Washer Woman Woes

By DEBBIE ALEXANDER
Staff Writer
 
When our six-year-old Frigidaire washing machine began leaking water out the bottom, I called Sears, because I had an extended warranty policy with Sears Factory A&E Repair Service.
My first repairman swore we didn’t need service.
“Really?” I asked.
“No, frontloading washers like yours sometimes leak,” he said, and advised adjusting the soil level settings. “You can continue using it.”
That night I tossed in some clothes and added detergent, the water filled, and voila—nothing happened, the machine didn’t work. I tried pressing start a few more times but with the same results, then popped the wet load into the dryer.
I called Sears, again, insisting we definitely needed service ASAP. The soonest appointment was 7 days away, from 8 a.m. to noon. I accepted that lame offer.
Then, I panicked because my family of five generates about 20 loads a week. I immediately recognized that I had a first-world problem. At least I own a washing machine, and am not reliant on beating our laundry in the Ganges River.
My neighbor graciously let me do a few loads over there, and I took clothes to the cleaners, but at $3 a pound the cost was too high. Then, I discovered Fox Laundry, a laundromat on Montana in Santa Monica. Whatever did not fit into a full load, I turned over to their fluff and fold at $1.20 a pound.
Meanwhile, my Sears drama got ugly. Seven days later, technician Frank arrived late and diagnosed the problem—the water fill valves were cracked and another adjacent part was needed. He ordered them and had them sent directly to me, but the soonest he could return was in eight days.
I got into a rhythm of going to the laundromat twice a week. While there, I met others like me whose machines were broken. I got hip to getting rolls of quarters from the bank. The toughest part was loading and unloading the car.
A key washer part did not arrive and I had to reschedule Frank—another two-day wait.
Finally, Frank returned and fixed the machine, but said I also had a plumbing problem—water valves and hoses to the washer were way past their prime.
Art the plumber came, and when he tested the washing machine, water poured out of the bottom.
I immediately called Frank—the earliest he could return was in another six days.
After the plumber fixed the hoses and valves, I tried the washing machine—some water dribbled out, but subsequent loads were okay. However, I kept my third appointment with Frank just in case.
Another technician, Vadim, showed up and I learned that Sears has only two washer and dryer specialists to serve our area. I then investigated Sears Factory Service on the Internet and discovered quite a long rap sheet of poor customer service on extended warranties.
After reading through one horror story after another, I felt lucky that I was without our washer for only 21 days.
Last week, Sears called to sell me another year of warranty for $400. I politely declined because I still have two years. I hope I don’t have to call Frank or Vadim.
(Debbie Alexander lives in the Palisades Riviera neighborhood.)

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