His refrigerator won’t stop buzzing. Will Home Depot take it back?

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By Christopher Elliott

Keith Cantrell’s new refrigerator is making a loud buzzing sound. GE can’t fix it, and Home Depot won’t let him return it. What should he do?

Question

I bought a GE refrigerator from Home Depot’s website in February. I noticed a loud buzzing noise within an hour the appliance was installed. While it isn’t “hold your hands over your ears” loud, you can easily hear it from across the room.

I called to complain within 48 hours of taking delivery that the fridge was making an unacceptable amount of noise. I requested a replacement or refund.

A GE technician came to my house but could not fix the noise. I asked for a refund, but the company refused. 

Home Depot says it doesn’t have a return policy for appliances and that it is only the middleman. GE won’t take it back, claiming this is a case of buyer’s remorse. Can you help me? — Keith Cantrell, Austin, Texas

Answer

Home Depot should have quickly accepted a return or replaced the appliance with a non-buzzing model. Instead, it insisted that a GE technician come out to check the refrigerator.

Actually, Home Depot has a special policy for appliances such as refrigerators. It says the unit “should be inspected for defects or damage.” If you find one, notify the driver about damages for options and refuse delivery if you do not want the damaged product. 

“Once delivery is accepted or a product is removed from the store by a customer, the product may be returned if the defects and/or damage are identified and reported to The Home Depot by calling (800) 455-3869 within 48 hours of delivery,” it adds.

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You let Home Depot know about the buzzing sound within two days. But was it truly a defect? It looks as if GE thought it wasn’t after its initial service call. But after three visits, a technician agreed that something was amiss.

Here’s how I see it: You’re the customer, and if your appliance is making strange noises, your opinion counts — not GE’s and not Home Depot’s. After all, it’s your kitchen.

It looks like you followed all the right steps to a resolution, including sending written appeals to both companies. I list the names, numbers and addresses of the customer service executives at Home Depot and GE on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. You also followed the Elliott Method for resolving this by being patient, polite, and persistent. Nice work.

However, you did not appeal this problem to GE in writing. You say it was because you thought this was between you and Home Depot, but I think GE bore some responsibility. I have a free guide to repairing, replacing or refunding your appliance, which might have moved things forward. But, based on the file you shared, both companies had given you the cold shoulder.

I contacted GE on your behalf, and a representative offered to send another technician to your home. Instead, and independent of my intervention, you loaded the refrigerator onto a pickup truck and returned it to Home Depot. The company accepted the appliance and gave you a full refund.

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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 Panamá City.

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