    • AzCatz07 says:

      I love Whirlpool appliances. It’s the only brand I buy. I guess different people have different experiences, but you can find negative stories about every brand.

      • scoutermac says:

        I have had good experiences with Whirlpool appliances. but I have not owned very many and most I have used were much older appliances that someone else owned.

  2. Ilovegnomes says:

    Doesn’t the lemon law apply to this situation?

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Pretty good chance the thing wasn’t made by Whirlpool in the first place. Fridges et al are becoming like computers and TVs…the name badge on the thing frequently says nothing about who actually made the thing.

    • Salesman! says:

      Actually Whirlpool is one of the few manufacturers left. Whirlpool makes Whirlpool, Maytag, Estate, Admiral, low end Kenmores, Amana, Roper, Speed Queen, and Kitchenaid. GE makes GE and HotPoint. Electrolux makes Electrolux, Frigidaire, and some Kenmore Elites. LG makes LG and Kenmore/Elite. Samsung makes Samsung & 1 low end Kenmore frontload set.

  4. Pete the Geek says:

    This case gives the impression that Whirlpool refrigerators are difficult to repair. It is unfortunate that it took escalation to the media to get Whirlpool’s cooperation, because in a competitive market, Whirlpool’s reputation is one thing that makes the company stand out. I wonder if Whirlpool’s warranty claims department is in-house or an outside contractor?

  5. kellyg says:

    I purchased a 1200 dollar whirlpool icemaker for my office from an online retailer, US Appliance. Within a few days the icemaker wouldn’t make ice. I had service guys in and out of the office 10+ times and they would occasionally take the icemaker with them back to their shop to work on. They literally replaced every single part more than once and that would have paid for a replacement icemaker many times. The worst part was when it randomly developed mold in all the tubes and the service tech said “oh that’s supposed to happy. most people just don’t see it.” Really? Mold is SUPPOSED to develop and then be washed away and frozen for you to consume?

    In my opinion, after 5 times attempting to fix something with major parts being replaced, it should be considered a lemon and the entire unit should be replaced. I went through this entire process for about a year before a whirlpool rep finally told me that she agreed that the icemaker should be replaced, however I voided the warranty for bringing into an office. Damn fine print I didn’t read.

  6. larryed says:

    When my wife & I bought a condo, we remodeled the kitchen and replaced all of the appliances with top of the line Whirlpool. After using the oven cleaning process when a casserole spilled over, the cleaning cycle melted the drawers on both sides of the oven. The Whirlpool repair guy said you should never, ever use the oven cleaning system because it gets too hot. My wife has used that cycle on other ovens forever and now you can’t use it? It sure doesn’t warn you about that in the user manual.

  7. Buzz says:

    Normally, Whirlpool is the better company to deal with. Samsung french door units were horrible a while back due to their ice makers only making two buckets of ice in a 12-24 hour period. Whirlpool’s new dishwasher looks a lot better, but they went real cheap on the door latch. We’ll see how long it takes them to break. Was a manager ever contacted at Lowe’s, or better yet, their customer relations line?