What can you do when you've purchased an appliance that is a lemon?

Lemon Laws and Appliances

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Lemon Laws and Appliances

What rights do I have as a consumer? I have just called for the sixth repair on my Maytag washing machine in less than three years. The machine is four years old. Some of the replacement parts are now in need of repair.
Barb R.

Know Your State's Consumer Protection Laws

Consumer rights vary from state to state, but many have a "lemon" law. Check with your State Department of Consumer Protection to see what laws your state has and how to get help. They will investigate and help you solve the problem, but be aware that they can be very slow. You may have to "remind" them several times about follow-up. I did this when a plumber charged me for a repair I didn't need and didn't fix the real problem. It took a long time to get my money, but I did get it in the end.
Barbara in Wallingford, CT

Related: Effectively Making Consumer Complaints

Get Out Pen and Paper

I had a similar issue with my Frigidaire duel-fuel stove, a very expensive appliance. In less than four years, we had replaced the control panel three times and another very expensive part once. Not only that, but one of the cast-iron grates became badly chipped and another broke completely in half. When we asked the repair place to order us some replacements, they told us they are $100 each, so we decided to make do.

When the last repair had to be made, I was totally fed up. I wrote a very detailed and very polite letter to Frigidaire customer service. I listed the dates and everything that had gone wrong. I also sent a copy of this letter to the CEO of U.S. business for the company.

A week later, I got a call from Frigidaire (in response to the letter to the president, not to customer service). They reimbursed me for the last two repairs (more than $220) and also sent me a new grate to replace the broken one.

Write a polite and detailed letter. Phone calls and faxes are not as effective. Copy the letter to an executive. Make sure you close the letter by saying you want the opportunity to discuss the issue with the company. Writing a letter takes more time and you also have to spend some time online figuring out the people to send it to. But a couple hours of my time really paid off.
Catherine in Minneapolis

Review Your Service Contract or Warranty Info

Go to Maytag.com and contact customer service with documentation of the purchase and all the repairs. Ask them for remediation. Be specific as to what you. Many times, parts are guaranteed, not just the appliance itself.

If you have a service contract (usually purchased separately at the time of sale), read it or the warranty information carefully. Some state that if an appliance has to be repaired more than a certain number of times in a certain number of months/years, it is considered defective and they will replace or repair it at no further charge.

Interestingly enough, we have been through multiple repairs on a Maytag washer and now a dishwasher to the point where we will not purchase that name brand again. It's too bad as it used to be a top of the line company.

Reviewed October 2017

Take the Next Step

  • Review your service contract or warranty information.
  • Learn how to write a complaint letter that's sure to get a response!
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