Dear ABC News Fixer: Down the Dishwasher Whirlpool

PHOTO: Dirty dishes fill the sink.

Dear ABC News Fixer: I purchased a KitchenAid dishwasher on Jan. 24 for $1,039.95. Upon installation this dishwasher did not work. I tried to return it to the appliance store, but they would not take it back because it was already installed.

I called KitchenAid/Whirlpool on Jan. 25. They told me that Whirlpool also does not accept returns, and that my warranty only provides repairs. So, on Feb. 1, their repair service came out and replaced the control panel and the pump and motor.

Something was still wrong, however. We realized our dishwasher was damaging our wood floor in early April. On April 23, the repair service returned and found that the tub was bent. The repair guy ordered nine parts, including a new tub, an inner door, new door hinges, a seal and several gaskets. I was told to not use my dishwasher. On May 28, it was finally repaired -- three repair technicians rebuilt my entire dishwasher on my kitchen floor.

The problem is that now, my "fixed" dishwasher is louder than a new dishwasher. One reason I picked this particular model was because it was quiet. I am not a happy customer.

In addition, during the repair, the workers accidentally spilled water on my laptop, damaging it.

I think the no-return policy is bad for retailers and customers. My dishwasher is a lemon and it should have been replaced when it did not work out of the box. My wasted time, my damaged floor and my ruined laptop are all due to this policy.

- Julie Lusher, Arlington, Va.

Dear Julie: You make a good argument, which is that at a certain point, after so many repair calls and parts ordered and the labor involved to install the new parts, it would have been cheaper to just scrap the dud dishwasher and give you a new one. Which is what Whirlpool, the maker of KitchenAid, ended up doing after the ABC News Fixer brought them your tale of woe.

After we explained what happened, including the part about the worker knocking over the vase of water and soaking your laptop, Whirlpool jumped on this right away. They told you the machine should have been declared DOA from the start, and they've authorized a new dishwasher of the same model for you. They're also giving you claim forms for the damage to the computer and your wood floors.

For other consumers with appliance problems: It's important to call the manufacturer ASAP under the warranty and document everything, as Julie did. Read the policy carefully; some companies will replace an item that has three identical failures within the warranty period.

As for extended warranties, the conventional wisdom from Consumer Reports is that they're a sucker's bet, meaning the cost of the warranty is about the same as a repair (and you might never need the repair). However, some consumers still want to pay for peace of mind. If you're thinking about buying an extended warranty, make sure you consider the total cost, and be aware of what is and is not covered, whether you'll have to pay to ship the product for repairs and whether it overlaps with the standard warranty.

- The ABC News Fixer

Got a consumer problem? The ABC News Fixer may be able to help. Click here to submit your problem online. Letters are edited for length and clarity.

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