5 On Your Side

Pandemic delays mean a long wait for a new appliance

Posted October 13, 2020 3:45 p.m. EDT
Updated October 13, 2020 5:43 p.m. EDT

Cross your fingers that your refrigerator or another major appliance doesn’t break, because it could take months to get a new one.

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte said a coronavirus -related shortage is catching many by surprise.

Whether it's your fridge, washing machine, dryer or a microwave -- a new one is hard to find.

Barbara Fraser has been without a range in her Raleigh kitchen since June.

"I had put a loaf of bread in to cook and all of a sudden the smoke detector went off," she recounted. "The bread was totally black, still gooey, but it was just charred."

Her unit was zapped, so she ordered a new one from Lowes with delivery set for August. It's been delayed four times.

"She called me in September and she said, ‘It's going to be October,’" said Fraser. "I said ‘Okay,’ and I jokingly said to her, ‘Am I going to have it by Christmas?' and she said, ‘I can't make you any guarantees.’"

Appliance store owners said they can’t believe what’s happening.

"We've been open since 1977; we’ve never seen anything like this before, ever," said Rita Hines, the co-owner of Garner Appliances and Mattress.

Her once-packed showroom has been wiped out.

"[I] got a truck today, a huge truck and, you know, everything's sold. We don't have any ability to stock anything right now, " said Hines. "It's not one brand, it's every single brand."

Garner Appliance and Mattresses' display of dishwashers has also been wiped out. It's where you'd normally see floor models there, for customers to check out, but because of the backlog, the store's had to sell them all.

Wait times for new appliances could be up to 12 weeks.

"It's unbelievable -- the wait times," said Hines. "I tell everybody, ‘Hey, this is a possible date, it's probably not going to be it. I can't give you a firm date until it rolls through my warehouse.’"

The issues behind the back-ups are all coronavirus pandemic-related.

Fearing a recession, manufacturers initially scaled back production. Then the virus forced closures and slowdowns at appliance and parts factories.

Finally, demand unexpectedly skyrocketed as people, stuck at home, jumped into home improvements.

Barbara Fraser realized she has no control over the situation.

"I just have to go along with it and hope I get it by Thanksgiving," she said. "I've got my fingers crossed that my dishwasher and my refrigerator don't go out."

Even mattresses were on backorder because of parts issues. What used to take a week to come in , could also take up to 12 weeks.

There are also delays with many furniture orders.

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