My experiences with an Amana (Maytag)
Refrigerator and Service
by John M. Grohol
July 17, 2003
Emails received: 142 (Here are some sample emails from people.)
People who said they weren't going to purchase Amana or Maytag appliances again: 119 (84%)
For the record, since this repair in 2003, my refrigerator has not needed additional repair.
Just one customer's experience that you can take what you'd like away from reading it...
My Amana Refrigerator Is Broken!
I bought an Amana refrigerator back in July, 2001. In July, 2003 (that's just 2 years later), the compressor on it broke. Two years and the main thing that makes a refrigerator a refrigerator broke! Sorry, but I'm from an era (I'm 35) when I expected a major appliance that you spend nearly $1000 on to not break in such a short time.
(I could easily write another entire essay about why things costs nearly $1000 should not be considered 'disposable' by either the manufacturer or consumers, and be built to last, but that's for another day.)
Lucky for me, I thought, that the refrigerator is covered under a 5 year warranty for parts (but not for labor/service charge). Gee, we can make cars that carry 10 year warranties on major parts like the powertrain, but for far less complicated pieces of machinery, we're only up to 5. Nice.
Let's Call the Amana, No, wait, it's Maytag Service Center
Anyways, it broke very late Friday night, so first thing Saturday morning I call the Amana service center. Except that it's not the Amana service center, it's the Maytag service center. It seems that Amana is a division of Maytag. Oh, okay, whatever. Already the customer experience is a little disorienting because all of my documentation and manuals only say 'Amana,' with no mention of Maytag. How much more money would it have cost the company to put a little message on the Amana toll-free number to note the change? After about a 10 minute hold time, I get a service representative on the phone. I said that after going through the steps outlined in the instructions before calling the service center, it sounded as if the compressor wasn't working any longer, but I couldn't be sure. She informs me the earliest service appointment she can make for me is on Tuesday, 4 days later. Um, okay, I'll take it. She gives me a set of times to choose from and I pick the earliest one, from 7:00 am until 9:00 am.
I figure that this is great -- the guy will come, diagnose and repair the problem, and I'll just be in a little late for work! No problem. I was so naive.
Maytag Schedules an Appointment. Or do they?
Tuesday comes. I wake up early to ensure that if he comes early, I'll be ready. 7:00 am passes. 8:00 am passes, no sign of the repair person. 9:00 am passes. Still nothing, no phone call, nothing. 9:30 am and finally I'm getting a little angry at the lack of any communication and call the service center back.
Oh, the computer lost your appointment. The woman on the other end of the phone put me on hold for another 5 minutes while she tried to figure something out. She never apologized for the mixup, and instead was rude for my suggestion that this was perhaps not a good way to treat their customers. She comes back and says that maybe a repair person could come by sometime today. They may be able to fit me in. Excuse me? You're asking me to take an entire day off of work for this? Fine, I say. Sure, whatever. Send him over whenever he'd like.
The repairperson, a guy, gives me a call like an hour later and tries to diagnose the problem over the phone. He realizes he's going to have to try and come over and I explain how I've now had to take the entire day off work unexpectedly because of this foul up. He's more compassionate and listening to my frustration that the Maytag service center was. So he says he'll do what he can to come around lunch time.
At no point has anyone mentioned that this service call is just to diagnose the problem. They have no intention of actually fixing it today. But I don't know that yet.
Amana, no, Maytag Schedules an Actual Repair
He actually does make it by 1:00 pm, and by 1:30 he confirms the compressor has indeed gone. That's when he informs me that he doesn't have the part with him and I'll have to schedule another service call to actually fix the problem. Another one!?? Can't you just go get the part?? Nope, you have to re-schedule. Ahh, okay. So they set it up for Thursday, between 7:00 am and like 1:00 pm. Another full day off of work will have to be taken to repair a refrigerator that shouldn't be broken already. And I'm out the $109 service fee already charged. Two days work and $109 and still no refrigerator.
It's now been nearly a week later and Thursday comes. The service guy shows up by 10:00 am and has it fixed by 11:30 am. He also found another problem with the refrigerator that he diagnosed and fixed. Luckily he did, because if hadn't caught the problem the first technician missed, it likely would've caused a premature failure of the compressor a second time.
So given the compressor failing on a 2-year old refrigerator, a computer that lost my original service call, nobody mentioning how I'd actually have to schedule 2 service calls to have the problem fixed, taking 2 full days off of work, and being out $109, I figure I'd write Maytag a nice letter to let them know of my less-than stellar experiences with their service folks.
Writing Maytag a Letter
So I wrote their customer service manager a letter detailing all that I've noted here, and asking for a refund of the $109 plus some free water filters for the refrigerator. I figured, what the heck, they should at least be able to send me a free water filter for my troubles, right?! I also noted that if they couldn't make some effort at making this horrible service experience right, it was unlikely I would remain a consumer of any Maytag or Amana product for the rest of my life. Oh, and I might share my experiences with my friends and family.
Maytag Says, "Sorry, we can't help you!"
On Monday, July 14, 2003 I get a brief phone call from a woman at the Maytag service center, but I wasn't home so she left a message. She said that they got my letter but would be unable to help me out on my request. Nothing. That's it. So despite all of my troubles and their screwups, they would rather lose a customer for life than to send me a refund or free water filter!!
This is what you can expect when you purchase an Amana or Maytag appliance, at least from my personal experiences. If anything goes wrong with it, expect to take 2 full days off of work for them to fix the problem. Expect uncaring, insensitive customer service representatives and a company more concerned about the bottom line than keeping their existing customers happy. And a large corporate structure and culture that would make the very idea of setting things right unthinkable.
Amana / Maytag Loses a Customer for Life
Don't get me wrong, I don't expect perfection from a company. But I do expect that when they make a mistake that causes not only inconvenience on my side but actual loss of money and time from work, they make an effort to acknowledge the mistake, apologize for it, and when the customer (that's me!) asks, attempt to mollify them. Maytag illustrated they could care less about their mistake or the inconvenience and loss of income it caused me.
It is that sort of behavior that I find astounding and was the impetus for this article. If I were a stockholder in this company, I would also be a little disappointed.
Needless to say I will never purchase another Maytag or Amana appliance in my lifetime. And maybe, you should think twice before you do as well.
Postscript on the Amana / Maytag Issue
Since posting this article about a month
ago, I've received over a dozen emails from similarly disgruntled Amana or Maytag customers about poor
customer service experiences or just poorly-built appliances that failed within the first 2 years of service.
Usually I would post such emails here to show the variety of claims against Amana, but some of them were
also quite long and angry. Needless to say, it is heartening to see so many others feel the same way.
And telling that the company hasn't made customer service their top priority beyond producing
high-quality appliances. (I mean, if you're going to produce crappy appliances, at least have good
customer service! The South Korean automaker Hyundai is a good example here. When they believed that
their automotive quality improved significantly enough, they began backing it with a limited
10 year warranty on the powertrain. So even though Hyundai autos still are the not the highest
quality cars you can buy, the company gives a consumer peace of mind through its customer service efforts.)
One of the emails came anonymously from someone claiming to be a customer service representative
that worked at the Maytag service center. They stated I should not have been charged for the labor
cost, because that is covered in the first five years of the warranty. That's not what my warranty
says, but hey, I'm willing to believe them anyway.
About a week ago (late August, 2003), I received a telephone call during the day while I was at work.
The woman was calling from Maytag and left a message on our answering machine. She said she had just
come across my letter and looked into the issue further. She stated that upon discovering that the issue had been
misdiagnosed initially, they decided to refund my $109 service charge. About a week later, I received
a check for that amount.
The fact remains, however, that they didn't really misdiagnose the problem with my refrigerator initially.
The first repairman came and correctly diagnosed a compressor failure, but may have missed the additional
problem the second technician discovered. It wasn't clear from the second technician told me, but what
he found may have caused the compressor to fail prematurely. Regardless, I don't know enough about these
things to care one way or another. While Maytag finally did make good on the service fee, it hardly
compensates for missing two days of work and having a non operational refrigerator in the heat of
the summer for a week. In addition to the hassle, attitude, and aggravation suffered because of
a poorly-made refrigerator in the first place.