Lisa Veyka’s air conditioner stops working just before a hot holiday weekend. Why won’t anyone help her?
Question: I am writing to relate an awful customer service experience I recently had. I bought a Frigidaire air conditioner a little less than two years ago from Best Buy. It recently stopped working.
So I called the 800 number and, after taking down the product’s serial number, the customer service representative gave me the number of an authorized repair center. I called and we set up an appointment for them to check out the unit in early July, and I arranged to cancel my morning clients so I could be home.
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On July 3, a day before the Independence Day holiday, I got a call from the repair shop saying the unit wasn’t repairable and must be replaced. I couldn’t reach anyone at Frigidaire’s customer service number until Monday, since it was a holiday weekend — a hot holiday weekend with no air conditioning, a canceled appointment for Monday and lost income from my canceled appointments.
I called customer service on Monday morning and explained the situation to them. They offered to send a replacement to a distributor in Queens, but I live in Manhattan. They also said I’d need to bring the defective unit to Queens for exchange. Several phone calls later, they found a distributor in Manhattan. But the dealer didn’t have any information about my defective unit and wanted to charge a $50 “disposal” fee.
My warranty covers any removal, plus parts and labor, as long as it is part of the sealed refrigeration system. All I’m asking for is a repair or, in the event that it is irreparable, a replacement unit sent to my home. Instead, I’ve been met with nothing but a barrage of “no’s” from Frigidaire’s customer service department.
Violating a contract, making false repair assurances, sending customers to unreachable dealers and dealers who want “disposal” fees to dispose of products, is shamefully unprofessional. Can you help me get Frigidaire to honor its warranty?
— Lisa Veyka, New York
Answer: Frigidaire shouldn’t have given you the runaround on a busted air conditioner, particularly just before a blazing hot holiday weekend. It should have had all hands on deck to make sure its appliances were working.
Look, here’s the thing: If you’re in the appliance business, you know that people rely on your products at key times, like the Fourth of July. Remember this case involving Sears and a reader’s Easter dinner? You can’t just give everyone the weekend off — not in this line of work.
And I speak from personal experience. What do you think I’m doing on holiday weekends? That’s right, while my family is chowing down on turkey dinner, I’m squirreled away in my office, helping fix people’s consumer problems. By the way, I love my work and I do take time off to spend with my kids, but just not when everyone else is off the clock. I’m fine with that.
The problem with your unit — in addition to the laissez faire attitude of Frigidaire and its authorized repair centers — was your warranty. Parts of the unit were covered for five years, including the cost of disposal. Other parts weren’t. The repair facility in Manhattan couldn’t have known if your warranty applied until it opened the air conditioner to diagnose the malfunction.
You did an excellent job of blazing a paper trail to Frigidaire, including to its executives at Electrolux, which owns Frigidaire. Unfortunately, no one responded. I decided to contact Frigidaire on your behalf and you received a call from the CEOs executive assistant, who tried to help you find a new unit. The best she could do was to connect you with a local distributor, who wanted to charge you $250, which is more than you spent on the air conditioner. Not an ideal solution.
Finally, you turned to Best Buy, which had sold you the unit. It agreed to exchange it at no cost to you.
Nice work, Best Buy.