UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM (9/15/14, 9/17/14 & 9/18/14)
I have made a conscious choice to remove baked food from my diet back in early 2013. That has not stopped my wife from pursuing her passion for baking from time to time. It goes without saying that baking requires a well functioning baking oven. The one that came with our home was a Whirlpool Wall Oven/Microwave combination. Sometime in early 2014 the Oven broke down. I had no choice but to replace the combination. After doing some online research and a couple of trips to stores like Sears, Home Depot and Lowes, we decided to drop 2700 of our hard earned dollars on a brand new Whirlpool WOC95EC0AS wall oven microwave combo to replace the old one. Lowes sent someone home to take measurement to make sure that we ordered the right size for the slot in our kitchen. 2 weeks after the purchase, around March 27th or 28th, we had the Microwave/oven combo installed in our kitchen by some Lowes provided installation contractor. After installing the appliance, the technician demoed both the microwave and the oven part of the combo. Everything looked good and we were happy to see the shiny new appliance adorning our kitchen. Little did we know then that this would start a seemingly unending horror story.
For the first 3-4 weeks we used only the microwave and it worked as expected. Then one weekend, my wife decided to do some baking. The dough was prepared meticulously and then came the first surprise the oven refused to turn on – “Feature not available” the message scrolled across the LED display. And horror of horrors, the microwave started giving the same message immediately after. We looked online for solutions, and we found one that suggested that we try breaking the circuit for 1 minute and turn on again – we tried it to no avail. And now we went from having a working microwave/broken oven to no microwave/no oven.
We waited till the next day or so before placing a call to the customer service number provided in our warranty receipt. By now the 30 day return guarantee had expired and it was the end of April, 2014. Product was now under manufacturer’s warranty. Whirlpool/Lowes customer service scheduled a technician to come take a look at the oven.
My wife took a day off from work and waited for the technician. The technician from J&H appliance repair of SJ came home took look and then tried breaking the circuit and turning it on again after a minute; of course, it did not work. After consulting with someone on the phone, he decided to order some parts – the main circuit board. He promised to come back after the part arrived. We did receive a call from J&H to schedule an appointment to install the part and schedule a time we did. J&H decided to no-show us on the appointment and my wife wasted another day of her time-off from work.
We called customer-service again and this time they decided to send in a technician from a Sears owned company called A&E Factory Service. A technician came home and he went through the same steps as the earlier technician from J&H. This time, it was my turn to stay home and welcome the visitor. Finally when there was no trick up his sleeves to left to try, he decided he is going to order the main board. A&E technician did something different – he ordered the part to my home. I called him as soon as it arrived. We scheduled a time and he arrived to install the part. I stayed home again. Well, result was no different and the appliance was in no mood to oblige to our coaxing and cajoling – “Feature not available” it continued to bleep out. He ordered 2 more boards to my home. I stayed home again to welcome the technician and he arrived again to install the 2 new boards but the result was no different than the last time – “Feature not available” the zombie appliance screamed. He told me that there is only one that remains to be done – which is to replace the front panel circuitry – so he ordered it. By now it was end of June. We hadn’t used the oven for 3 full months and the microwave for 2 months.
First week of July, a new technician from A&E showed up early in the morning to install the newly ordered front panel. Surprise, Surprise – “Feature not available” screamed the shiny lemon sitting in my kitchen wall. The technician asked me if I will be home the whole day and I said yes. Another technician, a supposedly senior expert came by that afternoon. He tinkered with it for a couple of hours and like all who came before him, he surrendered. He said there is nothing left to do with the oven and that he is going to recommend that the oven be replaced.
He left me a voicemail next morning saying that I need to call Whirlpool myself and apprise them of my experience and ask for a replacement. So I called the customer service – after a long 1 hour talk with customer service rep, followed by a conversation with his rude supervisor, I was told that Whirlpool no longer deals with A&E – that they broke their relationship with them as of June 31st, 2014. I failed to understand why that was my fault. I was told they need to send technician from another company – can you guess the company whirlpool recommended? It would be funny, if it wasn’t incredibly painful to deal with horrible customer support representatives – yes, it was the the no-show company J&H. I told him I’d have nothing to do with J&H. So they recommended their only other option – a company called AGO.
AGO technicians started showing up at my house since early July and I waited with baited breath for them to suggest a way forward to a resolution. Well good thing that I didn’t hold my breath for that to happen. AGO technicians have made 8-9 visits to my home during July and August with the last visit being on Aug 20th. They replaced all the boards that A&E guys had already replaced the previous month. On August 21st, I received a call from AGO rep saying that they have given up – that the product is irreparable. They gave me a reference number and asked me to call Whirlpool for a final resolution.
I called Whirlpool customer service on August 22, 2014 and Spoke to Jennifer and her supervisor for 32 minutes. They wanted to restart the whole process of sending technicians to my home. It would be funny if they hadn’t stolen $2700 of my hard earned money + all the lost hours and productivity + vacation time lost + headache they caused + the pain of not having a working Oven/Microwave in our kitchen + dealing with rude “customer service” reps, I lost it. I threatened to put the whole recorded conversation on YouTube. The rude inconsiderate supervisor hung up on me.
I called back after a few minutes and spoke with a tad bit more reasonable rep named Ashley. At least, she had the patience to hear me out without barking at me about what my rights are as a customer. Well she had no better solution than to suggest another technician appointment – what was the excuse this time? That the last technician from AGO didn’t call Whirlpool’s tech support line while he was at my house. As if that is my fault. I agreed and we setup an appointment for Wednesday, August 27, 2014 between 8AM and 12PM with the same old company J&H who no showed me once. Goes to show you who Whirlpool’s associates in business are. They had only two companies providing repair services in San Jose – AGO and J&H.
I took the morning off from work on Aug 27, 2014 and waited till 12 noon and there was no sign of technician. So I called Whirlpool customer service number one more time. As you would expect by now, a rude customer service person named Eva from Michigan picked up my call. It was reasonably clear to me during that conversation that the J&H technician no-showed because appointment was not communicated to them. She emphatically claimed that my warranty is not a product replacement warranty but a “repair” warranty and that she needs to send me a technician to take a look at the product. Can anyone believe it? She told me I have only one option either to accept the perpetual technician visits or she will note that I have rejected their offer to service the product. I told her I am not rejecting anything, just exploring all my options. She assured me I had no other options. The arrogance of these people!
So here I am, several thousand of my hard earned money stolen by Whirlpool and I still have no working product. Adding insult to injury, 2 weeks ago I received a letter from Whirlpool pitching me to extend my 3 year extended warranty to 5 years. They want to inflict more pain and charge you for the privilege.
I have more options than Eva would want me to know. Luckily I have legal coverage under my benefit plans at work. Even more importantly there is social media and internet. I am pursuing those options at the moment.
Here’s the summary:
Lowes takes my $2700 on March 13th.
I get the Wall Oven delivered and installed on March 27th.
A total of at least 15 repair visits are made to my home between first week of
March May and August 21 ( I have started losing count)
Time since product purchase: > 5 months
# of times the oven has worked : 0
Hours spent talking to rude customer service reps: 4-6 hours
Time spent at home baby sitting repair technicians : > 100 hours
Lowes, Inc washed their hand stating 30 day money back guarantee is over. Its customer service people were not of any help either.
UPDATE – 9/15/14
Within a few hours of publishing this post (on 9/2/14), I was contacted by both Lowes and Whirlpool via Twitter. Both the companies seemed genuinely interested in resolving this issue. After I DMed my appliance and contact information via twitter, Melanie from Whirlpool called me and left me a voicemail on Wednesday, Sep 3rd, 2014 informing that they have decided to replace the oven. I was told in that voicemail that I should expect a call from Whirlpool on the details of the exchange before end of day on Friday (Sep 5th). I was contacted by Lowes and I informed the Lowes rep that Whirlpool has agreed to replace my oven.
I thought I would really be able to make a single update to the post informing the world that Whirlpool really made amends and tried to hard to correct the failures of the past. It is 9/15/14 today and I haven’t received any updates from Whirlpool about the how/when of the exchange. I made 2 customer service calls to Whirlpool last week. I was unable to speak to Melanie the first time, but did speak with another rep. She told me she will pass the information on to Melanie and ask her to contact me. She connected me to Melanie’s voicemail and I left her a voicemail. Melanie’s voicemail greetings suggested that I also contact her via Whirlpool’s customer service email for faster response. So I did that too.
On Thursday 12:37PM pacific, I received a call from Melanie. She had no useful information to share with me. She is waiting for some paper pusher to do his/her job and could not make any promises as to when it will be resolved. My “file” is stuck in one of Whirlpool’s many bureaucratic bottlenecks. This is no personal indictment of Melanie – it is just evidence that Whirlpool’s is not serious about customer satisfaction. My experience is not isolated as evidenced not just by this event but also by the number of people ranting on their social media handles. Here was an opportunity to rectify its mistake and win the confidence of a customer back and so far Whirlpool seems to be uninterested in any such thing.
IMPORTANT UPDATE (9/16/14): Please share this story via your social media handles. It is important to hold these people accountable for their actions. It is also important that we inform consumer about the perils of doing business with these organizations. Thank you very much.
UPDATE (9/17/14): Whirlpool’s customer support’s twitter moniker is @WhirlpoolCare. LOL. They could have demonstrated care by resolving customer issues, instead they removed my permission to post to their Facebook Page. WhirlpoolCare indeed.
I will be handling this mostly through Twitter – follow me at https://twitter.com/subhiandrews. I will be using hashtag #whirlpoolsux going forward. I would request that you do the same. Thank you.
Coming soon – https://www.facebook.com/WhirlpoolCare and if you have artistic skills in graphics. I am looking for images that will represent the #
whirlpoolsux #customerdisserviceexperts horror story
UPDATE (9/18/14): Whirlpool so far has broken all its deadlines and promises and has not bother to contact me for more than a week. Today I called Whirlpool customer service and spoke to Angie. She told me that everything has been approved and its just that Tameka has not contacted me with the details (Talk about caring for a customer with a broken unusable product). Angie promised to send Tameka an email and that Tameka will call me within 24 hours. And that 24 hours ends at 10:27AM pacific tomorrow. Will they keep their promise this time? Do they even pretend to care? We will find out soon enough.
UPDATE (9/19/14): Whirlpool kept this small promise, for a change. At 9AM this morning I received a call from Beth at Whirlpool to inform me that they have approved my exchange. It will be handled through Lowes and I will have to wait for another call from Lowes in the next 7-14 days. Not sure if Whirlpool and Lowes will go back to their old dirty habit of jerking their customers around. My trust of these companies are at zero. Let’s see if they can redeem some of that trust by giving me a positive surprise.