Help! My Whirlpool refrigerator caused $4,200 in damage to my kitchen

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By Christopher Elliott

Steven Pearson’s Whirlpool refrigerator doesn’t work. It’s also leaking and has caused $4,200 in damage to his kitchen floor. Why won’t Whirlpool respond to his request for help?

Question

I need help with a Whirlpool refrigerator that has damaged my kitchen. I have experienced nothing but issues with the appliance since I got it in 2020. The ice maker doesn’t work. The leaky refrigerator caused $4,200 of damage to my kitchen floor.

Whirlpool asked me to fill out a claim form, which I did. But I have not heard back from the company. I am a loyal Whirlpool customer. All of my appliances are from Whirlpool. I want Whirlpool to repair my refrigerator and pay for the damages. Can you help me? — Steven Pearson, Boston 

Answer

Complaints about Whirlpool is not new for us. One customer’s KitchenAid dishwasher did not work, and Cynthia’s refrigerator shelves were cracking. There was also that time when Donna’s oven turned out to be a dud, and KitchenAid did not want to fix it.

The company should take responsibility for a faulty appliance and cover any damage the appliance causes. Or should it?

Looking at your warranty, there are two things to note: First, it’s a one-year warranty, so your ice maker would only be covered if you reported the problem the first year after purchase. And second, it specifically doesn’t cover damage resulting from “accident, alteration, misuse, abuse, fire, flood, improper installation, acts of God, or use of products not approved by Whirlpool Corporation or Whirlpool Canada Inc.” 

Now that’s what I call a broad exclusion. All the company would have to do is say that you misused or altered your refrigerator, and it’s off the hook. (Related: Whirlpool won’t fix these cracked shelves on my refrigerator.)

But that isn’t the problem. I reviewed your paperwork, and it looks like you had two requests. First, repair the ice maker. And second, cover the floor damage. That may have confused Whirlpool, which is accustomed to handling claims one at a time.

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There’s a takeaway for the rest of us here. When you file a claim or complain to a company, stick to one problem at a time. A list of issues may cause a delay. In your situation, it created a one-year delay. I imagine someone at Whirlpool put the claim in a file with the intention of getting back to you, but never did.  (Related: Why did this Whirlpool microwave go down the drain?)

Will the company repair this refrigerator?

To get things moving again, I recommend a brief, polite email sent to one of the executive contacts at Whirlpool. I publish the names, numbers and emails of the Whirlpool managers on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problems.)

My advocacy team and I contacted the company on your behalf. It agreed to repair your refrigerator and cover the cost of your floor.

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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. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

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