September 28, 2022

A Tale of Two Appliances & customer service, or not

Where to start? 

I needed a sign early on, so I'd remember.
It was a Pavlov's dogs thing.

Mother's Day, 2022:  Remember? Our microwave drawer started to smoke. ABT, where we bought it, came out. Not repairable. Replacement cost: $2,000. Ouch. 

Middle of May:  I called Thermador at ABT's suggestion and explained that while our warranty had expired, this microwave was from '17. I'd convinced my husband to buy Thermador, a  name we could rely on. We didn't want to be replacing appliances willy nilly a few years down the line. The customer service person, who for the record was NOT very friendly or engaging or apologetic, said it might take a while for them to review. She told me they might agree to a partial replacement cost. 

July 5th:  Reg and I drove to Georgia for basketball championships in the new minivan. I decided to make some calls along the way, so I could get things accomplished. 

The Thermador person looked up my account, and said words that 

    1) I found shocking, and 

    2) revealed an 'oops' that I'm convinced was never supposed to be shared with me. 

"Oh, I see your complaint right here. Oh, hmm. For some reason, it was never filed. It's just sitting here." 

I have no idea how I didn't lost control of the car.  I was almost speechless, except that I wasn't, if you know what I mean. It had been almost 2 months since I'd called and filed my request to review the out of warranty breakdown. I'd also sent an email. What even is this? How? Poor Reg was trapped in a car while smoke poured from my ears. I think I muttered under my breath for  the next 100 miles. 

Understand, I've been using an old microwave from Lad's college days since MOTHER'S.DAY. 

After Georgia, I called Thermador again. They wanted information, like proof of purchase, etc. Easy to provide. The initial contact person didn't feel like doing her job apparently, because she never asked. 

Early September:  after many phone calls and emails, Thermador planned to cover $996 of our replacement. Sign on the dotted line to accept the terms. Installation would be at my expense.

Me:  OK, yeah, yeah, yeah - here's my credit card. Now, when's delivery? 

Thermador:  Oh. Well, we have no idea. 

Me:  Like two weeks, next year, some idea?

Thermador:  Nope. No idea. 

I considered calling ABT where I bought the microwave in case they had it in stock, but I was busy. I hoped that Thermador would surprise me and call sooner rather than later to say HEY, WE HAVE IT IN STOCK. 


9/11/22:  Sunday morning after a visit to Notre Dame, the washing machine acted  normal:  buttons lit up, but nothing happened when I turned it on. I unplugged it and plugged it back in, thinking I was clever. The display lit up to tease me. It would not wash.

Mini had sobbed again when I said good-bye after our tailgate visit. I abandoned my laundry mission when she called me and I chatted with her from the study. This was a few weeks ago, and things have improved dramatically, but she sobbed on the phone for 30 minutes. Mid it's-gonna-be-OK talk, a beep sounded upstairs. It was the 'laundry's-done' signal. Wait, huh?

The washer decided to wash clothes, like it was all just a silly misunderstanding. It kept plugging away, helping me get caught up on laundry I'd ignored while prepping food for my tailgate. I'd planned to write all day, but I could focus on nothing knowing Mini was upset. Nothing except mindless tasks, like laundry.

9/12/22:  My machine, that I think was about 8 or 9 years old, bowed out officially. Mid towel load. Seriously? I've lost track of how many times I've said: 

they don't make 'em like they used to. 

Ever smelled water sitting in a washer for several days? Gross. I wrung out the towels best I could and Lad hauled the 200 lb load over to rewash at my parents' house. 

My repair guy, Tom, couldn't come out until Friday when Coach and I would be driving to Omaha to visit Tank. Of course. 


9/14/22:  I called ABT (appliance store). I was still hoping my washer would be fixed. 

I told a man named Robin my microwave (switching gears again) sob story. He had inventory of the microwave, he'd pay half the cost of installation. All I had to do was call Thermador and say:  


Pinch me. 

9/15/22:  I called Thermador:  YEAH, WE DON'T DO THAT. THAT'S NOT HOW IT WORKS.

Me:  You don't do WHAT EXACTLY? Believe in customer service? (here I quoted their commitment to excellence, which I know because I heard a recording while on hold so frequently) Agree to simplify things? I want to speak to a manager.

Manager heard my SAGA. She agreed to ask her boss, and she'd call me back the next day. She  didn't think they'd be OK with it, but she'd look at the inventory and see if it would be available soon. 

9/16/22:  Coach and I were driving to Omaha when we got the news:  washer needs a new control board. Tom was gonna see if he could locate one. 

My friend Becky texted:  If he can't get a control board, do yourself a favor. Get a Seed Queen.

Me:  Seed queen? 

Becky:  Oops, Speed Queen

Misspelled or not, I hadn't heard of it. It's a commercial washer that's supposed to last forever. But pricey. 


We're approaching Omaha. I fear my washing machine is dead. The Thermador manager lady calls. *about the microwave. Are you keeping up? 

Manager:  Yeah, sorry. We don't do that. Looks like the inventory will be in sometime in the next 3-6 months. 

Me:  What? This cannot be happening. You mean to tell me I can get a Thermador microwave from a local dealer but you cannot figure out how to pay/reimburse me or them for half of it if I do it that way? And you cannot get me the appliance anytime soon. All this AND you understand that your customer service people  ignored my request FOR TWO MONTHS when I first called? So long as we understand each other. I'll tell you what - this isn't over. You haven't heard the last of me. 

It was difficult to not let this ordeal dampen the good time we were planning to have with Tank, his friends, and their parents. I was a hot, angry mess by the time we got to our hotel. 

9/19/22:   After a wonderful visit with Tank and a break from watching the laundry pile up, Tom called to say he couldn't get a control board. 

Me:  What washer should I buy? *He knows how much laundry I do. 


Stop it. 

I called ABT and ordered one over the phone, but they couldn't deliver it for weeks. 

Stop it. 


I called back and pointed out that I still had a microwave scheduled to be delivered 9/28. They linked the two deliveries. Hooray.

I was confusing myself. I had a $1400 washing machine linked to a microwave delivery that I was supposed to cancel, because if I got the microwave from ABT - then Thermador wouldn't honor our arrangement.

9/20/22:  I called Thermador again.

Me:  I plan to reach out to the local television station and the newspapers in Chicago. I'll share my Thermador experience with anyone who will listen. 

I was put on hold forever. Guess what? My microwave is supposed to going to ship out on Sept. 30th. 

Stop it. But OK. 


I was appalled at the cost of this washing machine. On FB marketplace people were selling apartment building units with a coin start thing. Tempting. Imagine charging our offspring to do their laundry? Anyway, I found one, gently used, wouldn't fit after they people had moved. It was an hour away in Indiana. $800.

I called Tom the next morning to ask him his opinion. Would it still work after being in storage? 

Tom:  You're gonna drive an hour to pick it up? Well, I have a better option. I can use my discount to buy one at cost. You'd pick it up about 25 minutes away, install it yourselves. It's not hard. Connect a hose. It'd cost you about $800. I'll pay for it, then I'll bill you. 

Stop it, for REAL? I'm all about saving $600. 

The next day I called ABT and cancelled the $1400 washer. I talked to Robin at ABT about my microwave. He's keeping my other one on my order for now, in case Thermador flakes out. They'll still come out and install the 1/2 price microwave as soon as it arrives. 

Now, all I had to do was go pick up my washer. Get it up the stairs. Get Coach to install it. Get the old one down the stairs and dispose of it. Easy breezie, right? What could go wrong? 

This is longer than intended. Shock. Sorry. Sharing the last bit soon. The good news/spoiler alert - we do have clean clothes. Which of your appliances have lasted you the longest? Do you buy brand names? Have you heard of a Speed Queen? Have you ever gotten different results by calling a manufacturer repeatedly? 


Jeannie Bruce said...

I've never had to call a manufacturer but I have only bought 3 appliances in my life. My microwave we bought from walmart 15 years ago, its still running strong. My Fridge is a samsung we got from lowes 7 years ago, no problems with that and my dryer is a maytag I also got from lowes 6 years ago, no problems with that either. I guess I have been very lucky.

- I do have an oven but it was my uncles 1st and my washer came with my house, its ancient, knock on all the wood but it works like a dream still. Oh and my toaster oven is about 15 years old too. Still running strong but I think it was a hand me down too.

Ernie, you need like some sage burned around you or something, appliances do NOT like you apparently.

Nicole MacPherson said...

Ugh, of all the appliances to go, the washer is right up there with fridge and stove as the worst! What an ordeal. Nothing lasts like it used to, and if I've said it once, I've said it 10000000 times, my MIL still has her chest freezer from 1962. On the one hand, it uses a ton of energy. On the other, she hasn't been putting freezers in the landfill for the past 60 years.
I have never heard of a Speed Queen!

Nance said...


I get it. I have similar stories wrangling with Frigidaire, The Worthless. My blog is rife with Appliance Sagas, including the time my ice maker attacked me.

I will never, ever give up my Maytag washing machine, ever. It is ancient and I will hang onto it like grim death forever. Same with my coffee maker, which my husband rebuilt for me.

It's not that I fear change. It's that I fear all appliances are in league against me, and I have proof.

Anonymous said...

While I was reading this I was screaming at my PC, get a SPEED QUEEN - they are the best. My husband did extensive research after the washer he originally researched went kaput after about 10 years and 4 kids so pretty much running non-stop. We got the Speed Queen about 6 years ago and I just love it! We paid 800 then so you are getting a great deal!

Ally Bean said...

We have an Electrolux stacking washer and dryer, recommended by the appliance repair company guy who tried to fix our previous ones, Fisher and Paykel that were lousy. I've not heard of Speed Queen, but then I don't spend my days keeping up with brands. I do think you might want to re-think the idea of charging offspring to do their laundry using a coin machine. I like it. 🤣

Jenny in WV said...

My parents are on their second Speed Queen dryer. The first lasted over 20 years. My grandma had a Speed Queen Wringer Washing machine that still saw occasional use in the 80s and 90s. Although ti hasn't been used for 20+ years, I suspect it would still run fine.

Coin operated laundry at home could turn into that Brady Bunch episode where Mike installed a pay phone!

I am horrified by the customer service with the microwave! If it doesn't get resolved soon, following up with the media might be a threat to act on.

Beth Cotell said...

What a nightmare! Note to self: NEVER purchase a Thermador!!

Kara said...

We had to replace a 17 year old LG washer, and went with a Whirlpool. It's actually bigger than our LG. Has zero bells and whistles. Was from a scratch and dent store, so there's a big dent on the side (who cares, that side is against a wall, in MY LAUNDRY ROOM THAT NO ONE GOES IN). But the stink of the old water in the old machine? So gross. Like something died. I felt so bad for the guys who came to take it away. They were like "yup, when these stop draining, it's bad." Oh, our microwave died too, but it's just a standard over the stove one, so we replaced it with a Whirlpool, same size as the existing, and did it ourselves. We are totally on borrowed time for the dishwasher, so I expect that will die on Christmas when I'm having a party.

joymariecooks said...

How frustrating! I think you're doing well with a speed queen. I am in a couple cloth diapering groups on fb and the general consensus seems to be that speed queen is the best. My parents have a speed queen front loader and adore it. I ... don't love it when we visit but have gotten used to it. I just don't like front loaders. I'm actually thinking of selling our current washer and getting one with an agitator. We have a top loader HE machine and it cleans well but the cycles are ridiculously long and I fell in love with my goddaughter's mom's machine when we were visiting earlier this month. So fast! Cleans so well!!!

Kari said...

Jeannie's comment made me laugh out loud. She's right though; you might want to burn some sage in your home. And perhaps some other "weeds" as well...just saying.

Maybe you should just start beating your clothes with rocks in the backyard. If it was good enough for our ancestors? It might be therapeutic. :) 

Erin said...

I have serious washing machine envy. In an odd turn of events I'm hoping my 8 year old LG dies soon because I HATE it. In order to get little boy clothes clean I need to use the longest cycle and the extra water button and trick the machine by putting wet towels in so it thinks it is a bigger load. It is awful and everything I've read says that a no frills, no electronics, top loading speed queen is my answer. Please report back on whether it was worth the $$!!

Ernie said...

Jeannie- I once called Whirlpool (?) about a dishwasher that died a week or two after the warranty. They ended up replacing the control board on that bugger and the executive I spoke to asked me to never contact him again. I guess that means I was a pest. Something to be said for persistence.

I think you have been lucky indeed. Burning sage. Let me get right on that. ;)

Ernie said...

Nicole - I do believe I've heard of your MIL's freezer. I thought about that the other day - the fact that appliances are not up to par lately means that we are all dumping old ones in land fills on the regular. So far my Speed Queen works great. It looks very old school, with its agitator, and clunky dials, but the cycles are fast. We can hear it running downstairs in the kitchen which bothers Coach a little. To me, though - music to my EARS. Plus, then I realize when a load is done because laundry often falls off my radar.

Ernie said...

Nance - This comment made me laugh so much. 'Frigidaire. The worthless.' I feel similarly about Thermador. I wish I could remember who made our previous dishwasher. Nothing but trouble. I feel like it was Whirlpool. They just are not made to last these days. These manufacturers have us by the nose, because we NEED the appliances and they are more than happy to sell us new stuff. Evidence, I don't doubt it.

Ernie said...

Anonymous - Laughing at you hollering at your PC. So crazy that people KNEW about this brand and I had not heard of it. Now that I have one, I do feel like I probably crossed paths with it back in my days in college or in my condo. It seems much smaller than what I am used to, but the cycle is FAST. So far, so good.

Ernie said...

Ally - I think that was a brilliant move on my part - ask the repair guy what to get. Bingo. I'm fine without the bells and whistles and I love that it takes half the time to wash a load than my previous, fancy guy.

Imagine how the kids would be digging in the couch for coins if I'd gotten a coin-start variety. That would've been like killing two birds with one stone - my couches and crevices would've been combed regularly for coins.

Ernie said...

Jenny - I wish I'd known about Speed Queen when we replaced our dryer a few Christmases ago. I think this one is going to be with us for awhile, which is a comfort.

OMG - I thought of referencing the Brady Bunch in this post, but it was already lengthy. I couldn't remember what coin operated thing they got. So funny.

I admit that I am wondering if they really do plan to ship in to me on the 30th. If they don't - well, may the force be with them. I will pull out all of the stops.

Ernie said...

Beth - It has been such a mess. I literally always give places the benefit of the doubt - this was a one off, but they could NOT correct it to save their souls.

Ernie said...

Kara- The water was stinking up the whole upstairs. I went in and scooped out what I could - in my spare time. There was still some water left in there. Thank goodness my folks live close, and Lad came to my rescue. I could not have lifted that basket of wet towels.

Fingers crossed that the dishwasher waits until after the Christmas party.

Ernie said...

joymarie - I had not idea that machines could clean clothes SO fast. It is a wonderful thing. No more waiting to go to bed until something is done, so I can dump it in the dryer. I am still surprised by the agitator every time I open the machine. The washer didn't come with a manual. Weirdly. So at first I was putting detergent in the agitator, because it has words on it that say 'fill here'. Apparently that was for fabric softener. I had to redo one load because there was detergent all over it at the end of the cycle. I was just SO happy to be able to clean clothes that I didn't care.

I am feeling all warm and fuzzy with the positive feedback on this mysterious, new-to-me brand.

Ernie said...

Kari - Clearly that's what I need in my life - burning of something. Yes, that was an entertaining angle Jeannie had.

I doubt our ancestors kids were obsessed with basketball - they couldn't have been capable of smelling as bad as Reg after he works out. Beating with rocks was never gonna cut it. Therapeutic, perhaps.

Ernie said...

Erin - Your name made me do a double take, if you know what I mean. Wink wink.

So sorry to hear that you WANT your machine to die. That is a pity. So far, and after all of the encouraging feedback, I'm really liking my machine. The loads are so fast and it must be pretty powerful. It is not as large a washer as I'm used to, but it is true that I don't have all the people home most of the time. *sniffle, sniffle, And we will most likely end up with less laundry regularly because they all will be moving out in a steady trickle.

You should come rub elbows with me or something, because apparently I carry some sort of appliance voo-doo without realizing it.

Ellen said...

I have a used speed queen that i bought for $300 in the middle of lock down when my l my old one died. I love it. May it last another 15 years! The repair guy who found it for us told me to be careful not to overfill it so the belts and agitator would stay in good shape. So there's my bit of wisdom about washers.

Ernie said...

Ellen- What a lucky find that was. Hooray. I love a good bargain. Oh, I appreciate the do-not-overfill advice. I am an overfilling type at heart. This situation sometimes extends beyond my laundry filling habits, but let's not go there. Lately though, I'm finding that I am overfilling my plate.

Thanks for weighing in.

Cindy said...

We bought our microwave from Best Buy about 5 years ago and haven't had any issues with it. (Our old one still worked but we wanted a bigger one.) Bought our washer and dryer used, from a mom and pop store 20 years ago and the washer just recently quit. Bought a new one at Home Depot that is okay but I don't like it as well as the one from the 90's. The dryer is still going strong.

Sorry you had to go through all that. Remember when companies were in business to serve the consumer? Now they only seem to exist to make money for the CEOs and executives. Customer service is NOT what it used to be!

Wendy said...

Ugh, I can't believe everything you've had to go through! I love your determination, though - you inspire me.

I actually have a Speed Queen washing machine in my basement right now, if you can believe it. I'd never heard of it either, but it was here when we moved in. The dryer was inoperable and the SQ washer was really funky -- it smelled and I wasn't sure I wanted to take a chance trying it -- so we just bought a new washer/dryer set. But Dave refused to get rid of the Speed Queen. He knew the brand and thought he would look it over, see if it worked, maybe sell it or give it to my daughter.

That never happened, so now it's just down there being used as a storage area, lol.

Ernie said...

Cindy - I am amazed that you bought used appliances and they ended up lasting 20 years. Well done, you. I vaguely remember when companies cared about the consumer. Ah, the good ole days.

I waited two years or more to get a fan over the cooktop in our new kitchen because of difficulties with our contractor. We had to find someone to build a hood for the fan to do in. I've used it now for about 2 years and the light works, but the fan doesn't. Seriously.

Ernie said...

Wendy - I think my determination is a result of my frustration in feeling ripped off. These things are not cheap. I prefer for these manufacturers to stand by what they make. I've had many things fail mere weeks after the warranty expired. Mind blowing.

I am laughing at your hidden gem of a washing machine down in your basement. It might be worth something. Who knew? I hope it ends up working for your daughter.