With the coronavirus pandemic still ongoing and businesses continuing to adapt to the limitations the virus is putting on society, homeowners are struggling with an all-too common problem: what to do if an appliance breaks.
One such homeowner is Jolie Jimenez of Chicago, who says she was thrilled with her new Frigidaire refrigerator, which set her back around $2,200. That happiness was short-lived however, because after just three weeks, a mysterious noise began.
“It was just making this really loud noise and I opened it and it just sounded like, I don't know how to explain it. Like a loud motorcycle in my home,” she told NBC5 Responds.
Jolie says the noise frequently awoke both her and her husband in the middle of the night, as well as their dog, Bambina. She first reached out to Home Depot, where she made the purchase. There, she says, customer service told her the retailer could not help; she would have to work with the refrigerator maker to get the loud noise fixed.
Jolie then says she allowed four repair techs sent by manufacturer Electrolux (parent company of Frigidaire) to visit her home in February and early March, but that was before the coronavirus and stay-at-home recommendations hit Chicago.
"They want to keep sending techs to my home, and I said I'm very sorry but at this moment, I myself, I don't I don't know what to expect. I'm scared to bring someone into my home we don't know who these techs are... so I'm just going to hold off for now," Jolie said.
Jolie says she asked both Home Depot and Electrolux to swap out the troubled appliance for a new one, but both refused. That’s when she reached to NBC5 Responds to inquire about her rights as a customer saddled with an expensive- and troubled— new appliance.
In response to our questions, Home Depot said the repair questions were best directed to the appliance maker, and then offered Jolie and her husband a gift card for “customer goodwill” and to acknowledge the inconvenience they had endured.
A spokesperson for Electrolux said the company was willing to send another repair tech, but that offer further taxed Jolie Jimenez’ patience, and her comfort level.
“They keep sending techs...each one starts from scratch, asking the same questions as the one before. And not one of them fixed the problem,” she says.
So how many tech visits are too many- especially during a pandemic? We asked non-profit Consumers’ Checkbook, which recently took on this issue in a new report.
“If they have to come back more than once, that's too many times,” Consumers’ Checkbook Executive Editor Kevin Brasler told NBC5. “They should be able to on during their first visit diagnose what the problem is and get it fixed."
Brasler questions why any major company is still requiring in-home diagnoses during this pandemic, and suggests working with a company that offers video chats *before* sending techs to your home.
“To make sure that they understand what the problem is, so that when they send workers out they are sending them out with the right parts,” Brasler said. “It's really important right now to choose companies wisely so you don't have this repeated visit after visit after visit to fix a problem that should have been fixed.”
Five visits in, Jolie Jimenez says she agreed to one more- and it paid off. This time, the tech agreed with the work Jolie had been using all along: defective. She has now been refunded the full purchase amount of the refrigerator.
“I'm very thankful for your help,” she told NBC 5 Responds. “I felt like you guys were there for me and you went all the way through, you kept on and kept on and kept on helping me being persistent in the same way as I was."
A spokeswoman for Electrolux responded to all of NBC5 Responds’ emails, but not our specific questions. Ultimately, she confirmed the appliance maker was working with the customer to resolve all concerns related to this matter.