A&E Factory Service Complaint - Poor Business Practices, Delinquent Refund, Gross Overcharge
DOWNEY, CALIFORNIA -- In mid-January I called Whirlpool and requested the name and telephone number of an authorized repair service for my two year old Whirlpool Cabrio Automatic Washer (an $1,000. top-of-the-line washer – the one year factory warranty had expired – and the lights were flashing, it would not complete a cycle, etc.).
Note: I have learned the local neighbor repairmen are not normally trained to service these computerized appliances. Further, the trained technicians don’t appear to have much experience since the appliances are fairly new to the market.
I was referred to A&E Factory Service. The first service call was on 1/17/09. The technician was friendly, had his lap-top and all the impressive toys. After inspecting the washer, attempting to run a cycle, reading the manual, calling his in-house technician…he determined it needed a new interface control board ($337. part and labor). He ordered the part to be delivered to my home and scheduled a return visit to install the part. (I also signed up for a 3-year extended warranty after his scary stories of all the things that could go wrong with the appliance = $172., it would not become effective until after the machine was repaired) Within 4 days a $414. charge was billed against my Vista, balance due upon repair.
Upon A&E Service’s return visit on 1/27/09 I notified their technician I wanted to keep the part he was going to remove and replace. He said ‘they’ want the part returned. I asked who ‘they’ were. He hesitated and responded, Whirlpool. I stated, I paid for the part when I purchased the machine. If ‘they’ want it back, ‘they’ can make me an offer. He said he would check his computer he see if the part was required to be returned. We didn’t discuss the return of the part again.
He installed the part, there was no improvement in the machine’s operation. The technician then determined the initial part was not the problem, rather a part costing more than twice as much was required.
I was not willing to invest $557.49 (part and labor) in a two year old washer which is not extensively used (it’s only a two person household). I expressed my concern to the technician. He subsequently called his supervisor. A refund of $344.32 was authorized. I was required to pay for a $70. service call. The technician took all parts and packaging.
I was concerned with the quality of my Whirlpool washer and called Whirlpool on 1/28/09 to express my disappointment that a two year old washer would require a $557.49 repair. I learned the part their authorized dealer (A&E Service) was charging $362.58 (plus $29.91 tax) for listed for $161.81 (if Whirlpool retails the part for $161., I assume their authorized dealers would be able to purchase it at a reduced cost – does that mean, A&E Service marks up their parts over 400%). Whirlpool called A&E Service to confirm the part number I had been given was correct. It was! I also told Whirlpool about the ‘they’ want the used part back story. The Whirlpool person I spoke to was unaware of the policy.
I called A&E Service to further inquire about the cost of the part. The only telephone number I had was the number I used to schedule the service. They could provide NO information. I called directory assistance and requested a number based on the business card given to me by the technician – no number was listed. I requested a number based on the address on their receipts – no number was listed. They didn’t exist!
I called Whirlpool back and requested the number they had used to verify the part number. On 1/28/09 using the new number I spoke to a couple of people and finally to Francis, supervisor (1-800-771-3029), to no avail. She said she would request a Customer Relations representative call me (I never received a call back – so I still don’t know if the price was a mistake or they if they inflated the price because I had purchased an extended warranty and they knew this was their last chance for three years to get more money from me – I can’t get anyone to discuss the situation with me). During my conversation with Francis, she did confirm a refund of $344.32 was being processed.
I called again in early February to confirm the refund was being processed – it was confirmed.
On 2/25/09 I called A&E Service and Patrice confirmed the refund was being processed. She did say the hold-up may be that I never called to give them my credit card number. I responded I had given my credit card to their technician on 1/17/09 and 1/27/09, there had been no delay in billing the initial $414.32, how would I know I had to call – they must have the number, and if they didn’t why wasn’t the number requested in earlier conversations or why didn’t they call me? She said she would request a Billing Department representative call me.
On 2/26/09 I spoke to Adela, A&E Service, Billing Dept. (1-800-821-1417). She requested my Vista number. I asked all the ‘why’ questions again – to no avail. I gave her the number and she stated the credit may be posted as early as 2/28/09 to my Vista account. On 3/3/09, after no action from A&E Service, I filed a billing dispute with Vista against A&E Service. A&E Service finally credited my account on 3/6/09 (38 days after the refund was authorized, after several calls initiated by me and I don’t know if Vista took any action – Vista’s policy allows merchants to take up to 30 days to credit a customer after the refund is authorized).
When I initially called Whirlpool, they immediately offered me the needed part 50% off their list price (approximately $80. with a no return policy). They were very helpful and courteous to work with.
I requested additional authorized service dealers in my area. I was given Dockstader Service, Whittier, CA (562 – 696-1184). I called and requested the price of a control board. I was quoted $161.81 --- great an honest repair service! He asked how I knew that was the part I needed. I shared my story. He suggested I obtain the part from Whirlpool at a lesser price and he would come out and install the part for just the cost of the service call $74. since it would only take minutes to install.
I called Whirlpool back and after talking to several persons, I was transferred to Andy, Consumer Relations. I explained my experience with their authorized dealer, A&E Service – who I considered a Whirlpool representative since they referred me to them. The fact I had paid $70. and still had a non-functional two year old top-of-the-line washer, the first part A&E Service said I needed didn’t work – how did I know their second suggested part would work, if I paid $80 to Whirlpool for the non-refundable second part and $74. to have it installed, I could be out $224. and still need a new washer. I requested Whirlpool to give me the control board at no cost based on my frustration level and the fact I had spend one complete day on the phone attempting to resolve this situation. Andy generously agreed to immediately ship me the part at no cost. I received it within a couple of days. Dockstader Service immediately came out and installed the part for a mere $74. THANK YOU Whirlpool and Dockstader.