Choose wisely to avoid a Charlotte appliance repair headache

Choose wisely to avoid a Charlotte appliance repair headache

When Susan Beaver’s five-month-old dishwasher started leaving her dishes dirty, the Harrisburg, N.C., resident called the manufacturer.

After Beaver says she hand-washed her dishes for three weeks while the warranty authorized appliance repair technician stalled and failed to fix her machine, she regretted accepting the company Samsung sent out for her repair without researching them first.

“I’d rather pay to have it right the first time,” she says.

After consulting a technician from the store where she bought the appliance, Beaver determined the machine worked but the waterline needed flushing, a service her plumber performed. “I went through this whole thing, then I got on Angie’s List and saw all the negative reports,” says Beaver, who added an negative report to the four already submitted for Gastonia-based A+ Appliance Service/TV Repair. The poorly rated company didn’t return messages seeking comment.

Charlotte members submitted negative reports on about 30 percent of their large appliance repair experiences, warranty related and otherwise, in the last three years. Many complaints focus on similar problems: service delays, improper or incomplete repairs and unexpected charges, such as an undisclosed “diagnostic fee” tacked on to labor and parts fees.

Mike Collins, owner of highly rated Collins Appliance Service in Charlotte, knows those complaints well: Consumers regularly call him to repair the work of other technicians. His company, which his father founded in 1969, performs some warranty repairs but he typically advises his customers to skip extended service plans with new purchases and bank the fee, which he says usually covers a service call from a highly rated repair service of your choice if a repair is needed during that period.

“They subcontract other companies to handle those contracts,” he says. “They may be sending guys out there who don’t know what they’re doing.”

Lance Kimball, president of the United Servicers Association trade group, advises consumers to beware of “trunk slammers,” or those without proper insurance or training who land repair jobs from the Internet or national call centers but have no fixed business.

“They say they’re appliance repairmen, but they don’t have much training and are not very professional, or they go out and don’t fix it properly or overcharge,” says Kimball, whose group promotes ethics and education in the industry. “It leaves a bad taste in the consumer’s mouth.” United  Servicers recommends businesses staff trained, licensed employees and provide pricing lists.

To avoid bad experiences, Collins suggests consumers ask whether the technician has dealt with the problem at hand over the phone beforehand and when they arrive, look for clearly marked vehicles and uniformed employees confident in their knowledge. Don Reid, owner of highly rated 123 Appliance Repair in Pineville, N.C., says his technicians attend manufacturer-sponsored training regularly.

“Once the customer starts talking to my technician, they will immediately recognize our technicians are knowledgeable,” Reid says. “They’re going to cut to the chase and give you all the options in laymen’s terms.”

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