My refrigerator is cursed – can you lift the spell?

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By Christopher Elliott

Stephen Ashley’s refrigerator is cursed. Can a consumer advocate lift the spell?

Question

I bought a refrigerator from Best Buy a few years ago. The first fridge had a problem that could not be fixed, so it was replaced under warranty. The second fridge had a construction problem (that wasn’t noticed prior to delivery because apparently products are not given a visual examination before leaving the warehouse). And the third fridge, which was delivered in February 2012, died almost a month ago.

In the interim there have been repeated appointments with Best Buy’s outsourced service company, including many missed appointments on their end, multiple deliveries — including deliveries where the fridge was either forgotten or broken on delivery — and damage to our kitchen from the most recent delivery.

As the new replacement fridge we ordered could not be obtained quickly (note that we had booked delivery for Oct. 13 but just found out that this would be delayed — although no one called us to let us know), someone in customer service recommended that my pregnant wife and I get a small fridge at Best Buy for the interim, as being without a new fridge for so long is unreasonable, even if my wife weren’t pregnant. Best Buy told me to return the unit within 30 days per its normal return policy.

We did that, but we are not going to get the replacement fridge within that 30-day period, and who knows how long it will be, given the company’s track record of failed deliveries in the past.

I called the company 800-number for Best Buy, but the person I spoke to said I had to call the store to try to extend the return date. When I called the store I was told nothing could be done because the computer system will not accept a return after 30 days. Help!

Stephen Ashley, New York

Answer

I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Your refrigerator is cursed. I think you need to get rid of it immediately.

AirAdvisor is a claims management company. We fight for air passenger rights in cases of flight disruptions all over the world. Our mission is to ensure that air passengers are fairly compensated for the inconvenience and frustration caused by delays, cancellations, or overbooking.

There’s no way you could have anticipated this, except maybe by researching the particular unit you planned to buy, and seeing that it had problems. Even so, how could you have known Best Buy’s delivery guys would damage your kitchen? It’s just not possible to predict some things. (Related: Best Buy promised me a $150 refund for my Bosch dishwasher. Now it won’t pay!)

But at some point during this process (maybe a few years ago) you should have let Best Buy know how unhappy you were with the unit, and with the non-solutions it was offering. (Related: His refrigerator won’t stop buzzing. Will Home Depot take it back?)

Best Buy’s emails follow the [email protected] format. Maybe Hubert Joly, the new CEO, would have taken an interest in your case. (And if he doesn’t, then let me know.) Best Buy has an executive resolutions center that escalates cases like yours, which could have assisted you. (Here’s our guide to getting a repair, replacement or refund for your broken appliance.)

Here’s my perspective on a case like this: Warranties don’t apply to every purchase. If there’s a manufacturer’s defect or damage, either the manufacturer or the reseller has an obligation to replace the unit. So when your unit kept breaking down, that was something Best Buy should have taken care of quickly. (Related: Ashley Furniture customer service fail: Where’s my full contract?)

The company suggested getting a replacement fridge

Not extending its 30-day return policy was just silly. The company suggested getting a replacement fridge, and the purchase was contingent on receiving a new one before then.

Come on.

My advocacy team and I contacted Best Buy on your behalf. It apologized, quickly delivered a new refrigerator and let you keep the temporary one while also refunding your purchase price. You decided to donate the old unit to charity.

Did Best Buy offer Stephen Ashley enough compensation?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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