5 On Your Side

Five On Your Side Puts Stop To Refrigerator-Repair Runaround

Posted July 12, 2006 9:55 a.m. EDT
Updated November 10, 2006 9:22 a.m. EST

— Ice and water in the door is one feature Frank Wilshire really wanted in a new refrigerator. But what he did not want was water leaking onto the floor.

Wilshire bought the Frigidaire refrigerator last summer from Lowe's home improvement store.

The next day, he said, he noticed a leak coming from the back of the refrigerator.

"I stepped in water … and it had run out from the corner of the cabinet over to about midway in the floor," Wilshire said.

Wilshire called Lowe's, which then sent a technician twice to check the installation. But when the technician could not determine what was wrong with the appliance, Wilshire wanted a new refrigerator.

"You can't expect a refrigerator to be leaking like that two to three days after you get it and not say, 'Hey, we've given you a defective piece of equipment, we want to exchange it,'" Wilshire said. "They didn't want to do that."

Lowe's told Wilshire to work through the manufacturer, Elextrolux, to get the refrigerator repaired. But, Wilshire said, the repairman did not show up for the first three appointments.

On the fourth appointment, the repairman fixed the leak, but about three months later, the leak was back. And after a fifth repair attempt, Wilshire called Five On Your Side.

"It's been a real headache," he said.

A spokesman for Electrolux claimed the company told Wilshire if one final repair attempt did not work, it would give him a new refrigerator. Wilshire said if the company had offered that, he would have accepted.

In the meantime, Lowe's delivered a new refrigerator. So now, the only water that comes out of the appliance is from the door dispenser.

The lesson in Wilshire's refrigerator repair woes: According to Consumer Reports, when a store sells you a product, it is giving an unwritten assurance called an "implied warranty of merchantability." That means if a new product does not work within an unreasonably short time, the retailer is obligated to correct the problem, no matter what the return policy says.

Of course, items sold "as is" would not qualify under the unwritten assurance.

So, if the store tries to send you to the manufacturer, go to the store manager. And if that does not work, go to the corporate office.