Whirlpool Informative - Product Recall
OMAHA, NEBRASKA -- COULD YOU PLEASE, PLEASE HELP US?
This complaint is in regard to the Whirlpool Gold Microwave oven recall that was announced on Oct 16, 2001. Many of us (that we know of) have these microwaves and have contacted Whirlpool. We are trying to get enough publicity to find out how many more of us out there feel that this recall is a joke.
When you call Whirlpool to report your microwave, here is what happens and what they tell you:
1. Please unplug it and give them your promise that you will not use it until it has been fixed (no matter how long that is).
2. Do you have access to a microwave? If you say no, they rattle off the next part so fast but it sounds like they are telling you that within 2 weeks you'll be receiving a $100 comp check so you can go purchase a new microwave. You can then keep the microwave as a gift from Whirlpool.
3. Please be patient, patient and more patient as this will take at least 4-6 weeks to be fixed. (They de-emphasize the word at least). Afterall, it's only been 2 weeks since they announced it.
They again make you promise, promise and promise not to use the microwave.
Okay, as a consumer being told this information you would think 'I'm not overly happy about this but they're trying and they're sending me a $100 check for my time.
If this was how this recall was really working, it would be frustrating but you would make do with it. However, it's what they're not telling you that makes this recall terribly misleading.
When you ask questions, they try to change the subject and unless you ask them 3 or 4 times, they will not answer it.
1. They are making it sound like it's only been a week (now two) since they realized this. False.
It's been two weeks since they announced it. However, they reported lower 3rd quarter earnings ending September 30, 2001 because of this recall. How would this affect their sales if according to them they only really found out about it in October? The fact is that in their public SEC filing 10-Q report they admit that they reached an agreement with the Consumer Product Safety Commision on September 24, 2001. Nebraska Furniture Mart claims that they pulled these models from the shelves more than 2 months ago. Therefore, they have had over 2 months to put a plan of action together.
2. The $100 check they make you think that they are sending you is really a claim form that you are going to receive within the next 2 weeks. If you go out and spend more of your own money to buy a microwave, you can submit the receipt and the claim form and they will re-imburse you up to $100.
When I asked them how long it would take for the reimbursement, I was told 'they didn't know.'
3. When you reaffirm that your microwave will be fixed in 4-6 weeks they repeat at least 4-6 weeks. They tell you it will take that long for a service person to contact everyone and to get out and fix the microwaves. Okay. Question: If you don't know what the problem is and how you're going to fix it yet, how are you going to fix it within 4-6 weeks? Answer: they're not. It will be 4-6 weeks after they figure out what the problem is and how to fix it. They won't give you a time frame as to how long that is going to take. Therefore, if it takes 3 months to determine the problem and the necessary corrective actions, you will be without your microwave for 5-6 months!
The Consumer Product Safety Act Section 15 is fairly specific in recall procedures. The act states: (short version)
When a product defect creates a substantial risk of injury to the public (There have already been at least 7 fires. I think this qualifies)
The Commision may order the mfr, etc of the product to take one of more of the following actions:
1. give public notice of the defect or failure to comply
2. mail notice to each person who is a mfr, districutor or retailer.
3. mail notice to every person to whom the person required to give notice knows such product was delivered or sold. (We registered these microwaves. Why weren't we notified by mail. Only 1 out of several of us have seen this is the news. Last Saturday, Oct 27, Whirlpool sent me a solicitation to extend the warranty on my refrigerator which was purchased at the same time. They have my address!)
it may order the mfr to take whichever of the actions it elects:
1. To bring such product into conformity
2. To replace such product
3. To refund the purchase price of the product.
Electing to make the repair is the easiest and most cost effective for the company, but how long should they be entitled to have if they don't know what the problem is.
The act further states that no charge shall be made to any person who avails himself of any remedy provided under an order issued and the person subject to the order shal reimburse each person who is entitled to such a remedy for any reasonable and foreseeable expenses.
They're willing to 'reimburse' us up to a $100 purchase price. What about sales tax and interest. Afterall, I'm not a banker and they are making me incur additional expenses because they gave me a product which catches fire. Incidentally, mine has already had two fires.
Today, I spoke with Bonnie from Whirlpool's customer service. She called me after I posted a complaint on the internet and it was forwarded to Whirlpool. She assured me that they do know what the problem is. When I asked her what it was, she told me that only their engineers knew because it was so technical they couldn't explain it! I asked her what they were doing then since they knew what the problem was and should be scheduling repairs. She told me 'they were testing the remedy to make sure it would last the life of the product.' I asked her how they were going to 'life test' something in a few days or a month to see if it would last years? Of course, it was too technical for her to explain.
Does any of this make sense to you? It doesn't to us.
Most people affected by this recall think they're getting a $100 check in two weeks and their microwave is going to be fixed within 6 weeks. A clever strategy by Whirlpool. It's worded so vaguely that it flys right over your head unless you listen to each individual word. Therefore, they can say they didn't lie to you, they told you this. Also, it helps to finance their business because they are still earning interest on all those $100 checks they're going to eventually reimburse us for. Of course, if they are requiring you to purchase a Whirlpool replacement microwave (and I don't know if this is the case, they wouldn't answer me) it helps boost their current sales. Finally, it buys them 6 weeks of silence because consumers are expecting to wait 6 weeks. Only after 6 weeks will Whirlpool's phone start ringing off the hook with terribly angry customers. They don't have to deal with it until then.
Regardless of whether this complies with federal 'safety' laws this can't possibly comply with 'contract' law. They've had my money for some time, gave me a dangerous product, tell me I can't use it, don't know what's wrong with it or when it will be fixed and want me to spend some more money to buy them some more time. I don't think so!
We have already contacted an attorney.
We are looking for as many consumers who would like to join us as possible. There is no cost or obligation. If you would like to join our growing group, please e-mail me at DMoser1962@aol.com. If you have already spoken with Whirlpool, please include the details of the conversation. If you have not spoken to Whirlpool yet, please contact us first.
Refund the purchase price or replace the unit if it has not been repaired within the 6 week time frame.