Francie Latham of Arvada, Colo., thought she’d found the perfect fridge – a sleek side-by-side model from Home Depot for just under $1,800. Just to be safe, she also bought an extended warranty. But when the fridge started acting up – spitting ice cubes that even hit her in the face – Francie had a hard time getting that extended warranty to work.
Read Francie’s original letter to the ABC News Fixer below, and see how The Fixer helped get this resolved. Also, check out The Fixer’s tips on home appliance warranties.
Dear ABC News Fixer: We purchased a refrigerator from Home Depot in June 2013. It cost just under $1,800, and we also bought Home Depot’s extended warranty for three years for $90.
After the manufacturer’s one-year warranty expired, we started having trouble with the ice maker. It would shoot ice out of the freezer across the room. It would also not turn off and we had a water leak in the freezer.
I called to have it repaired under the extended warranty. Over the past six months, we have had about a half-dozen repair visits and at least four ice makers replaced, and it’s still not working correctly.
Now Home Depot says there’s nothing more that they can do – and that if I empty all the ice every night, it is fixed.
I need a reliable refrigerator because my husband had a stem cell transplant to save his life and we need to keep some of his meds either frozen or cold. It is hard when you don't know if you can.
Can you help?
-Francie Latham, Avada, Colo.
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Dear Francie: You told The ABC News Fixer that this fridge was so crazy, even the repair guys called it “possessed.” You said they they jokingly suggested performing an exorcism on the thing.
Beside pelting you in the face and chest with ice, you said the fridge would spew ice out of the dispenser onto the floor and make so much ice the freezer would fill up with cubes. Other times, there’d be no ice at all … followed by an avalanche days later.
And as you mentioned, the ice annoyance would be bad enough, but you really needed a dependable refrigerator to store some of your husband’s medicines, which need to be kept cold or frozen. So this was no small matter.
The problems started about nine months after the manufacturer’s one-year warranty had ended. But you had your three-year extended warranty from Home Depot and they did send out repair techs several times, though the problems kept coming back.
After six months of this, you got some bad news. You said a Home Depot rep told you that the manufacturer suggested that if you empty out all the ice every night, the problem would be fixed, and no more repairs would be necessary. You argued that this was not a practical solution – what if you needed to leave the house for a few days? – but they wouldn’t budge.
That’s when you came to The ABC News Fixer.
Your extended warranty was still in effect and the fridge still wasn’t fixed. We explained to this to Home Depot and they were able to escalate your issue. They investigated and decided to give you a full refund so you can go buy a new fridge. They also gave you a $100 gift card to make up for the hassle.
Home Depot said that while they are proud of their warranty coverage – and the plan coverage is pretty good, The Fixer found – they agreed that this should have been handled better: “We appreciate the opportunity to make it right.”
So we’re glad your freaky fridge problem is finally fixed.
Though “Poltergeist 4: The Fridge” would have been an interesting movie.
The Fixer gets a lot of questions about warranties for home appliances, mostly from consumers who want to know if they’re worth buying. Here’s the scoop on warranties:
First, know the lingo. Everything you buy has an implied warranty automatically, which means that you the consumer have the right to expect the item to be free from defects. In some states, this can be negated if the item is sold “as-is,” so be careful when you buy something with that designation.
Then there are manufacturer’s warranties. These are included with the purchase at no charge. They can vary in length of coverage, but for a large appliance like a refrigerator they usually last about one year. If the item breaks down within that time, you can go to the manufacturer for a resolution.
And then there are extended warranties, also known as service plans, which are usually sold by the retailer at check out. These last typically three to five years and take over after the manufacturer’s warranty is done.
So are extended warranties worth the price? It depends on the item and the coverage. If the item is well-made with a history of few complaints, consumer experts say you should forget the extended warranty. The argument goes like this: If it’s a lemon, it will probably break down while the free manufacturer’s warranty is still in effect, and if it’s well-made, it will break down after the extended warranty ends. The advice is to save the money and use it in case you need a minor repair.
However, if you’re worried that the item could break and if the plan offers good coverage at a low price, then go for it. Some things to consider in the extended warranty’s terms and conditions:
- How long is the warranty in effect?
- Does it cover any repair?
- Does it cover accidental damage?
- Is there a service fee to get a repair?
- Do you have to perform regular maintenance to keep the plan in effect?
Wading through the fine print for those answers will tell you whether it’s worth buying that warranty.
-The ABC News Fixer