Faulty appliances: Repairmen reveal industry secrets (CBC Marketplace)

Faulty appliances: Repairmen reveal industry secrets (CBC Marketplace)

August 15, 2019 97 By Stanley Isaacs


(rattling)>>Hey, how are you doing.>>I’m Jeff.>>And I’m Phil. And we’re the appliance guys>>And we’ve seen it all. (♪♪)>>Tom: We’re calling in the appliance repair men. Because well, you say it’s an emergency.>>Help, my fridge stopped cooling and almost started burning.>>One day it just stopped working. All of the food in my fridge spoiled and it ended up on my curb.>>Every three or four weeks this freezing compartment freezes up. As a matter of fact, it is frozen solid right now and we can’t open it.>>It burns everything and it’s going to burn the house down.>>I would expect my machine to last me at least ten years.>>I really miss my old washer. (♪♪)>>Tom: Why don’t appliances last the way they used to. These old pros are about to tell all. Five industry secrets… No holds-bar. Tonight: Repairmen unplugged. Phil, Tom Harrington from “Marketplace.”>>Nice to meet you.>>Tom: Jeff? Thanks for coming into our fake kitchen. Phil and Jeff are going public where other repairmen we talked to wouldn’t. Risking an industry backlash.>>You guys have come on to tell us your stories; why?>>Let’s face it, things aren’t being made the way they were. We’re all a part of it and we’re all stuck with it so what do you do. (♪♪)>>Go on TV and try and wake somebody up I guess.>>Tom: They each spent more than 35 years in the business seeing a landslide in quality and a flood of customer anger. When you go into a house and you have somebody with a relatively new machine and has a major problem, what is the reaction you get?>>You don’t want to hear.>>Tom: Really?>>We’ve got to keep it clean so…>>Tom: They get upset.>>Damn straight, yeah. They’re not too thrilled. (♪♪)>>Tom: For sure these ain’t your mother’s appliances. Today’s fridges, stoves and dishwashers are fancy, high tech. And often pricey. We spent $4 billion on them every year.>>My crisper.>>Tom: Yet they seem to be breaking down…>>Starts getting filled up with water.>>Tom: As fast as they can make them. (♪♪)>>Tom: And that keeps Steve Brannan on the road every day.>>Hello.>>Two medium dark roast please. I have had up to 70 calls in one day.>>Tom: Steve is our “Marketplace” repairman and says he’s busier than ever.>>We should be making these things to last a lot longer.>>Tom: Today, we’re asking him to help solve a mystery.>>I’m not a happy Whirlpool customer.>>Tom: Mark White’s appliance battles have worn him down. He wants to know why his fridge, stove, and dishwasher all needed fixing.>>I expected them to work like new for at least five years.>>Tom: Instead, it’s been barely two years.>>I take care of my appliances, they weren’t abused. This isn’t my fault.>>Tom: Let’s see what the problem is, shall we.>>Very good. (doorbell ringing)>>Tom: Who’s to blame for what happened. That’s why Steve’s here. Hey Mark.>>Morning.>>Tom: Tom Harrington from “Marketplace”. How are you?>>Pleased to meet you. Good thanks.>>Tom: This is Steve Brennan. You need some help?>>I do, yes.>>Tom: All right, let’s come in, it’s cold out here.>>Thank you, I appreciate you coming by.>>Tom: First up, Mark’s fridge.>>This is it.>>Tom: Complete with ice maker and freezer in the bottom.>>The fridge gave me quite a scare. I come down in the morning and there would be water pooled down here in front of the fridge and I thought, hmm…>>Tom: Mark was stumped, so he called Whirlpool who hooked him up with a repair man.>>The service guy knew exactly what was wrong with it and I’m like that’s odd, how do you know exactly what is wrong with it? He comes in.>>Tom: A clogged drain was causing ice to build up and water to seep out on to the loor.>>He said these series of fridges have this design problem where that drain tube gets clogged up from dirt, dust, whatever. My next question to him was well, if Whirlpool knows that this is a design problem, you know, are they going to cover the repair? And he said, you know, they’ve said nothing to us about that.>>Tom: Our appliance guy has done that repair before.>>If there was a design flaw and the repair man is telling Mark that, why should he have to pay to get it fixed?>>Well really, he shouldn’t, right? So if it is a design flaw, then he shouldn’t have to pay to have it fixed.>>Yeah, I don’t think I should be on the hook for the bill.>>This is a drain issue on a refrigerator which is the most common problem I fix on any refrigerator.>>Tom: In fact, Whirlpool has a replacement kit in case the drain keeps clogging. As you’ll see, that sort of thing is common in other brands.>>Hello “Marketplace” it’s Terry in Vancouver. I’m hoping you can help me with my Samsung fridge that is just two years old.>>Tom: Terry Lake’s fridge is leaking water too.>>I’m going to phone Tom Harrington from CBC and see what he can do for me.>>Tom: Hi there.>>Hi Tom, how are you.>>Tom: I’m good, Terry, how are you?>>Great, thank you very much.>>Tom: I have friends with me.>>Okay, great.>>Tom: We organize a party line service call for Vancouver. I understand you have a problem with your fridge.>>Yes a big problem with my fridge, it’s been plaguing me all year. Would you like to see it?>>Tom: Terry is hoping Steve can help. Yeah, show us the problem.>>Okay. This is my fridge. And my crisper is filling up with water.>>Tom: Water in the crisper, eh?>>Yeah.>>Tom: The water leaking into the vegetable drawer isn’t the only problem.>>So I’m just gonna pull out the crisper now. And so I hope you can see this. But now in the last few days I’ve got ice forming here.>>Okay so we have another refrigerator with a plugged drain.>>Tom: Terry has been solving her problem the old fashioned way, unplugging it.>>Like frost-free freezers went out how many years ago now and now I have a non-frost free fridge for goodness sake. I mean, this is craziness.>>It’s retro.>>Thanks, yeah along with the stainless steel front.>>Tom: Like Mark’s Whirlpool, her Samsung trouble began after the one-year warranty ended.>>Got any ideas for me?>>Tom: The more we look the more cold hard truths we learn about leaky fridges. Online there are lots of similar complaints.>>I’ll read you what this one person says, the ice is back and my food continues to spoil. I don’t know if they’re still selling this fridge or not.>>Tom: And there is a potential class action law suit against Samsung in the U.S.>>This is $1,400 and it’s garbage. It’s crazy I can’t live like this.>>Tom: So what are shoppers hearing about the reputation of Samsung fridges? Let’s find out the “Marketplace” way, shall we? We’re taking our hidden cameras into four major retailers; Sears, Leons, Home Depot and Future Shop. Our unplugged repair men are watching with us to see if our hidden shopper will hear all of nitty-gritty.>>From my experience, people buy with their eyes, you know, if it looks good.>>And mind you the salesmen, they are pretty good too, they’ll convince you that some of this stuff, all of the gadgets that they’re coming up with are necessities and stuff, and in the end you buy into it.>>Tom: So far glowing reviews but we’ve just spotted Terry’s fridge.>>Tom: Straight from a Samsung corporate sales guy who happens to be in Home Depot today.>>Tom: Reliable? Maybe Samsung isn’t aware of all the complaints. But our insider Phil says the company probably is. Is it possible that Samsung knows this problem is chronic.>>I’m sure they do because when you do warranty work for any company they want you to put in a code on a work order and that code is supposed to go to the engineering department. If they get 1000 of those codes, then they’ll say something is going on.>>Tom: So they track the problems.>>Yes.>>Tom: Meantime, our insider Jeff says this is bigger than one brand or one fridge.>>Are companies standing by their products like they used to.>>Not a chance. Nobody cares. And it’s really come to that. (♪♪)>>Tom: And that’s our first repairman secret. Design flaws are well known in the industry but you’re not told about them. What did Samsung say when you called them.>>They just said that I wasn’t under warranty and I would have to pay to get someone out.>>Samsung should acknowledge that this is a problem. If you call us with this problem, we’ll fix it for you. So that’s what they should be doing.>>Tom: Instead, Samsung gives Terry the cold shoulder but Mark says don’t give up.>>I think you should stick to your guns and don’t pay.>>There is no way I want to pay for this.>>Don’t be like me. I felt I didn’t even have a choice because water kept pouring out of my floor so I paid.>>Tom: Terry is fighting back.>>Why should I pay, it’s absolute insanity on a new fridge?>>Tom: While Terry takes on big appliance…>>So the repairman’s coming and he’s asked me to shut down the fridge.>>Tom: Our repairmen are going to reveal more secrets.>>Is it reliable? Nothing is reliable.>>Tom: Fed up with your appliances? Vent about it on Facebook and twitter. (♪♪)>>Tom: We’re calling in the repairmen. Telling you what home appliance makers would rather you didn’t know.>>Right here is the trouble maker.>>Tom: Secrets people such as Terry Lake wish she knew. She owns a fridge on the fritz. It’s leaking water.>>It drips down here and I get a whole lot of water in the crisper so I can’t use this crisper. Run down the drain.>>Tom: That’s not all.>>Underneath the crisper, all across, the water will get in there and it will freeze into ice. Pretty stupid for a fridge. (♪♪)>>Tom: Meantime across the country in Milton, Ontario, Mark White’s fridge needed fixing but that was just the beginning.>>Well the dishwasher wasn’t washing dishes well, my wife was complaining she would find bits and pieces of things in her glasses, whatever.>>Tom: So the same repairmen who fixed his fridge made another house call and replaced a computer board and sensor.>>And that seemed to resolve the problem and relieved me of several hundred dollars, you know. Here is my range.>>Tom: But just when Mark thought his troubles were over…>>Several months later… The display panel went out.>>Tom: His stove had an issue.>>Without the display panel I can not operate the stove. (beeping)>>Tom: Once again, it was the electronics. Our marketplace repairman Steve Brannon isn’t surprised.>>Electronics and appliances; how common is this.>>You have a computer, would you take it and put it on top of a hot stove? No. Because, you know, when the water hits this thing, there is a seam so if you have electronics here they are very vulnerable to that.>>Tom: The design of modern stoves means more service calls.>>Maybe we could make a stove that doesn’t blow up when you’re pasta boils over, right?>>Tom: Our insiders Phil and Jeff have spent decades repairing machines, even working for the manufacturers. Finicky electronics is the single biggest problem they deal with.>>The shift has been from going from mechanical appliances to more electronic and it’s this electronic stuff just doesn’t have the longevity that the other stuff did. (♪♪)>>Tom: That’s our second repairman secret, electronics often fail and cost lots to fix. Will we hear that on our shopping tour of big appliance departments?>>Tom: Surprisingly, we do get hints.>>Tom: But this salesperson goes one step further, telling a repair story of her own, with a surprise ending.>>Tom: Ah so that’s what’s really going on. Our insiders say that dilemma is no accident. It is the industry’s grand plan at work.>>I believe, in my opinion, they don’t want you fixing it. They want you to –>>Tom: Buy another one.>>Buy another one.>>Yeah, that actually makes sense, doesn’t it.>>Why else would they price the parts so expensive.>>Tom: And get this… Even if you want to repair your appliance, Jeff says you might not be able to.>>I can get parts tomorrow for a machine that’s 40-years-old why can’t I get a part tomorrow for a machine that is 2-years-old? Either they can’t keep up with the demand on that defective part, or they’re just not really willing to invest the money to replace those parts out into the market place. (♪♪)>>Tom: And that’s our third repairman secret. The high cost of parts and repairs may force you to buy a new machine. Even if you’re lucky and don’t have any major troubles, how long can you expect any big appliance to last? To find out, we’re back in the stores.>>I’m surprised they’re so honest there.>>Tom: Yup, even sales people can’t sugercoat it. Today’s appliances have a much shorter life span and that, say our insiders, is by design too.>>At the end of the day, it’s built in obsolescence. When they say 12 years, they’re not saying 12 years problem-free, they’re saying 12 years you’re probably going to have to throw this out and inbetween that 12 years, well at 3 years you’re gonna have a problem with potentially a board. At five years you probably have to put another 300 bucks for another board. At 7 years you’re gonna have a problem with — and they don’t tell you that. How long is it going to last? Is it reliable? Nothing is reliable.>>And that’s our next secret. If you hope to keep your appliance for the long haul, keep the repairman on speed dial. Back in Milton, Mark White couldn’t afford to buy new machines.>>Whirlpool.>>Tom: How much did you end up paying for all the repairs in here.>>Over $1,300.>>Tom: And none of it under warranty, right?>>None of it.>>Tom: We asked Whirlpool to talk to us on camera about problems with their products.>>This stuff shouldn’t be breaking like as if it’s 20 years old when it’s like a year and a bit.>>Tom: They turned us down but sent us this. Whirlpool corporation has been making appliances for more than 100 years and product quality is among our top priorities.>>I believe the manufacturer should be paying for the repairs.>>Tom: Terry Lake is about to put that to the test in Vancouver.>>This is just absolutely unacceptable.>>Tom: She’s calling Samsung with an ultimatum.>>I need you to either fix this fridge or given me a fridge that doesn’t do this.>>Tom: And our insiders share one final secret.>>They can do whatever they want because they don’t have to care.>>Tom: Shopping for new appliances? Don’t get burned, find out how at cbc.ca/marketplace. (♪♪)>>Tom: We’re taking you inside the world of major home appliances. And revealing some major secrets the industry likely wants on the back burner. In Vancouver, Terry Lake’s Samsung fridge went on the fritz, months after the one-year warranty expired.>>And it drips down here.>>Tom: It’s been leaking water. And icing up.>>Now I’ve got a frost filled fridge.>>Tom: The likely cause… A design problem. And there are tons of similar complaints about Samsung online.>>They don’t seem to be any help. They don’t even acknowledge that there is a problem with this fridge.>>Tom: That’s what Samsung told her the first time she called.>>Thank you for calling Samsung.>>Tom: But Terry is not giving up.>>For home appliances please press 1. (music playing on phone)>>Tom: She thinks Samsung should cover the cost of the repair.>>I need you to either fix this fridge or give me a fridge that doesn’t do this.>>Tom: This time she gets through to the higher-ups.>>Yes.>>Okay, you bet, thanks.>>Thank you.>>Tom: When you’ve been waiting for almost a year…>>A minute or two on hold.>>Tom: What is another two minutes? (music playing on phone)>>Tom: At last.>>Tom: Some good news.>>Okay.>>Tom: How about that, Samsung comes through with a free repair but Terry wonders what took them so long?>>Um, are you aware of the problem with this fridge?>>Okay because my thought is it should be a recall because it seems like when I go on the internet everybody and their dog is having this problem.>>Tom: Hmm, Samsung is not denying there is a problem.>>So the repairman is coming and he’s asked me to shut down the fridge before he gets here so that it starts to thaw.>>Tom: We asked Samsung to come on camera. They freeze us out and send a note instead. The company says it’s committed to delivering high quality products. And is promising to offer over the phone assistance to customers with problems.>>Samsung, it’s a real shame that you didn’t come on “Marketplace” to explain your position on this and what you’re willing to do for your customers.>>Tom: The repairman installs some new parts and says that should fix the design problem.>>In the end they have done the right thing for me. You have to just keep pressuring them, that’s for sure.>>Tom: Don’t companies want to compete though? To have you as a long lasting customer and build products that do last and build loyality.>>Where’s the competition? I don’t see competition anymore, really in the end.>>Tom: That’s because despite all of the brands out there our insiders say only a handful of companies is making them.>>Tom: Same people.>>Same people.>>Tom: So you don’t have a choice; we don’t have a choice.>>Not really and I think that’s where the lack of caring starts. When all of a sudden you don’t have so many choices anymore. They can do whatever they want because they don’t have to care. Because where are you going to go? There is not many players in the game anymore.>>Tom: And that is our final repairman secret. A lack of competition means the industry has no incentive to be better. Back in Milton.>>Okay, I just got a package this morning. Oh, a light bulb from Whirlpool.>>Tom: Whirlpool is doing some repairs to their reputation. After we get involved, the company is in a hurry to please Mark White. They offer to buy back his stove even throw in a bulb for the hood.>>Oh look at that.>>Tom: He says no to the new stove but guess what? Whirlpool offers to cover his $1,300 repair bill.>>I want to say thank you very much for making me right with this.>>Tom: Our insiders Phil and Jeff hope they have done the right thing by coming forward.>>If we can help somebody make a right decision on what they’re buying and be a little more conscious about their decision, don’t be fooled by the glitz.>>Tom: Guys, thanks for sharing your stories with us. Appreciate it.>>Thanks for having us.>>Tom: Thanks. They’ve unplugged so that you can be plugged in. Next week on “Marketplace.”>>We want orange juice.>>Tom: Is it worth squeezing out extra bucks for premium orange juice.>>That’s all that’s in it. 100% orange juice.>>Tom: What some juice makers don’t want you to know.>>They don’t want this to be perceived as a heavily processed product.>>Tom: “Marketplace” viewers are freshly peeved.>>I’m angry. I feel duped.>>Tom: And help us reveal some juicy secrets.>>You let us know what do you think it is.>>Tom: One squirt at a time.>>That’s orange juice.>>That’s orange juice?>>M’hm.