Major appliance return policies (US retailers): 2013 summer

studio460June 24, 2013

1. Home Depot

If ordered online, you must call the special online customer service number. Their sole mission is to discourage you from returning the product. Ultimately, according to script and published Home Depot policy, acceptance of returns of major appliances is handled by a store location's service desk. Once you deliver the product to the store, a store employee will contact an internal online number. The online staffer will inform the store employee that the major appliance may only be returned with the approval of either the store's shift manager, or general manager.

Initially, when I first contacted the Home Depot online CSR, she stated, "washing machines are non-returnable." However, the specifications for my machine explicitly stated: "Returnable--90 days." Nowhere is the general statement, "washing machines are non-returnable" published anywhere on the bill of lading, online sales order, or anywhere on the Home Depot website. In general, Home Depot accepts returns for 90 days with certain exceptions (e.g., cut flowers, tractors, etc.).

Although major appliances are not listed in the published exceptions, most washer/dryers on the Home Depot site explicitly state in their online-published specifications: "Returnable--No."

a.) No mention is made anywhere of a 15% or 20% re-stocking fee. One store employee attempted to seize a 20% re-stocking fee; another attempted a 15% re-stocking fee. This is quickly quashed by stating that nowhere is such a re-stocking fee indicated in their return policy, on their bill of sale, or anywhere on their website.

b.) Home Depot's online CSR will insist that washer/dryers are un-returnable after 48-hours. This is inaccurate. Only damage incurred during shipping/delivery must be reported within 48 hours.

c.) IMPORTANT: again, most of the washer/dryers listed on Home Depot's site explicitly state that they are not returnable under the "specifications" tab in the product description. Read this section carefully when considering your purchase. The exception in my particular case was claimed a "typo." I countered, "That's not my problem."

2. Lowes:

a.) Quoted from Lowes' return policy: "30 days on major appliances (including but not limited to refrigerators 9 cubic feet or larger, washing machines, dryers and range hoods), outdoor power equipment (including but not limited to mowers, chain saws, generators, pressure washers, trimmers and blowers) and highway trailers."

b.) No time frame is given for reporting damge incurred during shipping/delivery (only a phone number is provided).

c.) No mention is made of any re-stocking fees.

3. Sears:

a.) From Sears' published online return policy: "Major home appliances: 60 days."
b.) Damage incurred during shipping/delivery must be reported within 72 hours.
c.) Any delivery charges will not be refunded.

Sears explicitly states a 15% "usage/re-stocking fee" only for mattresses and foundations, but makes to mention of such fees pertaining to major appliance purchases.

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Lowe's was pretty great, when I returned a Samsung W & D years ago. Sears was AWFUL!! Luckily, I had my online "chat" saved, with the live operator telling me I could return my Electrolux W & D with no-re-stock fee. They fought me hard, picked up my units and charged me a re-stock fee. I contested it with American Express, and eventually won. I hate Sears!!!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 8:03AM
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So, were you successful returning the LG to Home Depot without being assessed a restocking fee?

Edited to add: I see in another thread you returned the machine successfully.

This post was edited by knot2fast on Mon, Jun 24, 13 at 10:27

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:03AM
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Yes, we were, thank you. It was no picnic, but it got done. The Home Depot online CSR was the most beliigerent, clearly operating from a very tightly scripted protocol. Most annoyingly, she kept making statements which were either irrelevant, unrelated, inaccurate, or completely false, all in an effort to dissuade the customer from returning the product.

But a simple read-through of the entire return policy quickly made everything clear. While Home Depot's major-appliance return policy is among the most-restrictive, they still leave a lot of details unspecified, and therefore, "unprotected," from the retailer's point of view.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 4:53PM
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Really? I didn't expect that from Sears. Though, I totally wasn't expecting all the bull sh*t I went through with Home Depot either. Documenting anything which supports your return is essential to a smooth return process. I even "print-screened" certain pages, just in case they changed the information on their site in the interim.

Also, knowing the store's published return polices in detail really helps. In my case, every time someone brought up an issue ("not returnable," "20% re-stocking fee," etc.), I simply showed them the product-specific screen I printed out from their website which said, "returnable--90 days." I also knew that nowhere in the policy are major appliances excepted, and that there is not a single mention of re-stocking fees. Oddly, Home Depot is the most vague among other major retailers on many of these issues, leaving the bulk of the negotiations up to the specific store manager's discretion.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 5:08PM
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That said, I was completely willing to compensate Home Depot for their "free delivery," which obviously has some cost attached to it. The Home Depot manager which approved my return did so almost without hesitation, although he did make a mild attempt at charging me a 20% re-stocking fee (to which I replied, there's no mention of any such fee in your return policy, to which he immediately relented).

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 6:12PM
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I had the best experience with Sears just this past week. I decided to return an LG W/D and they came and picked it up - no problem. It was 29 days. They said I had 30. No restock fee, but I did of course not get refunded the original delivery fee. There was also some misc $10 charge which I should ask about, but since it was so hassle free, I'm inclined to just ignore it.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 7:32PM
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Good to hear it, laurat88! I'm really liking the all-white Sears Kenmore (manufactured by LG) washer/driers. They're very pretty. The only thing stopping me is Sears' pricey extended warranties.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2013 at 10:50PM
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I had a horrible experience with Sears trying to exchange a washer about 6-7 years ago. Took months to resolve, many hours on the phone with them lying to me at every turn. Truly nightmarish. I will never buy another thing from Sears.

About 5 years ago I had a good experience with Best Buy. The machine they delivered was DOA. When I called, first they wanted to go down the repair route. When I politely but firmly told them I wanted them to exchange it instead, they did without hassle.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 12:09AM
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Hmmm . . . we're about to purchase a Kenmore washer/dryer pair, and obviously, our only retail option is Sears. Was your exchange within the (at the time) specified return period? According to Sears' website, the current return policy for major appliances allows for a refund or exchange within 60 days of purchase. Is there any advice you have so that I might avoid any of the potential issues which both you and larsi appeared to have with Sears?

This post was edited by studio460 on Wed, Jun 26, 13 at 3:05

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 2:58AM
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Studio, well my advice would be to avoid Sears. If you must buy from Sears, buy from a local store and not online like I did. At least then you can go into the store and make a fuss if you have to. I don't know if that would've made any difference for me or not.

To answer your question, I'm honestly not sure if I was within the 60 days when I asked for an exchange, it's been several years. I'm sure I was when I first started complaining to them about the washer, but they would only attempt to repair it at first. The issue I was having was from day 1.

Here's my very long story, if you care to read it. It was a Kenmore Oasis. The problem I had was that it wouldn't produce warm water. I lived in South Florida, and my cold tap water was in the mid 70s. Cold and warm gave me essentially the same temperature water in that machine. I now believe this is the way the machine was designed, and it wasn't actually malfunctioning. 70 something degrees is not a warm wash IMO though.

Anyway so after several failed attempts to repair it by A&E that stretched over several weeks (horrible IMO, and I'm by far not the only one who thinks this) I insisted on a new machine. By then the exact model number was no longer available. After many hours on the phone they finally agreed to replace it with the next model up. Because it was a different model they claimed that they couldn't process it as an exchange, they would have to charge me for the new machine and then refund the first one. I asked if the delivery guys were going to know it was an exchange and not a normal delivery/haul away and I was assured they would.

Well of course when the replacement machine showed up the delivery guys had no record of it being an exchange. I hand wrote it on on the paper they had me sign. They seemed very to perk up when I told them it was an exchange, and one of them was very interested in knowing what was wrong with it. One of the 2 guys did hand me a business card with his name on it, which would turn out to be important later.

A number of weeks later I called Sears wondering where my refund was. They had no record of my returned machine, claimed I still had it. I said no, the delivery guys took it. They were treating me like I was lying, so I said here's the guy's name, why don't you go ask him what happened to the machine. (I have a pretty good idea what happened to it, what do you think?)

Anyway, I finally had to get my credit card company involved, and then I finally got my refund. Each time I called sears I got the run around. I'm not exaggerating when I say it took months and hours on the phone. Each time I would call they would put me on hold while they would read the very long notes entered in my file by previous people I had talked to. I can only imagine the things they said about me. I was never rude to them, I never yelled. One time when I asked for a supervisor I was put on hold for over 3 hours. I put the phone on speaker and did other things while waiting. The supervisor seemed quite surprised (and annoyed) I was still there when she finally came on the line.

Another weird thing happened during that time. We had previously bought a Kenmore dishwasher and refrigerator, and the extended warranty that goes with them. You're supposed to be entitled to an annual check of the machines. One of the door bins in the fridge had a crack, and the dishwasher rack had a couple of places it had started to rust, so I decided to have them out to look at them. Right away the repair guy agrees to order the parts, no problem. The parts never came. I called several times, each time I was told they would order the parts, but they never did. It may sound a bit paranoid, but it kind of makes me think there was something in my file telling them not to honor my requests. We then moved out of state so I dropped the issue with the dishwasher & fridge.

So, if you've managed to read that whole long story, THAT is why I will never buy another thing from Sears.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 6:57AM
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I'll never allow Sears service people in my house again if I can help it.

I bought a GE refrigerator from The Great Indoors (an upscale home store owned by Sears). When it needed out of warrantee service, I called the store where I purchased it for a recommendation. They suggested Sears repair service.

Sears repair came out and replaced a couple of thermistors, charged me a bunch of money, and left saying that should fix the problem. Of course it didn't.

I eventually contacted GE and they sent GE repair service out. The GE service diagnosed the problem and replaced the offending part. He said the thermistors were not implicated by their diagnosis and they could be independently tested if needed. The Sears service didn't test them. They just replaced them and left.

With a working refrigerator, I called Sears and requested a refund for all or part of the service call that was wholly ineffective and bordering on incompetent. I wanted a complete refund but after talking my way around their various corporate offices and supervisors I was willing to settle for a refund for the parts only. I'd pay them for the service call, even if it did nothing to help. I didn't want to pay for parts that weren't needed and didn't fix the problem, especially after the GE diagnosis that didn't implicate the thermistors at all.

Ultimately I was denied any refund at all. I remained polite but determined the whole time. At the end I mentioned I'd be telling everyone I could about my terrible Sears repair experience and she sort of lost her cool and told me I should do just that.

So here it is.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2013 at 1:28PM
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Wow! Those stories are unbelievable! Thanks for taking the time to detail those accounts. I know from my recent Home Depot online purchase, that their website CSRs' sole mission is to re-direct the caller to a local store manager, so they're completely ineffective in solving any issues directly.

Previously, we bought our original LG machines, also from Home Depot, and the washer required a warranty repair call early on (black marks on clothes). I believe we called LG. The service vendor came, replaced the drum on their second visit, and the problem was resolved. Just recently, one of the roller bearings wore out on our now, out-of-warranty LG dryer (we didn't buy any service contracts), and then I found, and fixed it myself for $8.00.

So, reading stories such as yours has prepared me to rely on my own handyman skills, and, for any potential service issues we may encounter. Especially since Sears' service contracts are so expensive ($300+ per machine).

This post was edited by studio460 on Thu, Jun 27, 13 at 6:17

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 6:07AM
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knot2fast, I am with you. My experience with Sears repair service was terrible. I not only refuse to shop at Sears I tell everyone I can to avoid them. Once upon a time they were a good company but that time has come and gone and now they're absolutely awful. Terrible customer service. I had two bad run-ins over our riding lawn mower and our old washer. That was enough for me.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 10:14AM
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Sorry to hear of your problems! I purchased a special order oven from HH Gregg. It was delivered the Monday before Thanksgiving. I tried to use it that evening and there was an issue with the sensors. I called the salesperson we worked with and he had the broken one removed, a floor model delivered so I could make Thanksgiving dinner and put a rush on the new replacement. All with no hassle or fees. I didn't have to deal with customer service and wasn't required to get it serviced. I was amazed!

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:45AM
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I did in fact have a very positive experience with Sears once (which I mentioned in another thread here). It was a damage claim made upon delivery (an extremely small scratch on the back of a cooktop--barely noticeable). The delivery person immediately got Sears on the phone, and I was offered a $200 credit to my card on the spot for the $1,000 KitchenAId cooktop. I took the deal. Perhaps damage-on-delivery claims are more often easily accommodated than complete returns/exchanges. Most likely because the customer still retains the "power" to refuse delivery.

This post was edited by studio460 on Fri, Jun 28, 13 at 22:33

    Bookmark   June 27, 2013 at 11:16PM
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Im honestly amazed that they even accept returns on washing machines since they cant be resold without a huge discount. I can understand if it was defective but just because you made a poor choice or just dont like the choice you made is incredible that they would take a huge loss just for your satisfaction. They obviously take very few back to be able to do that. Small independent appliance stores simply couldnt do that on any large scale.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 8:50AM
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We have been long, loyal Sears customers. In our old kitchen we had a Kenmore range, dishwasher, refrigerator, garbage disposal, and even the vacuum cleaner was Kenmore. We also had an old Kenmore washer/dryer - one of the original front loaders that I actually really like despite the fact that it didn't have an onboard water heater. We have had nothing but positive experiences with Sears repair as well. We had to have a belt replaced on the dryer and a new power cord on the dishwasher (due to my error). They were prompt, courteous and reasonably priced. Since we are remodeling, I decided to get a new washer dryer so opted for an LG. I asked them not to take away my old Kenmore. The LG was too big for my small space, was very noisy and my clothes started to pill. and I just was much happier with my old smaller Kenmore. We'll keep it until it dies out or until I can afford a Miele which will fit my space. Sorry to hear others had bad experiences. But I have been more than happy with Sears.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 1:38PM
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Fordtech, instead of being amazed they accept returns on washing machines, perhaps you should be amazed stores like Home Depot have a written policy that allows them for non-defective washers.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:56AM
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"Im honestly amazed that they even accept returns on washing machines since they cant be resold without a huge discount. I can understand if it was defective but just because you made a poor choice or just dont like the choice you made is incredible that they would take a huge loss just for your satisfaction. They obviously take very few back to be able to do that. Small independent appliance stores simply couldnt do that on any large scale."

I don't think anyone returns a major appliance for the fun of it. Often a customer will call for service on an appliance only to be told by the technician that it is "normal" ... it's normal that your clothes are all tangled up, it's normal that your compressor is making a screeching sound, it's normal that your washer doesn't get your clothes clean, it's normal that your clothes are still wet after the spin cycle ... etc., etc.

Sometimes it is better to return and under-performing or badly-performing appliance as soon as you realize there is a problem. Why shouldn't the manufacturers take them back? Consumers have a reasonable expectation of what their appliances should do. If the appliance doesn't meet that expectation, it SHOULD go back to the manufacture and they should suffer the loss. Why should the consumer get stuck with it? If an appliance doesn't work as it should, the customer shouldn't be blamed for making a "poor choice."

    Bookmark   July 11, 2013 at 1:03PM
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