Just conned by appliance repair guy...MAD

loves2readNovember 14, 2013

We inherited an almost new front-loading GE w/d when we bought a vacation house in FL...they seemed to work just fine but over time I discovered the fabric softener was not dispensing...cleaned it out but it still wouldn't work...so just used dryer sheets...but they don't really work as well as fabric softener in the rinse cycle...
I finally called an appliance repairman someone in my neighborhood recommended. The service call was steep--$70--but would be applied to the repair so I said OK.
He came out today and didn't even run a check on the washer for a solenoid that might be out...just told me that the entire dispenser assembly should be replaced because the fabric softener just gets everything "gunked" up down there...it would cost $300 to do that...
Well the soap and bleach work just fine so I didn't see how anything could be "gunked" up but I wasn't going to argue with him--I asked him specifically if the problem wasn't a solenoid or switch and he said no and gave me the rigamarole about the clogging...Also he was bigger than I was.

I paid the 70 and started investigating for myself.
This unit has a dispenser with a large square section to left for liquid soap and prewash and two more narrow sections for bleach (middle one) and fabric softener (far right) with individual gray lids...

Water releases from the top of the assembly into the soap chute and then from smaller hole over the bleach and should over the fabric softener--but it doesn't come out...

Looking on line it appears there is a "switch" of some sort to trigger that water release...
I don't see how anything could be "gunked up" down below when the problem is getting the water from the top to release...

I am just so mad--if I was more gullible I probably would have paid the 300 and had the work done...
before I call Better Business Bureau I want to know if what I think is the problem IS the problem...
The info on line often refers to different model of front loader w/different dispenser design...
My model is GE WCVH6800J!WW and is probably no more than 6 yrs old

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I don't see that you have any grounds for being mad or calling the better business bureau - if he had replaced the dispenser and it didn't solve the problem and then wanted to charge you for another repair, then you would have valid grounds for complaint. I guess if it was me, I would have had him do the repair and expected it to solve the problem. You had him come out to do an estimate for $70 which he did. You're assuming he misdiagnosed the problem based on some reading you did on the Internet not based on anything tangible. If you're so sure he misdiagnosed the problem, get another repair person in - then you'll have grounds for getting your $70 back.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 5:33PM
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From a Service Perspective:
$70 is not bad for a trip and diagnosis charge. We charge $89.95.
In many cases the part like a solenoid is not availabe as a single part but only as a assembly.
Also there are some cases where I know that when one part fails that you should really replace 4 or 5 parts because they all fail at approimately the same time. Whirlpool dryers are noted for if the belt breaks you really need to replace the belt, idler pully and the drum rollers all at the same time as they will all fail soon after if you don't.
Also you are paying for the knowledge and experience of the tech. The tech might have tried just replacing the solenoid in the past only to be back out at the customers house a couple months later and has learned that the highest success comes from replacing the assembly.

Yes it could be a tech ripping you off but you may want to look up the parts at the sears parts look up just to be sure.
I don't work on GE's so I don't know them well enough to quote a part. But if you can buy the part at a cheap enough price and the tech has told you what is wrong, try to do the repair your self.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sears Parts lookup

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 5:36PM
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We used to have a Kenmore front loader pair and had this exact same issue. It was a teeny, tiny spring (less than 1" long) that had broken/become disconnected, thus not allowing the softener to dispense. The spring is what flips the switch or gate to allow the softener to dispense during the rinse cycle.

You have to take the top of the washer off to repair or replace it. Once off, it's pretty easy to see if that is the issue. In our case, we paid Sears $250 to come out and re-attach a spring. In many cases, they are broken and need to be replaced. (Or so I was told.)

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 5:42PM
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"Mass-market" service techs such as A&E are under huge pressure to maintain their call volume, so are crunched for time to spend on any given job. That's not the fault of the tech person so much as the service company for which he works. Two hours on one call to observe the machine's operation to properly diagnose a fault cuts into the day's schedule and garners a reprimand, thus becoming a parts-jockey for lack of any choice.

Diagnosing a fault can be tricky. I dealt with a machine (toploader) a couple days ago that had three problems ... two related to the dispenser -- bleach not dispensing at all and the softener cup overflowing during its flush.

The bleach dispenser on it works by holding the liquid until an input of water occurs through the drain port to trigger a siphon effect and drain the tray. Water flows into the tray at the time of dispensing even if no bleach has been added, that's how it works. In this case water would flow in but not drain back out.

The water supply there has some mineral content so I figured some residue had built-up clogging both the softener and bleach outlets. Disassembled to check, found nothing clogged. I cleaned the relatively light liming residue that had occurred. Bleach dispenser still didn't drain. Pulled it apart again, found one of the hoses in the drain path had an accumulation of black mold, enough to block the siphon effect.

The softener dispenser was partially overflowing its outer cover instead of overflowing just into the inner cup and draining only out the bottom because of the machine being off-level just enough to skew the inner cup overflow to one side instead of evenly around.

This post was edited by dadoes on Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 18:07

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 6:05PM
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$95 to roll a truck in my neighborhood. 70 bucks is cheap.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 6:41PM
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the $70 for the service call is not the main problem
that could be the going rate for this area--I don't know cause he is the only person I called...
I paid for a diagnosis of the problem--I didn't get that--

I just think he was taking the easy way out in telling me to replace the entire dispenser assembly--doing that would have saved him time and effort and likely cost me more money than opening up the top and looking for a spring that was out or running a diagnostic and tracking down the problem
Water NOT coming down from the dispenser's top has nothing to do with fabric softener "gunking up" the bottom...
there is nothing wrong with the bottom of this dispenser--I checked it out by running a cycle w/o the dispenser in and watching the water run from two top openings into what would be the detergent and bleach sections...
the issue is with the TOP not the bottom of the dispenser assembly...which is something he made NO mention of...he didn't even take it out and LOOK at the water running into the dispenser...

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Your right he probably conned you...
He he has run into the exact same issue several times before and based his diagnosis on his experience with this product.

As a tech I can run 8 to 10 service calls a day so that is 40 to 50 calls per week or 2500 calls per year. Many times I can give an accurate diagnosis and an estimated cost of repair with-in the 1st 5-10 minutes in the home.
On issues that are not very common this diagnosis will take longer but on issues I see 3 or 4 times a week the diagnosis is very quick.

This post was edited by jakvis on Thu, Nov 14, 13 at 21:13

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 9:07PM
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2read - I feel your frustration , but if you'll read btw the lines of jakvis' posts- this is the state of the service industry.

Let's look at it the way you feel it should run: Tech comes and takes apart the machine looking for your needle in the haystack.

You are responsible for all of the tech's time from the moment he leaves the shop or his last call till he buttons back up the appliance and gives you a written estimate, OK ?

Leaves the shop to come to your place at 1:45 and he runs into an accident like we had in North ATL today at 2 pm. It was a 7 car + semi pileup that closed all 4 or 5 lanes plus the emergency lane - until 4:15pm when one lane open and lasted until 6 pm. He fights through that mess to arrive at your place at 4:30 when he starts to dissemble your machine which takes an hour and finds that there is x wrong with your machine. He then call parts to inquire about availability and price and waits on hold for 17 minutes and talks with the rep for another 13 minutes sorting out which variant is needed because there are three different ones for your model. ( That little bit just cost you 50 bucks itself - because the hourly billable rate is not $70 - it's $100 - the $70 is diagnostic lost leader price).

At this point you are now obligated for $150 plus the travel time of $300. Suppose I'm generous and only charge you 30 minutes travel time = $50 for a total of $200 to open up the appliance and trouble shoot and run your diagnostic ? This still leaves you with a broken machine and it's now in pieces. Want him to re-assemble it at another hour for an additional $100 ? Even at $70 - you're still into it at $140 and still have a broken machine. Suppose you paid that only to find out the part needing replacing costs $335, plus shipping, plus two hours labor to install it ? You can buy lot of machines for $500 !

The easy way out , saving time and effort seems like a pretty good deal now - doesn't it ? Is it ideal ? Not really, but it's the market we live in now, because MOST people are going to balk at jakvis telling you " I don't know how long it's going to take me to figure out what's wrong with your machine or what the part will cost when I do find out what's wrong, but you just pay me $89.95 for as long as I'm here, OK ? "

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 10:55PM
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These days, the philosophy is replace not repair. Often it is cheaper to replace an appliance than repair - we live in a throwaway society. Many people don't even bother calling a repairman after the warranty runs out, they just buy a new appliance.

As jakvis said, this applies to components as well. Sometimes it's easier/cheaper to replace a whole component, even if theoretically you could disassemble the component and replace a cheaper part.

I have no idea if your repairman was scamming you, but you don't know either. You were obviously expecting it to be a small cheap part, but these days it doesn't work that way.

$300 for the total job (assuming that it solved the problem) is not a bad deal.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2013 at 11:52PM
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we live in a throwaway society.

Yes, and it's a shame.

it's easier/cheaper to replace a whole component,

True also. Because we live in an society with a high standard of living, people performing work expect to be paid for their time and sometimes expertise. This doesn't lend itself to spending lots of trying to figure out what's wrong with something because the end user starts to balk at the cost of such service relative to the cost of the item even before depreciation is calculated.

You were obviously expecting it to be a small cheap part

It may have been, but " it's the economy stupid" or more precisely labor. If that 43 cent nylon bushing that wore out is located deep inside the unit behind three other sub assemblies; it will take a long time to get to that 43 cents can easily turn into a $400 bushing unless you have BOTH the time and knowledge to replace it yourself. Then your direct cost would only be 43 cents.

If you don't have both those things , then you'll need to pay someone who does have those, just like you'd pay someone to build your house, set your child's broken arm, or grow/raise your food.

None of those take real quantitative rocket science mental faculties or exceptionally fine motor skills - so you could theoretically perform those tasks yourself. But you don't. And, do not think twice about it. Or, feel ripped off by the providers of those goods and services.

It's all perception.

This post was edited by xedos on Sat, Nov 16, 13 at 15:45

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 10:13AM
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I'm asked all the time by the customer "is this something I can do/" and my answer is almost always yes. But I also go on to explain that many times what takes me 25 minutes to do may take 4 hours or more to do by a person who has never done the procedure before or does not own the special tools that allow me work work fast and efficient or the proprietary tools that are required to work on that device. I also warranty my work and the parts that I use.

Most techs are not out there to see how much money they can get for the job but actually think more of how can I complete this job at the lowest costs for the customer.
Example: I used to rebuild/repack gas valves on ranges. It takes 45 to 60 minutes to do this properly. But several years ago I realized my labor costs for this were for more expesive than the cost of a new valve. So now I replace the valve unless I'm working on a vintage product where the valve is no longer available.

I, like most servicers, want my customers to know that I'm looking out for them because I do rely on repeat business and word of mouth advertising.

Does my training and expertise cost money? Yes it does. Along with my back office, parts stock, truck, fuel, etc.
Can I do the job cheaper? yes I can ! Bring your washer to my shop and you will save the costs of a trip charge and just be charged $29.95 for the diagnosis and whatever additional parts and labor. But then there is the 30 minutes you took to unhook it load it into a truck, 30 minutes to drive to my shop and drop it off, then picking it back up and taking it back home.
I'm just saying there is a cost to everything but I encourge you to do what is most cost efficient for you.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2013 at 11:04AM
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