So What’s Wrong with American Business?

© ip568@charter.net

2 June 2011

As manufacturing in the U.S. moves offshore, we can at least count upon our service industry to take up the slack, right.

Wrong.

Recently, I bought a new Frigidaire refrigerator/freezer. Top of the line, I was assured by the appliance store salesman. $ 1800 worth. They delivered it and took my old, dead refer away. Two days later… the unit started turning itself off and on by itself. Worse, the control panel was dead. Also, while it was running, the ice maker would make some ice, stop, and then melt all the ice so that water ran out of the ice dispenser and flooded the kitchen.

Not happy, with a freezer-full of food melting, I called the appliance store. To their credit, they immediately brought me a loaner, which beautified my dining room’s wood floor. Unfortunately, Frigidaire requires all new appliances to be serviced by A&E Factory Repair, their one particular repair company. The first time they could come would be in another week.

On the appointed day (I lost a day’s work waiting for them to show), A&E called me. Sort of. I got a RoboCall informing me that, “Good morning. The repair appointment you have scheduled today with A&E Factory Repair, to be held between 7:00AM and 12:00PM ……is rescheduled to … *click.*” It hung up on me. I then tried calling A&E at their 800 number. First call: on hold, then disconnected. Second call: on hold longer, then disconnected. Third call (and now no longer in the best of moods): on hold, then a real, live person. We discussed the situation. They were sorry for my trouble. They said they would call the technician, who was “running late,” and have him call me with the new time.

Several hours later I had heard nothing. Called A&E again. Same reply.

Several hours later, still no response. Called A&E again. “The technician will call you soon.” Time passes, no call.

At about 4:30PM, I received a call from the technician. The repair center had just contacted him for the first time several minutes before. He was on the way and expected to be at my place within 30 minutes.

Sure enough, he arrived at 5:00PM. A pleasant young guy, he plugged his laptop into the refer and… couldn’t make any sense of the error code. First time he’d ever seen it. So he called the Frigidaire service center and discussed. The code means the various circuit boards in the refer weren’t talking to one another, so the control panel was useless; the unit turned itself off and on when it felt like it. Solution? They didn’t have one. They suggested he replace the circuit boards and perhaps the control panel but couldn’t say if this would repair the unit. Sort of "swap and see" servicing.

At this point, my wife, who had been building a head of steam for the past week, got on the phone with Frigidaire and read them the riot act. In Massachusetts, you have 30 days to return any defective new appliance. She demanded a new one. More talk between the tech and Frigidaire. Oops! Frigidaire discontinued this model after the first year (we did not know until that moment that we’d purchased a “new” discontinued model that had been sitting in a warehouse for X years.)

To be fair, Frigidaire then tried to get us a replacement and have promised us one tomorrow. Meanwhile, we have a $1800 white elephant sitting in the kitchen, with a small loaner in the dining room. I secured the water line, so no more kitchen flooding. We have had a total of four refer trundles into or out of our house so far and the new arrival plus the final loaner removal have yet to occur (not counting having to take all our frozen food down into the basement freezer and then back-up again).

Yes, this has been an anecdotal experience with the U.S.’s manufacturing and service industries, but the experience has been unsatisfactory. The replacement should be coming tomorrow…

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Update!

6 June 2011

The replacement refrig arrived on schedule and the loaner was taken-away, the woodwork the worse for wear. The new refer stays cold -- but the water and ice dispenser don't work. My wife went ballistic; the store owner is gonna be looking-up for weeks the names she called him. Loading and unloading refrigerators and freezers six time was not a high-light for either of us.

So, we are on the phone again, being tag-teamed by Frigidaire, the repair shop, and the store. The store owner doesn't want to talk to us anymore. Within the next week or two, a local repair shop is coming to see what is the matter with the new refer...

Update!

8 August 2011

As of today, A&E Repair has been to my house five times to repair the new Frigidaire refrigerator and it is still broken. Don't get me wrong; it's never the same problem. After having to swap-out the new refrigerator, we finally got one that does not randomly turn itself off. Then the door wouldn't close. Then the door front water dispenser wouldn't work. After being taken almost completely apart, we found that the water line was wrongly installed "with a twist" in Mexico. The latest is that the ice maker simply stopped working, and instead, drools water onto the floor. Keep in mind that this started as a new frig bought in May. So, next week A&E will be making repair call #6 at my place.

And the Adventure Continues ... (cue Star Trek theme)...