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  • We bought a new washer and paid 35% less than MSRP

    As I’ve discussed previously, our washer was going to need replacing sooner rather than later. It turned out to be later than I thought it was going to be, and for a new problem rather than the one that had a repairman at our house six times last year. Two Fridays ago, the tub simply stopped spinning. It was time to get a new washer.

    My husband and I had previously discussed where we would buy our washer when the time came. We had ruled out Best Buy and Circuit City, based on all of the negative experiences we’ve read across the web, and we weren’t crazy about Sears either (even though we bought a new fridge from them last year without a problem). It just so happened that earlier in the week, I had read some comments on where to buy a new appliance on this thread at The Consumerist, and the numerous suggestions on buying from a locally owned store persuaded me that was the way to go.

    So the next day we went to a fairly large local store, where my in laws had purchased all new kitchen appliances a year or two ago. I asked some questions, narrowed our choices down to two models, one GE and one Maytag, and asked the salesman to write the model numbers down so I could research them. That night, we looked the models up online and found many complaints about the GE and few about the Maytag. So even though the Maytag cost $220 more, we decided to go with the Maytag. I went back to the store on Sunday and made the purchase (they don’t do phone orders). The store’s price was also the MSRP: $999. Because they didn’t have any in stock, the salesman gave me the choice of ordering it and waiting until Saturday for delivery or buying the floor model at a $70 discount. (Note: I probably should have taken FMF’s advice and asked if he could do better.) I really didn’t want to go a whole week without a washer, and I liked the discount, so I took the floor model. It was delivered this past Wednesday and seems to work fine – I’ll post a review of it after I’ve used it for a while.

    Because it’s a high-efficiency model, the washer is eligible for a $250 rebate from LA DWP and a $35 rebate from The Southern California Gas Co. That reduces the original price of $999 to $644. I’m considering the cost as charged to our tax rebate.

    My experience with a home protection plan (aka home warranty) + an update on our washer

    When we bought our townhouse, our agent made sure it came with a home warranty from American Home Shield. We had been told during the inspection that the air conditioning unit was old and would need to be replaced sooner rather than later. Sure enough, during that first year of home ownership, our air conditioner died. AHS sent out a technician who went up to the roof, saw that ours was the only unit that hadn’t been replaced, and said, “You need a new one.” It wasn’t long before we had a new unit, which needed to be installed with the use of a crane.

    It turned out that shortly before we got our new air conditioner, my in laws got a new air conditioner as well, and also needed a crane for installation. When all was said and done, they had paid many thousands for their new air conditioner and its installation. We paid a service fee of $45 and something like $90 for the disposal of the old freon.

    Notwithstanding the complaints I heard from friends about the shortcomings of their home protection plan (which usually involved a “this isn’t covered”), AHS seemed like a pretty good deal to us.

    It’s now several years later and we’ve had many more experiences with AHS. We don’t really have any major complaints – the work that hasn’t been covered is clearly stated as not covered in the written contract. And the work that has been covered has been fine. What we’ve discovered, though, is that there’s a fair number of things that aren’t covered, as stated in the contract.

    The Washer Update
    And then there’s our washer. When I mentioned previously that we’ve had someone out to fix it multiple times, I was referring to someone sent out by AHS, since our washer is a covered appliance. The service fee is now $55, so each visit that’s occurred more than 30 days after the last one has cost $55 (visits within 30 days of the first visit are covered by that service fee). As I said, they’ve been out multiple times for the same problem. The washer is very old, but it does work fine after it’s been repaired, at least for a while. But even though the same technician has come out, he’s never once suggested that a new washer might be in order. (Part of the warranty is that if the appliance is not repairable, they’ll replace it.)

    I didn’t feel that I could legitimately argue with the technician that he needed to tell AHS they owe us a new washer. After all, the washer is technically repairable. But I also wasn’t going to keep paying $55 every couple of months. At this point, Marc and I both reviewed the AHS contract and decided that it was no longer worth keeping. So I called AHS and was transferred to the retention department.

    I explained the problem and the representative, let’s call her Virginia, said she could see from their records that we had indeed requested a technician for the same problem six times in the last year. She also noted that we had been good customers for years and said she didn’t want to lose us over this. She asked if I would give her a chance to see what she could do. Since there’s only a couple of months left on our contract and our refund would be small, I said yes.

    Virginia was supposed to call me back but didn’t. I had to call her. At least she’d given me a direct number. She said that she’d spoken to several technicians and none of them could offer a good cause for the problem, except that perhaps I was improperly loading the washer and causing it to go out of balance. I told her that wasn’t the case, so she said she would send me two service fee coupons and that the next time I needed a repair, I should call her directly so that she could arrange for a different technician to come out. And I could pay with one of the coupons. All of this contingent on me not canceling the contract. I agreed.

    So that’s where we stand now. The washer will probably need repairing in the next 3 to 6 weeks, if history is any indication. I’ve decided that I’ll give AHS til the end of the current contract to either permanently fix the washer (which probably isn’t possible, given that the contract expires in two months) or to give me a new washer. If neither of those things happens, I won’t be renewing with them.

    In the meantime, I’ve discovered that buying an Energy-Star rated washer (like the one pictured from Sears) would get me a $250 rebate from LA DWP.

    We are (probably) going to buy a new washer soon (very soon)

    So for the last few months, our very old washer (which came with the house and is probably close to 30 years old) has been getting unbalanced. By “unbalanced,” I mean the legs become uneven, causing the washer to rumble very loudly and travel back and forth in its corner between the wall and the dryer. We have had it repaired several times, including the installation of a new set of legs and a new set of pads, which did extend the time between unbalancing incidents long enough for me to think that perhaps the problem had been solved. But alas, the washer unbalanced again this past week so I think we’ve had the repairman out for the last time. The next time this happens – and if history holds true, it’ll probably happen again within a couple of months – we’ll be buying a new washer.

    Which leads me to research. Only I’m not sure where to begin. Marc tells me that he keeps reading HE washers don’t really clean clothes, which is obviously a problem. My priorities are effectiveness, energy efficiency, and cost. And a large capacity would be wonderful too, but isn’t a necessity.

    I’m also debating whether to buy a new dryer. It’s not that we really need one but our current one is as old as the washer, which leads me to believe it’s not very energy efficient. And, as silly as this may sound, I’d prefer it if our washer and dryer matched.

    Any suggestions or ideas to get me started? Thanks!