Thursday, August 16, 2007

In a Spin

At the end of last April (2007) I bought a Whirlpool Duet Sport washer and dryer. They were delivered (by my request) in mid-May and went into service at the end of May when my modest kitchen remodel was finished. On August 9 the washer refused to spin, leaving the half-done laundry a sodden mass. I called Whirlpool and, after spending some time in voice jail, was given a list of factory authorized service providers to call for in-warranty repair. The list had one name on it, A&E Factory Service of Santa Ana. I called A&E and was told that a technician would be out on August 14 (5 days) between 1 and 5 p.m. The technician turned up at 9 a.m. and extricated this (just the black spaghetti, not the white cat) from the back of the washer (no mean feat--it is stacked under the dryer in a laundry closet):

A new belt was ordered on an "emergency" basis (why, when A&E had the model and serial numbers of the washer and the information that it would not spin, and 5 days to prepare, the technician did not come equipped with the proper belt I don't know) and I was set up with another appointment (August 24--13 days without a washer). As he packed up to leave, the technician held up the shredded belt as if it were a rotting dead thing and announced: "This would never happen to a Maytag."
Well, I'm afraid it already has. Whirlpool bought Maytag (and closed all the original Maytag plants in Iowa) in 2006 after the Justice Department agreed that the merger, which resulted in one company making 70% of the washers and dryers in the US, "would not reduce competition substantially." Whirlpool appliance brands now include Maytag, Amana, KitchenAid, Jenn-Air, Inglis, Estate, Roper, Magic Chef and Gladiator, making Whirlpool, its webpage announces "a compelling company," with "a spirit of winning that is unmatched in the industry." Or what's left of it. I don't really care whether my washer wins--I just want it to spin.

Edit: Oh, dear. A little googling of A&E (owned, it turns out, by Sears) tells me I am in the hands of scoundrels. See this, and this, and this, and this and this . . .

Update and Word to the Wise:It turns out there are other companies Whirlpool will pay to do warranty work. Here's what happens: you call Whirlpool's "Customer eXperience" number--I can see why they can't call it customer service or customer assistance. After pushing some buttons, you get a recording telling you here is a list of service providers in your area. The list begins with A&E. Then there's a long pause. Then the recording asks, "do you want me to connect you with A&E?" Well, I guess so. But if you've already been burned and stay on the line, there is another long pause, and they start rattling off other repair places in alphabetical order (in which A&E would not be first). The first one I was able to make out was Appliance Doctor, about 2 miles away, and they are scheduled to come tomorrow morning. Appliance Doc and I commiserated a bit about how Whirlpool sticks it to both customers and independent repair operations.

Final Update: It's 9:24 am August 17 (7 days before my next A&E appointment; 1 day after I called Appliance Doctor) and the washer is fixed. Live and learn and do laundry.

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