Garrett is as Garrett does

An autoblogographic view of things.

'Garrett is as Garrett does'

Whirlpool, Maytag, or A&E Factory Service – which to loathe more…

September 8th, 2012
by garrett

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It was April 2010 and the State of Florida had instituted a 20% rebate program if consumers purchased Energy Star compliant appliances – with up to a $75 refund per appliance for proof of recycling. The rebate/refund program website was absolutely slammed and if reports are to be believed, Florida went through the entire budgeted amount in less than 36 hours of the 9 day window. All said and done I was able to replace a washing machine, a clothes dryer, two room air conditioners, and a dishwasher with brand spanking new, still-in-the-box energy-conserving models for about 45-50% off retail. Go me.

Of course I’m not here to pat myself on the back, I’m here to grumble.

The issues with the washing machine (Maytag Bravos MVWB300WQ1 Type 580) will be another post, but for now let’s focus on the dishwasher – a Maytag (MDB7609AWW2 Type 577-0) – and the service provided (or not) by A&E Factory Services. Now A&E Factory Services is owned 40/60 by Sears/Whirlpool. Note also, that Whirlpool bought Maytag in 2005. Seeing a trend yet?

For the past 4 months the wife and I have noticed that the cleaning power of the dishwasher has be slowly dropping. Used to be that if you just waved a dirty dish near the dishwasher it was as good as the day you unpacked from Crate & Barrel. But the decline in cleaning power finally climaxed in two and a half hours of anemic water sloshing noises, leaving the top rack dishes barely wet and still greasy from the previous night’s cheese-heavy pasta dinner.

Anybody with a hint of repair experience or mechanically inclined has guessed what the issue is by now – a clogged filter somewhere is reducing the water pump’s pressure to ‘sub-optimal’ levels. So naturally I spend a good hour trying not to break my 2-year old dishwasher while trying to figure out where the filter is and how to clean that filter that surely must be clogged somewhere. Some Googling led me to the sump area, but with no obvious way to get into it, I admitted defeat and had the wife call Maytag.

They were friendly enough to set up an appointment ‘block’ for the following Saturday in the 8am – 12pm range. Uugh. At 0800 hrs on Saturday I need to be ready to accept a guest into my home. Fast-forwarding past the work to get the house to not look like something from the latest A&E intervention show, 8am comes and goes with no service-person. The waiting game continues until about 11:00am, when the wife calls A&E to see if we will be getting a visit at all. She is informed that the service-person will call before they arrive to confirm, so please be patient…

Eventually the service person calls, confirms, and finally arrives at about 11:15 am.. He’s escorted to the scene of the non-washing dishwasher, I explain the issue while he nodded and made affirmative noises. He made a few suggestions and after providing him with 4 coffee cups so he could test the washer, I left him to his work and went onto the other room to watch some TV.

About twenty minutes later, after much slooshing and whirring and “thump-kathunk”s later, he gives me the bad news, he cleaned the filters he was ‘able’ to, but there most be something deep in the sump assembly. His estimate of what it would take to fix it was almost exactly twice what I paid for the original scratch-and-dent dishwasher I installed in 2007 as part of the kitchen renovation that the current one replaced. I thank him for his efforts, make payment arrangements and, as I close the door behind him, my tired acceptance of yet another thing going wrong starts twisting and seething in my gut.

Furious that I would have to buy another dishwasher, I pulled the dish-non-washer from under the sink and set it up in my workshop to tinker on. Once up on my bench, I started pulling it apart, focusing on the sump area. I find a screw that is accessible from inside the tub and lo-and-behold, I find the problem. The chopper blade had come off the shaft assembly – especially easy to do when it is only a friction fit. That in turn allowed the filter screen to become clogged leaving the pump just enough water to not burnout.

I cleaned the screen, reattached the chopper blade, reassembled the sump assembly, then installed my dishwasher again. I plugged it in – there were no sparks, nor smoke, nor the all-too-familiar sound of popping breakers and the following darkness. I ran a normal cycle and the water was everywhere inside the tub and none on the ground. The wife ran a full load of dishes and they came out great, no murky water, no food particles, just clean dishes. I had fixed it! I was elated (if a little sore).

But I could feel my bile rising again.

Ultimately, had the service-person spent another 35 seconds, 5 seconds to actually look into the sump area he exposed and another 30 seconds to remove the only other accessible service screw – he would have seen the real problem. Fixing it for a ‘professional’ would have been a 15 minute job – instead I was quoted another full-price visit charge and a new sump assembly for $380.

Which leads me to one of two conclusions: That the service-person was that ignorant, which means A&E did not send an actual service-person, just some guy in a jumpsuit OR the service-person was explicitly not performing the repair in an attempt to defraud us. Either way, we’re not paying for non-service.

We stopped payment immediately thereafter. The only other check I’ve every needed to put a stop payment order on was over 20 years ago when I fell for an employer recruiter scam. Somehow history does repeat itself…

[Update 2012-09-27: The wife has spent over 4 hours on the phone trying to find someone to explain why we are not paying them. The saga continues….]

[Update 2012-11-16: After another 8 hours on the phone with the wife, they finally called my cell phone to demand full payment plus a ‘stopped payment’ fee – only after which they would consider returning about half of it. Remind me never to deal with Maytag, Whirlpool, or A&E Factory Services again…]




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