This is primarily a travel blog in which I write about traveling in our motorhome. Our travels have

Nacogdoches, TX, United States
I began this blog as a vehicle for reporting on a 47-day trip made by my wife and me in our motorhome down to the Yucatan Peninsula and back. I continued writing about our post-Yucatan travels and gradually began including non-travel related topics. I often rant about things that piss me off, such as gun violence, fracking, healthcare, education, and anything else that pushes my button. I have a photography gallery on my Smugmug site (http://rbmartiniv.smugmug.com).

Monday, March 28, 2016

Refrigerator Warranties, A Lesson

My wife and I purchased a Whirlpool French door refrigerator with bottom freezer about 18 months ago when we moved into our new house.  It cost us around $2,400 and it worked fine until Thanksgiving of last year when it stopped cooling. Almost everything in the fridge had to be thrown out. The warranty was a 12-month limited warranty and had expired. Still, one would not expect a refrigerator to completely die in 18-months!

To cut to the chase, I scheduled a Whirlpool factory-trained service man to come and repair it. It didn’t take him long to decide there was a refrigerant leak somewhere in the system. This was causing the compressor to work overtime and was close to failing. However, like most new refrigerators today, the heart of the refrigerator is a “sealed” or “closed” system. This means that the compressor, evaporator, condenser, dryer, and connecting tubing are all enclosed, in what I’m not sure, and therefore expensive to repair. The technician added some refrigerant as a temporary fix but told us we might wish to consider purchasing a new refrigerator due to the expense of repair. He suggested that I call Whirlpool, even though it was out of warranty, and see if they would do anything to help.

Meanwhile, my wife and I purchased a relatively inexpensive (about $430) refrigerator to use until our Whirlpool was repaired. Later, we could put it in the storeroom and use it as backup.

I called Whirlpool customer service, as the service man had suggested, but of course was told that the refrigerator was out of warranty and there was nothing they could do. I asked to speak with someone who could do something and was put on hold. After a few minutes the same person came back on line and informed me that she had gotten approval to replace the compressor for free, although I would have to pay for the labor. I agreed.

The same service man returned a couple of weeks later with a new Whirlpool-provided compressor and replaced the one that had burned out by this time. He added more refrigerant and everything was fine, but only for two weeks and then it died again. The service man told us that our only choice now was a new refrigerator. By this time we had paid about $300 in sales calls and labor and the refrigerator was still dead and, apparently, would stay that way.

This time, instead of calling Whirlpool customer service, I wrote a letter to the president and CEO of Whirlpool and copied it to the Corporate Customer Service Manager and another person that I can’t remember. This resulted in a phone call from an executive assistant in the corporate office who told me that Whirlpool would replace any and all parts necessary to repair the refrigerator plus pay for all labor. Of course, I agreed and in mid February (remember this all started at Thanksgiving) a service man was sent to examine the refrigerator and determine what parts required replacement.

In late February, two service technicians arrived at our house with a truckload of parts and spent about 5 hours replacing the old parts only to find that the refrigerator was still dead. One of the techs called me and said he had some bad news and some good news. The bad news was that the refrigerator was “irreparable.” The good news was that we would be getting a new refrigerator.

About a week later I received a second phone call from the same executive assistant and he explained what was going to happen. One year’s depreciation, along with a $50 administration fee, would be deducted from the current AWP (now $2,799) of the refrigerator, leaving a total of $2,369.10, which Whirlpool would allow on any refrigerator made by Whirlpool, Maytag, Kitchenaid, Amana, or Jenn Air (all are manufactured by the Whirlpool Corporation). All we had to do was select one.

Today, in late March, we finally made a choice. Of course, its price is higher than the allowed amount, so we will be paying a total of $699 (that make about $1,500 so far) with Whirlpool paying the difference. We should have our new refrigerator within ten to fifteen business days. It was a long and tortuous process, but well worth it.

I have written about this experience so that others may learn from it. When big dollars are at stake, go as far up the totem pole as you must in order to find someone that will help. There is also something else you can do before any trouble develops. This will help in avoiding what I went through. What is that something else? READ THE FINE PRINT IN THE WARRANTY! You will be surprised at how different the warranties for various refrigerator brands are. Even those made by the same manufacturer! Before we selected our “free” refrigerator, I read the warranties of all five brands from which we were allowed to select. I also read the warranties of other brands to see how they compared. I have created a table summarizing the major points of the warranties. Still, you should read the entire warranty before purchasing any refrigerator (or other appliance for that matter) to know exactly what the warranty covers.

When we purchased the Whirlpool refrigerator almost two years ago I did not read the warranty. The warranty was a one year limited warranty. Period. Since that time, Whirlpool has improved their warranty, probably due to so many “closed” refrigeration systems failing. I have included Whirlpool’s current warranty information in the chart.

You should also understand the terms, “Limited Warranty” and “Full Warranty.” There is a huge difference.

A “Full Warranty” means that the company will repair or replace the product during the warranty period at no cost whatsoever to the buyer.

A “Limited Warranty” is limited to only the specified parts, certain defects, or other conditions. Since it can be anything the manufacturer decides, you MUST read the warranty to determine what the manufacturer is and is not responsible for.

The brands included in the table have been placed in the order of what I consider the best to the worst warranty. Some are very close and some are identical.

Refrigerator Brand
1st Yr
2nd Yr
3rd Yr
5th Yr
6th Yr
7th Yr
10th Yr
12th Yr
Sub Zero








GE








LG








Kitchenaid








Maytag








Samsung








Jenn Air








Whirlpool








Amana









Legend:
Green         Full. All parts and labor for defective materials or workmanship.
Blue           Limited. Usually only specified parts and labor.
Yellow       Limited. Usually only specified parts.

Summary:
Sub Zero          2 yr FULL; 5 yr limited sealed system parts & labor; 12 yr LIMITED sealed system parts only.
GE                   2 yr FULL; 5 yr limited sealed system parts & labor; 12 yr LIMITED sealed system parts only.
Kitchenaid       1 yr FULL; 5 yr limited sealed system parts & labor; 10 yr LIMITED sealed system parts only.
LG                    1 yr FULL; 7 yr limited sealed system parts & labor; 10 yr LIMITED sealed system parts only.
Maytag            1 yr LIMITED specific parts & labor; 10 yr LIMITED compressor only.
Samsung         1 yr FULL; 5 yr LIMITED sealed system parts & labor; 10 yr LIMITED sealed system parts only.  NOTE: In-home service subject to availability. Owner may be required to transport refrigerator to service facility.
Jenn Air           1 yr LIMITED; 5 yr LIMITED sealed system parts & labor.
Whirlpool        1 yr FULL; 5 yr LIMITED sealed system parts & labor.
Amana            1 yr LIMITED.


1 comment :

Bill said...

Good summary of the warranties. Just too bad there was so much torture getting it resolved. Hopefully the replacement won't crap out.