Saturday, June 27, 2009

My $863 Refrigerator Repair


Four weeks ago, I found that the ice dispenser of my refrigerator had run out of ice. Here's my long story, but you can cut to the end for my conclusions from this experience.

My ice maker had stopped making ice once last year, so I went through my records and recalled the answer the helpful Kitchen Aid customer service people gave me. I tried the old solution to no avail - still no ice. Then I realized that though the refrigerator side was okay, my freezer had warmed up from its normal -5° to +30°!

I called the Kitchen Aid 800 number and was quickly told I needed a service call. They said Capital City Appliance Service in Columbus was my locally authorized service provider. I called them and they arranged a service visit for the next day. My service guy, Mike, told me I had a slow leak somewhere in the system. He recharged the freon, saying that would get my freezer cooling normally again, and said he'd need to return with a dye injector which would show where in the hundreds of feet of cooling system piping the leak was. He said that since my refrigerator (a 36" side-by-side built-in) was 11 years old, parts were still covered by Kitchen Aid's 12-year warranty, but I'd have to pay for labor (confirming what Kitchen Aid customer service told me over the phone). I paid $177 for that first visit for his hour's time plus the freon.

The next day, I got a call from Mike's office. A woman there told me it would cost me $800 for my refrigerator repair. I asked how much time it would take and she said it would be about 3 hours. Well, since parts were covered, I asked if that meant I would be paying almost $200 per hour for labor (given the charge for freon). After getting inadequate explanations to my questions about the seemingly unreasonable charge, I asked her to schedule the next service, but told her that I'd shop for a new refrigerator to consider replacing rather than repairing it and would call her back the next day.

I went to my local Home Depot and Lowe's hardware stores and saw regular refrigerators that might fit in my space, but no built-ins. (I was also surprised in this economy how hard it was to find anyone to ask for help on such a high-priced item!) I realized that with regular refrigerators, I would't be able to have custom cabinet panels on the doors, so it would't look good in my kitchen. I then went to the Great Indoors store and there found built-ins and sales help. Instead of the $1500-2500 for regular side-by-side refrigerators, a new Kitchen Aid built-in would cost over $5000 (confirming my recollection of what I paid for it when I bought it for my new house 11 years ago). In the context of $5000, an $800 repair didn't seem too bad.

I called Capital City back and after getting the same woman who couldn't explain why I was paying so much for labor, I asked to speak with a service manager. He explained they were required to charge according to a schedule of national standard service charges for types of repair. Further, I'd have to pay for a 2nd entire recharge of freon since federal regulations didn't permit them to reuse the freon they just put into my refrigerator until it had been cleaned. Before calling Capital City back, I had checked Angie's List and called Kitchen Aid again to see what alternatives I had, but found that although Capital City had many customers who were unhappy with their service, the alternative service company's ratings were even worse. So, I was stuck.

The service manager told me he advises customers to consider repair vs. replacement cost and expected refrigerator life. If the repair is more than 1/2 the replacement cost, he suggests buying a new one. He also told me that the expected life of a regular refrigerator is 10-12 years, but that of a built-in is 20 years, so my 11-year old unit still had plenty of life left. He said the work had a 90 day warranty and the parts warranty would run out with the 12-year warranty of my unit. When I expressed concern that inadequate repair of a slow leak may not show up until after the 90 day warranty had expired, he assured me that they would consider such instances on a case-by-case basis. I thanked him for his patience and explanations and told him to go ahead with the repair.

From there, things went smoothly. Mike came back to put in the dye injector (with a service charge of $77.55), and 3 weeks later, after the parts came in and my schedule permitted, found the expected slow leak. He replaced the parts, taking the predicted 3 hours. Mike had originally told me to empty my freezer, since everything would thaw during the repair. So in the intervening weeks, I've been trying to eat up my frozen foods (they had survived the few days of warming from -5° to +30°). I hadn't thought that all I needed to do was to put the frozen food into cooler chests during the repair, but I realized this once Mike came for the final repair.

So that's the story. My freezer's running fine again (so far) - I have ice! Mike confirmed that the leak wasn't anything I had caused; it was in a sealed part of the freezer. I was charged $785 for the final repair, less $122.60 I paid for the initial visit, so my total cost was $862.55 for 5 hours of labor and freon.

CONCLUSIONS

Most significantly, I've learned that I really don't need to keep much in my freezer. Fortunately, my side-by-size refrigerator doesn't hold all that much as it is, and one freezer bin is filled with coffee beans (since I've stopped drinking coffee, drinking tea instead). So I'll continue to eat up my frozen food and be more aware of what I put in there (which should be mainly for last-minute entertaining). I should also invite more friends over for coffee!

I'm concerned that the federal government and industry have created a situation where customers are stuck with unreasonable charges. I can understand regulators wanting to ensure that freon is properly recycled for reuse. But why can't we have our own freon put back into our own refrigerators? Also, while diagnostic-based charges may help prevent unscrupulous overcharging for repairs, what assurance do customers have against unreasonable "standard" charges? These may be examples of unintended consequences of government policies (far preferable to being examples of government-industry collusion to bilk customers); I'll have more to say about unintended consequences in a future blog.

Still, I'm happy that here in Columbus, I continue to be able to find service people who can help promptly and courteously (and, hopefully, competently).

31 comments:

  1. I bought the cheapest refrigerator/freezer that I can get to replace the old one I got downstair. I didn't bother to call a service guy becase I didn't want to pay for the service call. And the new one suppose to save energy too.

    Go to you country club and enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  2. The Chinese government subsidies in our electrical appliances including refrigerators replaced old!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Refers to the old appliances coupled with a certain amount of money can be exchanged for a new refrigerator has been!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Be careful keeping your freezer empty - they actually work best when full. Something about the frozen food hjelping to keep the temperature steady and therefore using less energy. So maybe the key is to entertain more and store lots of leftovers for dinner between parties!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am having almost identical problems with a simlarly aged Kitchenaid built-in. Thank you for giving your detailed experience, it will hopefully help me avoid some of the extra freon and service charges you had. The fridge came with the house, but I'm suprised at just how few appliance repair outfits will touch this type of refrigerator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. if you do some home work, It might be worth buying a new fridge and make sure you buy extended warranty.I have seen issues with GE then i brought my next fridge by Samsung, this one still works after 6 years.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks to this blog I finally managed to find the information matching my criteria and for this I would like to thank the author for sharing this blog with us. Looking forward for more.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi,
    I have a built in sub-zero refrigerator with freezer at the bottom. Our milk has been going bad very quickly lately and my husband just noticed that the temperature readout for the refrigerator says 54 degrees!! I called two service companies and one told me they don't work on sub-Zeros. The other confirmed my suspicions that the refrig was broken and came today to fix it.
    He told me I have a freon leak and replaced freon and put in some type of sealant that should stop the leak. I have a 90 day warantee. Total bill: $628. I think I've been taken advantage of and have a call in to the owner to get more info.

    ReplyDelete
  9. the lone hipster in my dad’s family. Well, as much of a hipster as one can be when living in tiny, rural Carnarvon, a hamlet in the Haliburton Highlands. By day, he was an appliance repair man. dryer repair

    ReplyDelete
  10. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful. appliance repair Los Angeles

    ReplyDelete
  11. I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will find that very useful. appliance repair Los Angeles service

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hey – great blog, just looking around some blogs, seems a really nice platform you are using. I’m currently using WordPress for a few of my blogs but looking to change one of them over to a platform similar to yours as a trial run. Anything in particular you would recommend about it? Los Angeles refrigerator repair

    ReplyDelete
  13. Easily, the article is actually the best topic on this registry related issue. I fit in with your conclusions and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. Just saying thanks will not just be sufficient, for the fantasti c lucidity in your writing. I will instantly grab your rss feed to stay informed of any updates Orange County appliance repair

    ReplyDelete
  14. wow, great, I was wondering how to cure acne naturally. and found your site by google, learned a lot, now i’m a bit clear. I’ve bookmark your site and also add rss. keep us updated. refrigerator repair Los Angeles service 

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hmm… I read blogs on a similar topic, but i never visited yo ur blog. I added it to favorites and i’ll be your constant reader. United Appliance Repair Service

    ReplyDelete
  16. for quality, professional same day appliance repair in Orange County use D&V Appliance Repair

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Yes pretty cool experience rod, you provided a detailed story and i think many of the people had to face the same story but they didn't tell anyone about their valuable repaired appliances. So, you did a good job by pulling of the truth.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Awesome post Ice Maker Repair. Its so much informative for the followers. I like the way you describe this post. Its really helpful for the users of this site. I am also searching about these type of sites now a days. So your site really helps me for searching the new and great stuff. This site contain all my specifications. Thanks for sharing. Keep it up. I am waiting for your more posts like this or related to any other informative topic.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If you're searching for commercial air conditioners to meet your business needs, we have just what you're looking for. http://www.bergenrefrigeration.com/ light commercial comfort systems are not only steady performers that will work dependably year in and year out, they're also easy to install and service because of their application, flexibility and accessibility features. Our rooftop air conditioning options and commercial HVAC units will also help you address workplace environmental issues, such as indoor air quality and reduced energy consumption.

    ReplyDelete

  21. You have shared a great information about Refrigeration Repair Service and Commercial Refrigeration Services. Which are very

    informative for us.Thanks

    ReplyDelete
  22. Hello Frndz....
    I will Remember your Great this Information! Nice post,it is really very helpful for me.One of the few articles I’ve read today.I’m saying thanks

    Home Fridge Repair Service

    ReplyDelete


  23. I totally agree with what you said and will love to read your next blog.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCVQ56wXj9I


    Most significantly, I've learned that I really don't need to keep much in my freezer. Fortunately, my side-by-size refrigerator doesn't hold all that much as it is, and one freezer bin is filled with coffee beans (since I've stopped drinking coffee, drinking tea instead


    Is it possible you produce high quality fridge seals:
    to correctly fit easily on any refrigerator door:
    https://storify.com/FridgeSeal/refrigeration-gasket-replacement-services
    Is it correct you have current work loads that need their refrigerator door gasket re-placed?
    Make your own Refrigeration Seals Lengths into Completed Refrigeration Gaskets with the Portable Refrigerator Gasket Welder Kit.

    It is suitable for Phillips, LG, Kelvinator, Hoover, Westinghouse, Fisher & Paykel, Samsung, Whirlpool, GE, Ignis, Bosch, Fridgidaire, Kenmore both domestic and commercial.
    We can weld the gaskets on Kelvinator, Hoover, and nearly all brands.

    We have customers try it on Phillips, LG, Kelvinator, Hoover, Westinghouse, Fisher & Paykel, Samsung, Whirlpool, GE, Ignis, Bosch, Fridgidaire, Kenmore fridges and freezers. If you need to manufacture gaskets for any of these brands Fisher & Paykel, Samsung, Whirlpool, GE, Ignis, Bosch, then our machine is for you.

    Just search GOOGLE you will find our refrigeration gasket welder machine and website online. Just search for Portable Refrigeration Gasket Welder Kit.

    http://tiny.cc/RGWK RefrigeratorGasketWelderKit

    http://tiny.cc/FSWK FridgeSealWelderKit

    ReplyDelete
  24. Your post gives me awesome information about refrigerator repair los angeles, Thanks !

    ReplyDelete
  25. The blog provides exceptional information regarding refrigerator repairs.

    ReplyDelete
  26. . Small Basic Refrigerator - These are best for smaller families, apartments or small kitchens. Generally it is about three to six inches narrower than your regular size refrigerators.

    true refrigeration

    ReplyDelete
  27. Money wasted. A slow leak can be fix it by instaling a piercing valve on the low pressure side by the compressed an recharging with automotive freon with sealer. Valve, House and freon are for sale in Amazon, instructions in google. I had the same problem with my ten years old amana, it cost me $40 to repair. A DIY job

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Juanjo,

      Care to share more specifics on the repair? I have a 1 yr old fridge that is leaking Freon.

      Delete
  28. I read that Post and got it fine and informative. Please share more like that... fridge repair

    ReplyDelete
  29. This is something that should make you happy, as many companies in today's day and age just don't offer this. Instead, they focus on other details that are not nearly as important as the customer. Mission Viejo appliance repair

    ReplyDelete