On November 30, 2008, I purchased a Maytag Electric Dryer from George Bailey at the CambridgeSide Galleria Sears store. The unit was a floor model that came with the full manufacturer's warranty.
This machine exhibited the following characteristics when used:
"¢ the lint filter collected almost no lint after drying a load of clothes
"¢ the vent hose and vent hood frequently became obstructed by lint and needed constant cleaning
"¢ as a result of the lint blockage in the vent, the dryer usually does not dry clothes in a single cycle
This dryer is the third unit to operate in this location, and neither of the previous dryers did this – both of them collected lint on the lint trap and did not clog the vent line. There has been no change in the vent setup for the new unit.
On November 11 of this year I placed a service call on the unit. Both of the people I spoke with informed me that the unit was still covered by the manufacturer's warranty and there would be no charge for the service call. The service call was scheduled for the morning of November 16.
Shortly after 8 AM on the 16th the technician scheduled to make the call phoned. Initially he spoke with Denise Heintze, one of the residents who typically uses the dryer. The technician expressed concern about parking in Cambridge, claiming that it was difficult to find parking there and that she should make sure he had a place to park. The technician then stated that he could tell from the notes of the service call that there was no fault with the dryer and the cause of the problem was in the vent. The technician dismissed the possibility that the wrong lint filter was in the machine as "impossible" despite the fact that Mr. Bailey suggested this as a possibility – bear in mind that this was a floor model and the lint filter could have been switched with another unit while the model was on display.
I got on the phone at that point. The technician stated that problems with the vent system were not covered and I would have to pay for the service call. I attempted to explain that the lint filter did not seem to be operating properly, but the technician informed me that the lint filter could not function properly if the vent was blocked. Again I attempted to explain to the technician that even after cleaning the vent line the lint filter failed to collect lint; however the technician hung up on me at that point.
I then called the original number I used to place the service call and spoke to a representative about the situation. I was placed on hold for several minutes and ultimately disconnected. I called back and spoke to another representative, explaining the whole situation once again. This time I was successfully connected with a person by the name of Valerie who said she worked for A&E Appliance Repair. I explained the situation once again. Valerie was helpful and assisted me in lodging a formal complaint against the technician and requesting to be contacted by a service manager. I have yet to be contacted by any manager from A&E about this incident, however I did receive a message from someone at A&E confirming that this was in fact their policy; the presence of any sort of screen over the vent opening will prevent the lint filter from operating properly and this is not therefore covered by the Maytag warranty.
Shortly after I placed that call, the technician called me and asked me to turn the dryer on and let it run until he arrived. The technician arrived at about 9:20 AM. I met him at the street and told him that I had already filed a complaint about his behavior and that under no circumstances would I pay for the service call. He accompanied me to the location of the dryer, opened the door of the unit and informed me that I had to produce a sales receipt or he could not do anything. I replied that everyone I had dealt with to date was fully aware of the date of purchase and I had never been told I would need to provide proof of purchase prior to service. He then disconnected the vent hose from the vent hood and informed me that since there was screen (1/4 inch hardware cloth) over the vent to prevent birds and other animals from entering, the warranty was not in effect. He further told me that this was clearly stated in the dryer instructions. I have since read the materials included with the dryer twice and do not find this statement in the text anywhere. The technician stated that all I had to do was remove the hardware cloth from the vent and there would be no problem. I explained that I did not feel that letting all the lint simply blow out of the vent was an adequate solution. If the machine has a lint filter the implication is that it is meant to collect lint. If the lint filter is not collecting lint it is reasonable to assume it is not working properly.
I tried to point out that lint which did not collect in the lint trap – which has a screen approximately the size of normal window screen – was not likely to collect on a screen with a mesh many times larger than the lint screen. The technician asked me how long I thought he had been servicing appliances, informed me that I simply was not listening to him, and repeated that he would not be able to do anything for me. I tried again to explain my point of view, but it was obviously pointless and I told him he might as well leave.
At that point I called the A&E number again and spoke with someone else (I did not get a name). She connected me to the escalation department where I filed another complaint. I was contacted shortly afterward by someone from the Sears consumer office. This person offered to arrange another service call with a different technician. I replied that I would first like to speak to a knowledgeable technician with a positive attitude in order to determine exactly what the policy is and to understand why a dryer with a lint trap that does not trap lint is not defective. The Sears consumer office is looking into this and has promised to get back to me. I have not heard from them yet.
The technician's behavior bordered on abusive from the first moment he called. It is clear to me that he had no intention of fixing the problem from the outset and was only interested in either shifting the blame for the problem from Sears to me or extorting additional money from me to repair the problem.
I have been dealing with Sears and with George Bailey for almost twenty years now. I own several properties and have purchased a number of major appliances over the years. Because of Mr. Bailey's consistently fine service, I have developed a strong customer loyalty to him and to Sears. One of the things that contributed to this has been Sears' track record of excellent service. I am hoping that this recent experience is an aberration and that this situation will be resolved satisfactorily. If this is typical of the current service available from Sears, then I am not sure if I want to continue shopping there. There are a number of places where appliances can be purchased in this area, and if Sears is no longer to be distinguished from the others by the quality of service, then I am not sure that I want to continue to do business with your company.
I look forward to a reply and a resolution of this problem.
NOTE: On 11/18/2009 I mailed a copy of this letter to:
100 Cambridgeside Place
Cambridge, MA 02141
Mary Ellen Grigoriadis
100 Cambridgeside Place
Cambridge, MA 02141
206 Rt. 125
Kingston, NH 03848
I have yet to be contacted by anyone from Sears regarding my complaint.
On 12/8/09, having heard nothing from Sears as a result of the letters I sent, I went to the Cambridgeside Galleria Sears and spoke with Jazz, the manager on duty at that time. I explained what had happened and gave him a copy of the letter. He assured me he would contact the appropriate people and get back to me the next day. To his credit – Jazz is the only person from Sears ever to contact me in connection with this situation – he did call me the next day and told me he had called and sent email to Joseph Merullo and I should be contacted shortly.
Later in the week I received a call from someone who identified themselves as Sears Service. This person set up a service call for the following Monday 12/14/09. I asked if he needed any information about the problem and he said he did not and that they would fix the problem when they arrived.
On Monday morning I received a call from a technician to confirm the address. This technician then asked me if anyone had discussed how much the call would cost me. I explained to him that I did not intend to pay anything and told him why. He replied that he would check with his management.
A short time later I was called by a woman dispatcher from A&E Appliance Service who asked me if anything was wrong. I told her that in my opinion there was a great deal wrong and began to explain again why. She replied that she did not have to listen to my complaints and asked me if I wanted a service call or not. I told her to do as she pleased, since I would complain to Sears in any case - however this is apparently an empty threat.
Soon after this a manager from A&E called and asked me if I had removed the screen from my vent. I said I had not and had no intention of doing so. He said that there was nothing he could do in that case. I asked him to explain to me the physical logic of his claim that the Â¼ inch hardware cloth covering the exit of the dryer vent could prevent the lint filter from functioning. He said he was sorry but that was the way it was. I told him I would complain to Sears and we ended the call.
At that point I went to the Cambridgeside Sears and spoke with a manager named Angel. He told me he would inform Jazz that I had been back and they would try to find a solution to my problem. After hearing nothing from anyone at Sears for a week, I called George Bailey's cell phone and left a message asking him to contact me in the hope of resolving the issue. I have never heard anything from anyone at Sears since then.
Since it was eminently clear that Sears was not going to take any steps to honor the warranty on my dryer, I decided to take it apart myself to find what was wrong and hopefully fix the problem.
I discovered that the problem was a combination of poor design and a faulty part. The lint filter on this dryer is the type that slides into a slot on the top of the cabinet. The bottom of the filter is square and when fully inserted butts up against a shoulder that is formed into the sheet metal of the internal dryer vent. This bottom of the lint filter is plastic, and in my case was deformed. The air pressure caused by the blower made this piece bend further, allowing a clear channel for air to escape without passing through the lint filter.
I installed a flat metal plate in such a way that it formed a channel into which the bottom of the lint filter fit when fully inserted, thus preventing the bottom of the filter from deforming in use. The dryer now operates perfectly – the lint filter collects lint as it should, no lint passes through the filter and clogs the vent line, and the clothes are dried in a reasonable amount of time.
This proves, to me at least, that I was correct from the start in my assertion that this problem was with the dryer and not with the vent as the repair technicians insisted. Had anyone from A&E made even the most cursory examination of the machine, this would have been clear. Instead they chose to use an absurd and ultimately unfounded excuse to refuse to do what they should have done. I do realize that they would not have been expected to install the piece of metal that I installed to solve the problem, but it is very likely that a replacement lint filter would also have solved the problem.