AUBURN, WASHINGTON -- Ace Hardware refuses to honor an extended warranty on a motorized chainsaw I purchased from their store. Without conducting an impartial investigation into the cause of the catastrophic failure of a brand new chainsaw I purchased at their store, Ace has concluded that nothing but operator error was the cause and refuses to explain how they reached such a conclusion despite the possibility of a manufacturing defect or material flaws. I believe Ace Hardware may be engaging in consumer fraud, and I am kindly requesting your office to review my case.
The chainsaw I purchased from Ace is a “Stihl” brand, model MS251. I purchased this equipment for $359.00, not including tax. I initially wanted to purchase the smaller model, the MS170; however, the salesperson talked me into purchasing the MS251 because it is a sturdier model. Despite my reservations toward purchasing more expensive, the salesperson also talked me into purchasing an Ace extended warranty, since the chainsaw is an expensive piece of motorized equipment.
I did not use the equipment for any work – I did not even fire it up once, not a chip of wood was cut. I attempted to start it up for the first time ever on January 28, 2018. The chainsaw would not start and after approximately eight (8) attempts to start it, it began smelling of burnt rubber and I discontinued my efforts and brought it into the Ace Hardware store in Auburn, Washington, located at 308 W. Main Street, Auburn WA 98001.
I spoke to the Ace employee at the Stihl Service Desk, who looked at the chainsaw and informed me he thought I most likely “mishandled” the equipment and may have “burned out” the clutch. He insisted that I kept engaging the clutch to the point of burn out, without considering the other possibilities of equipment defect or malfunction.
Unlike my other Stihl equipment this unit took eight (8) attempts, of about 3-4 “pulls” of the chord, to start - and that was one of the first signs of trouble that could indicate a faulty unit. They did not want to consider that symptom as an indication of underlying problems - despite the fact that Stihl prides itself for quick and easy starts.
He informed me that if it was a burned out clutch it would not be covered under the warranty because it would be deemed “operator error.” He would not entertain my explanation that the clutch lever or other mechanism could be defective when I showed him that the clutch lever was in the “disengage” or OFF position on the equipment when I started it, like I do my other Stihl saws I purchased from Ace. He attempted to induce me into paying for repairs. I refused to pay for any repairs but acquiesced to paying a $50 “troubleshooting fee”, and insisted that I had not mishandled the chainsaw.
I explained exactly what I did – which was merely to attempt to start the equipment with the clutch lever in OFF, exactly according to instructions provided by the manufacturer, and exactly as they demonstrated when I purchased the product, and exactly how I start my other Stihl chainsaws for years now. The operating sequence is identical to other Stihl chainsaws I've purchased from Ace and I told the employee that I followed the same process with the clutch lever in the OFF position.
The service desk representative then told me there were “other such incidents recently” where the Stihl chainsaw catastrophically failed from a burned out clutch. When I asked for details about those “other cases,” and what the outcome was, whether the warranty covered those similar incidents, he said he was not “made aware” of the outcome of those incidents and investigations.
I left my chainsaw that day at the Ace store and told the employee I wanted him to contact the Stihl representative who was responsible for warranty determinations. I informed him that I wanted the warranty to cover a repair or I wanted Stihl or Ace Hardware to provide me with a replacement.
I received a follow up call a few days later, from “Chris,” who stated that he knew the details of the other case and that the customers were blamed by Ace for starting the chainsaw the wrong way and Ace made the customer purchase another chainsaw. My chainsaw is the same brand.
I asked “Chris” how they could make a positive determination that the manufacturer (Stihl) did not have faulty materials or mechanisms that could cause the clutch to stick in the “ON” position, regardless of the position of the lever that engages and disengages the clutch? He was not able to answer that question definitively, so he repeatedly reverted to “operator error,” which is a convenient escape from warranty responsibility.
I not only have the manufacturer's warranty, but the additional warranty Ace sold me as an “extended warranty.” Ace is now saying neither of two (2) warranties covers a brand new piece of equipment, which has never been used, against material flaws or manufacturing defects. They have concluded the catastrophic failure of my new chainsaw is a result of a single act of operator error, without providing any evidence, explanation, or rationale.
Operator error is not plausible in my case for two main reasons. 1- I've operated and I'm familiar with Stihl equipment for years and the German made equipment is very sturdily built of durable materials, barring an occasional defective part.
2 - I have 39,831 hours of documented and verifiable technical experience in aircraft maintenance over the last 22 years working for a major airline - and I'm very familiar with motorized equipment. The only way a catastrophic failure of that degree can occur in a singular moment is due to design, material, or mechanical defects - and those possibilities cannot rationally be ruled out by Ace. No one at Ace has explained how they determined the failure cannot be from design, material, or mechanism defects.
The Service manager argued that even his garden equipment mechanic, who's been doing this work for 20+ years, thinks it is operator error that I burned out the clutch—but I felt obliged to refute that by expressing that I have over 39,000 hours of documented aircraft maintenance engineering experience, during which time I have operated highly sophisticated motorized and electronic equipment - and that his judgment cannot be competing with what I know in my field, with higher equipment. After discussing the matter for a third time, with Chris, he referred me to the Ace Hardware owner, Darren Jones, as the contact point for filing a complaint.
The only thing certain at this point is that the clutch burned out. Ace cannot know for certain why the clutch did not disengage, despite the fact that the clutch lever was in the “disengage” or OFF position, which is how I start all my chainsaws I've purchased from Ace since 2015.
If the equipment that Ace sold me is so delicate that it fails before even using it then there is some type of manufacturing or design defect. Moreover, Ace is defrauding customers if they are selling such faulty equipment and extended warranties on such faulty equipment. Ace and Stihl would rather conveniently blame the customer for holding, starting, and handling equipment than honor either of two (2) warranties they induced me to purchase. It is not plausible that this chainsaw failure is due to operator error.
It is very possible that Ace and Stihl are refusing to honor the warranty of this line of equipment possibly to avoid making good on their promise to customers and not letting other customers know the results of other investigations and outcomes. I believe they are accusing and blaming the customer in order to avoid responsibility under consumer rights.
I am asking for full repair or compensation for the chainsaw, that Ace and Stihl honor their warranty, as well as the extended warranty, which they induced me to purchase. I also am asking for a refund of my $50.00 troubleshooting service fee, which was what they charged me on January 28, 2018 to look at the chainsaw.
LANTANA, FLORIDA -- One day I looked online at the acehardware.com site for a pipe repair/wrap and located none. Within the hour I went to my local Ace Hardware store and bought some Ace weld/putty. When I opened it to use, it was so hard on the ends - it was obvious the product was very old, and had been on the shelf an extremely long time. I took it back right then and asked if they had anything newer in the back. I had the product and the wrapper from when I had just bought it minutes before...someone named ** came up and started telling me I was "yelling" which is not true.
I told him I am half-deaf so my voice may carry but I used no vulgarities, etc., just address the issue of the putty and check in the back if they have any fresher product. He said no, they didn't have any. I said you might want to pull the stuff off the shelves then because it is old. He got mad at me and started making agitating comments every time I said something he would cut me off mid-sentence on purpose. I told him that was unprofessional and I left.
** then came to the exit door and SCREAMED AT ME ACROSS THE PARKING LOT ABOUT HOW I SHOULDN'T COME BACK. HE DID THIS IN FRONT OF THE OTHER EMPLOYEES AND CUSTOMERS ALIKE. I went back to the door and asked him what he said. He then added "** said you're not supposed to be here, but we let you come back anyway". I said this is the first I have heard of this, ever. ** proceeded to say other things loudly and still in front of the employees and customers and as I went to get my $65 pair of glasses, he walked towards me aggressively advancing on me. He then locked the door on me, telling me to leave.
I only went back to hear what he had screamed at me across the parking lot, and I was aghast. THIS IS THE FIRST I HAVE EVER HEARD OF ANYTHING LIKE THIS. I have been going to ** and **'s store for over a decade. We have spent thousands there, especially when we first came to this area, on our house repairs. I HAVE NEVER BEEN TOLD, ADVISED OR EVEN ALLUDED TO THAT I EVER WAS ANYTHING BUT WELCOMED AT THIS STORE. NO ONE HAS EVER TREATED ME IN SUCH A MANNER THERE.
The only problem is that I would get the rewards cards and would be disappointed because every time was told they were "expired" so couldn't use them. I have taken a few things back over the years but overall have patronized this store along with my husband who goes there too. WHY DID ** SAY THIS and especially IN THIS REPREHENSIBLE MANNER TO ME? All of this over a $5 tube of plumbers weld/putty. I want my glasses back or reimbursement for them. This is unreal.
HUMBLE, TEXAS -- Update 5/27/09: I'm grateful that when the manager was ultimately informed of the situation (apparently he was not informed as the worker indicated he would be), he took time to understand the situation, and quickly rectified it. Got a new carb and the blower starts fine now. He addition, he went above and beyond by tuning up my Stihl saw for free. My faith has been restored! Thanks.
What a disappointment, have lost my faith in both the service and the management of this Stihl dealership. My recommendation is not to use this Ace Hardware store for Stihl product repairs/service. The lack of skill and customer care by the tech and lack of follow-up by management indicates this dealership should not carry the Stihl logo.
Details: 1/31/09 brought my 7-year old BG 85 to Ace Hardware in Humble, TX because it was hard to start (usually starts on 2 pulls). Tech explained it could be the carb and rather than a cleaner kit, best thing to do is replace the carb for $50 plus labor. But he'd check it out and let me know. No call, other than to say that the blower was ready to be picked up. I picked up the blower after new air + fuel filter, new plug, carb adjustment made, no replacement carb needed. Great for $42 + tax. Used it once - was hard to start, could never get it started after that.
4/10/09 returned blower to Ace. $32 + tax later, after plug and fuel filter replaced. Tried 3 times, could never get the blower started. 5/5/09 returned blower to Ace. Tech could not get it started until he made some adjustments (so how was I supposed to get it started?). He'll have it checked and fixed in 2 days, told him Saturday 5/9 would be fine since I wouldn't need it before then. Went to pick up blower on Sat., tech had not even started working on the blower at all (no call to let me know this in advance), lots of apologies for the bad service, he'd make it up to me.
Expected a call Monday or Tuesday to indicate blower was fixed (seems like a responsible way to make up for poor service). No call by Friday 5/15, so I called manager. None was avail to speak to me. However the person I talked (seemed like the person in charge) assured me that both the tech and a manager would call me Saturday, 5/16. Also he indicated that the blower was on the "bench" (meaning that the tech had not even looked at the blower after all the apologies).
No call from either during the week. At 4 PM Sat. (too late to use the blower), tech called to indicate the carburetor needed to be replaced. Part may be in by Tuesday 5/12, he'll call when it's ready. Still no call from the manager.
Basically I'm out $74 + tax, lots of wasted time, and a blower that's been out of service for 4 months. Root cause of the technical problem was carb needed to be replaced. That's what should have been fixed the first time. Root cause of the service problem: a tech that has difficulty diagnosing technical problems, but worse, who doesn't contact customers, who is insincere, and who apparently does not care to follow up or make amends when problems occur. Frankly - this dealership does a dis-service to Stihl's reputation. Issue has not been resolved because management has not had the courtesy to follow-up up on their commitments.
GREEN COVE SPRINGS, FLORIDA -- Rown & Cartwright ACE Hardware in Green Cove Springs, FL is an ABSOLUTE DISGRACE to the company name, and the community! I have been a customer of ACE Hardware throughout the country. Everywhere else, it has been a pleasure...until I moved to Green Cove Springs!
In the over 6 years I have shopped at this store, I can say without hesitation, that I have NEVER encountered an employee there that was friendly, or any help at all! Every last one of them is RUDE and USELESS! I gave up on getting help finding what I need there years ago, and just find it myself...but not without being followed like a hawk around the store my entire visit! This went on for years, and I put up with it until my most recent visit.
An employee actually confronted us outside the store stating "We know what you're up to" and "Someone in the store overheard you saying you were being watched and that you'll pay for it if you have to". This was just an ABSOLUTE LIE! She then went on to say "We can sell to whoever we want, and you're not welcome here". Can you believe she told us we need to make a "list" of what we need, get it, and get out? Unbelievable! I immediately filed a complaint with the corporate office, and invite anyone else (I am sure there are many) with an experience like this to do the same!
BATAVIA, ILLINOIS -- I recently purchased some items in Denver when I was visiting my daughter. She didn't have enough money to cover the purchase, so I paid for it. Returning to Chicago, I brought along the items that she didn't need or could use. I returned the items to a store in Batavia, IL and discovered that even though the merchandise was exactly the same, with the same Stock #/SKN, I got a lower return price (and not due to different tax) because the store in Batavia sold it at a different price.
I was told by the cashier that my choices were: keep the items or go back to Denver to get my money back. She was very rude/condescending to me. Nowhere could I see notices/signs (or even on the receipt) that each store was independent and be forewarned that I may not get my complete money back if I had to return something. This is not the policy at other home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowe's.
I called their Customer Service phone #, and recounted my story. Then I was put on hold. Eventually, the line was disconnected, waiting for someone to come back on the line. So, goodbye Ace Hardware, you have lost all my future business, as well as my family and friends, whom I plan on sharing my experience with asap. I will go out of my way to avoid shopping at any Ace Hardware store in any city.
HERNANDO -- I went to the Ace Hardware on Florida Ave., Inverness, Florida to return an item and look for a screw fitting. I was verbally abused by the store manager because I was unable to give him the answers he wanted. He became very angry and eventually threatened with body language and order me out of his store. To me it was bodily-threatening behavior. Ace Corporate Office apologized for his behavior gave me a $25 gift card and said they could take no action against the store. Since that event, I have heard many other golfing buddies complain about this store.
CORONA, CA -- 3.5 weeks ago I purchased a Toro Trimmer from the ACE Hardware store in Corona -- I have been doing business with this store for over 20 years. The trimmer began to break and fall apart after 3 weeks of light use. Today I took it back. The receipt said -- "Original receipt is required for refund or exchange within 30 days". I took it back with the original receipt and was told I could not get my money back because I did not bring it back in the original box. Now how many people keep the box after they open the product and use it? They refused to give me my money back.
I talked to a store clerk by the name of ** -- he was very abusive and unprofessional. He told me to come back and see the owner which I will tomorrow. If they refuse to give me my money back, I will be forced to file a civil suit against the store. Beware -- this ACE store practices consumer FRAUD -- please avoid the ACE store in Corona on 6th Street and Lincoln.
VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON -- I bought a pipe fitting from Ace Hardware in Salmon Creek, WA to hook up my outside line (for the hose). When my husband saw the fitting, he noticed that the turn knob kept turning and wouldn't tighten. However, not being plumbers, we thought it must be OK, it's brand new. Anyway, it did turn out to be a problem, because after we put it on the water WOULDN'T turn off and was gushing everywhere. Thinking that there was something else wrong with our plumbing, we had to call a plumber and $140 later, it turns out that the pipe was defective.
Thinking I was totally justified returning something that was defective, imagine my surprise when the owner would only keep repeating to me that the pipe had been "tampered" with and he couldn't take it back. Not only that, but he was rude as well. I only wanted by money back, which was $30 for having something on their shelf that could cause such an expensive problem...they should pay for the plumber too! I'll never go back, the owner of this particular Ace Hardware is a cheat.
ALOHA, OREGON -- My husband purchased 2 items from Ace Hardware in Aloha, Oregon over the past several weeks. I took the items back to ACE for a return as we never used them. The items have the ACE name printed right on the packaging. When I entered the store and handed the items to the checker and told her I wanted to return them, she told me that she could not refund my money because she didn't find the items in her computer, EVEN THOUGH THE ACE NAME WAS PRINTED ON THE PACKAGING.
She called a store manager who told me that since the item could not be found in their computer they could not refund my money. He also said that I could not prove I bought the items from his store. In other words, I was a liar. BEWARE CONSUMERS! REGARDLESS OF WHAT ACE SAYS REGARDING CUSTOMER SERVICE, THEY DON'T HONOR WHAT THEY PROFESS.
SYRACUSE, NEW YORK -- I beg you not to shop here for the sake of saving a huge headache. This place wants to call themselves Ace Hardware but when it comes to returns, forget about it. Must take items back to exact location - what a joke. Unfortunately I was traveling at the time of my purchase. The customer service - what a joke. I guess what I'm really saying is I pray all Ace Hardware get bulldozed and Lowe's builds on their lot. A place with no customer service is a short-lived thing. Please do not shop at Ace Hardware, thank you.