My refrigerator is cursed – can you lift the spell?

Question: I bought a refrigerator from Best Buy a few years ago. The first

Mark Sinderson/Flickr Creative Commons
fridge had a problem that could not be fixed, so it was replaced under warranty. The second fridge had a construction problem (that wasn’t noticed prior to delivery because apparently products are not given a visual examination before leaving the warehouse). And the third fridge, which was delivered in February 2012, died almost a month ago.

In the interim there have been repeated appointments with Best Buy’s outsourced service company, including many missed appointments on their end, multiple deliveries — including deliveries where the fridge was either forgotten or broken on delivery — and damage to our kitchen from the most recent delivery.

As the new replacement fridge we ordered could not be obtained quickly (note that we had booked delivery for Oct. 13 but just found out that this would be delayed — although no one called us to let us know), someone in customer service recommended that my pregnant wife and I get a small fridge at Best Buy for the interim, as being without a new fridge for so long is unreasonable, even if my wife weren’t pregnant. Best Buy told me to return the unit within 30 days per its normal return policy.

We did that, but we are not going to get the replacement fridge within that 30-day period, and who knows how long it will be, given the company’s track record of failed deliveries in the past.

I called the company 800-number for Best Buy, but the person I spoke to said I had to call the store to try to extend the return date. When I called the store I was told nothing could be done because the computer system will not accept a return after 30 days. Help!

Stephen Ashley, New York

Answer: I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. Your refrigerator is cursed. I think you need to get rid of it immediately.

There’s no way you could have anticipated this, except maybe by researching the particular unit you planned to buy, and seeing that it had problems. Even so, how could you have known Best Buy’s delivery guys would damage your kitchen? It’s just not possible to predict some things.

But at some point during this process (maybe a few years ago) you should have let Best Buy know how unhappy you were with the unit, and with the non-solutions it was offering.

Best Buy’s emails follow the format. Maybe Hubert Joly, the new CEO, would have taken an interest in your case. (And if he doesn’t, then let me know.) Best Buy also has an executive resolutions center that escalates problem cases like yours which would have been able to assist you.

Here’s my perspective on a case like this: Warranties don’t apply to every purchase. If there’s a manufacturer’s defect or if the unit is damaged, then either the manufacturer or the reseller has an obligation to replace the unit. So when your unit kept breaking down, that was something Best Buy should have taken care of quickly.

Not extending its 30-day return policy was just silly. I mean, the company recommended that you get a replacement fridge and the purchase was made contingent on the fact that you’d get a new one before then.

Come on.

I contacted Best Buy on your behalf. It apologized, quickly delivered a new refrigerator and let you keep the temporary one while also refunding your purchase price. You decided to donate the old unit to charity.

Did Best Buy offer Stephen Ashley enough compensation?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Cybrsk8r

    I voted yes, but it should not have taken the involvement of a consumer advocate.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Nice resolution, albeit too long in the making. But free fridge! Woo hoo! Put it in the baby’s room for those frozen margaritas… I mean… orange pops.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    I didn’t see in the story’s conclusion that Best Buy repaired the damage done to the kitchen during the “most recent delivery”. I voted no, as Best Buy was liable for that damage and should have covered the cost of repair.

  • Alan Gore

    Refrigerators! I want to see you going to war for the Delta Airlines cello player.

  • TonyA_says

    They should change their name to Worst Buy! How difficult is it to buy a fridge that works?
    What brand or make is that, so we can avoid it.

  • commentfromme

    Kick a company that is already dying. I am more interested in knowing the refrigerator brand and stock #. I already know that Best Buy is worthless.

  • disqus_A6K3VBf8Zn

    I have never considered buying anything at Best Buy, except video/music viewings/hearing. There are many other stores that provide better values and service..

  • emanon256

    I actually voted no, what about the damage to the kitchen? I hope the delivery people are insured and able to cover that, but it didn’t say. I would prefer the damage be fixed than get a free mini fridge, but that’s just my opinion. That stinks that the fridge keeps breaking, did the OP get the same model in the end? After all those problems, would have tried to go with a different model/manufacturer if the same model kept breaking down.

  • emanon256

    That’s what my wife and I always call it! Although appliances seem to be the best deals they have.

  • Christopher Elliott

    The cello player needs to contact me. That’s how it works.

  • Daniel Weaver

    My wife and I once bought a freezer at Lowes after finding the unit at Best Buy for a lower price. Lowes matched the Best Buy price plus gave an additional 10% off, and we don’t have to worry about Best Buy’s service record! Thankfully no need for any service on the freezer yet…

  • Miami510

    The idea of going directly to the top (CEO) is a good one… and one with which I had success. I won’t bore everyone with the sequence of events, but I wrote to Jeff Emeltt, the CEO of General Electric and explained the entire problem. I subsequently received a call from his executive secretary who asked me (here in Florida) if I would be home that Thursday. (I was impressed that they head office of all of GE, not just the consumer appliance division would… and could… make a repair appointment). A GE tech showed up and replaced the entire mother board, corrected an insulation problem that previous repair people didn’t note… all at no cost to me. That was 5 years ago and it’s been working perfectly ever since.

  • TonyA_says

    I am surprised he cared. I live up the road from GE and do not have the same luck as you. A few years ago they were trying to sell off the appliance division. Apparently there were no takers so they kept it. I now repair my GE appliances myself (buy parts online). It’s easier than calling Jeffrey Immelt.
    Next time I will try Korean brands.

  • TonyA_says

    Agree. Even their check out line and process is horrible. I am surprised they have not closed shop already. Amazon with Prime delivery option beats them hands down. For bigger appliances Lowes and even Home Depot is better.

  • TonyA_says

    I am curious, which airlines allow a cello (or a pet with a seat for that matter) to rack up mileage?

  • jim6555

    There is a Best Buy store that is a five minute drive from my home. I haven’t set foot in the store for at least five years. I would rather drive across town to do business with a reputable retailer than go through the hassle of dealing with Best Buy.

  • Carrie Charney

    I voted no, as the damage to the kitchen needs to be addressed.

  • frostysnowman

    This why I buy appliances at Sears. Best Buy did the right thing, but too bad it was only after Chris got involved,

  • emanon256

    I got curious and read the Cello guys story. While I think it was harsh that they closed his account too, I am not at all surprised they closed the Cello’s account.

    I asked United about this once a while back when I bought a second seat so I could work one time. I was told I could not earn miles for a second seat, it was limited to the person flying. They pointed me to the terms and I recall it stating that inanimate objects were not allowed to accrue miles and doing so woudl result in termination and confiscation of all miles for myself as well as the inanimate object. I also read teh new Unietd terms, and they actually state that United owns my miles and can take them away and lose my account for any violation. I woudl guess Delta has a similar clause.

    There were some questions I had about Cello guy. He keep saying he bought his Cello full-fare tickets, does he mean discount economy tickets, or true full fare $1,000+ per way tickets? If its the latter that just seems stupid to spend that, and also I doubt the airline would be punishing him if he was really buying two full-fare tickets on each flight, two heavy discount tickets, they probably couldn’t care less about him. I often hear people say full-fare when they mean they paid for a ticket, even though its a deep-discount non-refundable ticket. As in they paid what they were asked to pay, not a minimal extra fee for a dog, over sized bag, lap child or something similar.

    Secondly, he got a letter asking him to stop, but it was a long time ago and he said his secretary didn’t tell him or he forgot. That just seems like a refusal to take personal responsibility.

    If he does contact Chris, or simply pursue it himself, I hope Delta reinstates his personal account, but I agree, the terms are pretty clear he can not earn miles for the Cello.

  • Raven_Altosk

    Another reason that Best Buy is in the toilet…customer service doesn’t exist and lacks all semblence of common sense.

  • emanon256

    We tried that a few times and there was always some code that was slightly different on the lengthy stock tag. The unit looked the same, had the same specs, and was the same according to the manufacturer, but there was a different number/letter somewhere and Lowes woudl not price match. None of the stores would in fact. I personally think they make different stock numbers for the same items just to prevent people from price managing and the Lowes we went to was a stickler about it.

    Fortunately, we had a great experience with Best Buy and our dishwasher was delivered the next day and is still working 2 years later. My mom also bought a fridge from best Buy a few years ago and got a much lower price than any of the other stores.

    Honestly, I think their appliances are a little known secret, and in my experiences (not the OPs) their customer service is great.

  • TonyA_says

    The SOP for [cello] Cabin-Seat Baggage is:

    (1) Sell [book] an extra seat for the cello under your same surname but use CBBG as the given name.

    (2) Add a CBBG SSR [message] informing the airline that the cabin-seat baggage is a cello [with its dimensions if possible] and name associate it with the passenger.

    (3) Get seat assignments for both the passenger and the cello, making sure the seats are together.

    Nowhere in the SOP is the cello given its own [human] name To claim miles the passenger’s name and Membership Name should usually match. But the Member should be a human being [in the first place].

    IMO, this could not have been done without the complicity of a travel agent since it is usually not possible to book cabin-seat baggage online. That TA should be penalized by Delta if s/he encouraged the violation of the SkyMiles policy.

    Regarding paying a full-fare, that should be interpreted as “I paid full for another seat”. The fare is whatever the GDS will autoprice as the cheapest available for the itinerary.

  • Alan Gore

    My question, is WHY in hell do extra seats you may be required to buy, be they for your cello or because you’re too large for today’s microseats, not accrue miles? To me, it’s just another stupid rule that airlines pull out of their colons as a fun way of humiliating passengers who have no other choice.

    They smash up baggage and then point to some 1925 treaty giving you pennies on the dollar if you complain, so passengers carrying expensive items have to buy seats for their baggage if they want it to be sure of arriving. Being able to accrue mileage on such seats would seem to me to be a just, if minor, return on that expenditure. But no – we need another nonsense knuckle-rapping rule to keep us in our place.

    The public needs to be more assertive about things like this. Now that the election has brought about a resurgence of populism, I would love to se some Delta executives hauled before Congress and grilled until they can come up with some decent explanation for this one. Somehow I don’t think that Congress is going to accept “screw you” as a rationale.

  • emanon256

    My theory is that he created an account for the Cello. Gave it a name, birthrate, password, username, etc. And was using it as a second account. That’s really the only way I could think of that he could have done it without some type of assistance.

  • emanon256

    While I agree with you, and the screw you rationale cracks me up. I think their response would be that the loyalty program is a bonus item that they give to their customers as an extra perk, and it comes with restrictions. It could just as easily be done away with completely. As far as I recall, these programs didn’t even exist until the mid 80s. I hardly flew back then, so I didn’t care. But now I see it as a nice bonus, and accept the rules they set.

  • TonyA_says

    According to him an old travel agent told him to do it – get an account for Cello Harrell.

  • emanon256

    Well, last I checked, a Cello was not a person and not capable of entering into an agreement. :) But that’s why I always try to read these types of agreements. If his TA had told him to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge…

    When I used to chair an appeals committee for a university, we got a lot of parking ticket appeals. We were a catch all appeals committee. The majority of ticket appeals were students who parked in faculty parking with no permit. And the majority of reasons given were, “So-and-so told me I could park there. Usually so-and-so was a random person they asked in the parking lot, or a friend of theirs.” They still had to pay those tickets.

  • fshaff

    All the major big box retailers have different stock numbers … usually a letter or group of letters … and it’s not just appliances. Same thing with computers, printers, etc. The manufacturer has deals with certain stores to sell the same item, but with a slightly different code number. Yes, the item(s) are identical per the manufacturer, but different with the retailer. That’s why retailers won’t price-match from another store.