In a perfect world, caring employees would quickly fix your customer service problems.
Published: January 22, 2021
By: Chris Elliott
We don’t live in a perfect world.
That’s the reason I started writing Problem Solved, a customer service advice column. The premise of the feature is simple: Every week, I take a seemingly unsolvable customer service problem — and solve it.
Problem Solved is the product of decades of consumer advocacy. I began helping fix customer service problems in the late 90s. I contacted airlines, hotels and travel agencies and negotiated refunds on behalf of aggrieved customers. In 2010, I wrote a book called Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals. I began to receive all kinds of requests for help — and Problem Solved was born.
I started to receive so many requests for help that I founded a nonprofit organization called Elliott Advocacy that helps people with their consumer problems every day. Our mission is to empower consumers to solve their problems and help those who can’t. So if you’ve run into a problem that you can’t solve, please contact us. My advocacy team and I will do our best to help you.
Problem Solved doesn’t cover every case I receive. Instead, I write about problems that affect many consumers and offer helpful consumer advice for everyone. The featured cases are always fascinating and comment-worthy, but they also help you become a smarter consumer.
By following my advice for fixing any customer service problem, you’ll probably never need my consumer organization’s services. Even if you forget everything I’ve said and only remember step 1 — to read the terms and conditions — you’ll avoid 90 percent of all customer service problems.
So look for my columns in future issues of THE BUZZ and BIRMINGHAM PARENT. And here’s your first installment of my column.
Why won’t LG honor the warranty on my washing machine?
Why won’t LG honor the warranty on Gale Mason’s new washing machine? Did she wait too long to report the problem? Or is there another reason?
Q: LG is refusing to honor its warranty on a washing machine I bought last February at Home Depot. The delicate cycle has never worked. But we did not address the problem until June because my husband was diagnosed with cancer and we had other priorities. We also knew it would still be under warranty when we got to it.
We’ve had eight visits from LG contracted technicians. Not only have they not fixed the delicate cycle but this fall, the technician touched a live wire and blew all the wiring on the machine. So now it does not work at all.
We’ve been trying to get LG to replace the machine. Additionally, our washer apparently has a manufacturing defect causing the live wire. We think this should be pursued by someone.
We want our washing machine replaced ASAP. Can you help? — Gale Mason, Sunderland, Mass.
A: I’m so sorry to hear about your husband and wish him a speedy recovery. At a time like this, the last thing you want to worry about is your non-working appliance.
Your LG washing machine should have worked the moment a technician installed it. But if it didn’t, LG and Home Depot should have stood behind the products and quickly fixed it. It looks as if the LG technician only made a bad situation worse. There’s no excuse for that.
I reviewed the lengthy documentation of your contacts with LG. By the way, great work keeping a paper trail. That makes a resolution so much easier.
You followed the right path to getting LG to honor the warranty on your washing machine, but you skipped a step or two. First, you should always let a manufacturer know about a defect immediately. You certainly had a reason for not reporting it, but unfortunately, manufacturers and retailers are less sympathetic.
Warranty coverage on your appliance varies. You had just 48 hours to return your washing machine under your Home Depot return policy. After that, Home Depot hands you off the LG to deal with its technical support team.
It appears LG repeatedly tried to repair your washing machine, apparently against its will. It just didn’t want to work. After the live wire incident, LG and Home Depot just seemed to give you the runaround. You spent hours on the phone trying to reach someone to schedule yet another repair. And at this point, I’d agree that you need a new machine.
I can understand why LG would be reluctant to replace your appliance. It’s expensive and embarrassing. But I can’t understand why no one would help you.
I list the names, numbers, and email addresses of both the LG customer service executives and the Home Depot executives on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. I think reaching out to one — or both — of them might have helped you resolve this.
I contacted Home Depot on your behalf. Within a day, Home Depot had removed your old washing machine. Home Depot also agreed to replace your washing machine at no additional cost.
Christopher Elliott’s latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Get help by contacting him at www.elliott.org/help.