Educational Consumer Tips


Author: Better Business Bureau

When an appliance malfunctions, the first step is to check your owner's manual to see if you can correct the problem yourself; most have a checklist of common problems. If you cannot locate the manual, contact the manufacturer to see what they recommend. Check the manual and your paperwork to determine if the appliance is under warranty.

If you need to contact a repair service company, the manufacturer may refer you to one who does warranty repairs for them. If the appliance is no longer covered under warranty, ask family and friends for recommendations. Check with several companies to compare rates and services offered. And check with the BBB on a company's reputation and for a list of members who service appliances.

Before choosing a company, ask them:

How long has the company been in business?
Does the company have liability insurance?
What will be the charge for the first ½ hour or hour of service, and what is the minimum repair charge? Fees per hour should be $75 - $100.
Is there a "trip charge" or minimal diagnosis fee if you decide not to have a recommended repair performed? If so, how much?
Is there a charge to decline repairs even if the company advertises "free estimate"?
What is the warranty or guarantee on the repair work, and does it cover parts, labor, or both? Most companies offer a minimum 90-day warranty on parts and a 30-day warranty for labor. All estimates, charges and guarantees should be in writing regardless of verbal agreements.
When calling for service, explain the problem, but don't expect the needed repairs to be diagnosed over the phone, as most diagnoses cannot be made without inspecting the unit. Have the make and model number ready, and be prepared to indicate a 2 to 4 hour window within which the service call will be made. Do not expect an exact time, but do request the technician to call if delayed beyond the agreed upon timeframe.
When a part is replaced, you still own it, and in many jurisdictions the technician is required by law to leave the old part with you. If you want the old part, ask before work begins. However, be aware if a part is under warranty, the manufacturer may require its return. Also, some parts may be exempted because of safety, cleanliness and other concerns.

For additional information on appliance and electronic repairs or to file a complaint the BBB suggests you contact the following:

Association of Home Appliances Manufacturers
1111 19th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(292) 872-5955

Federal Trade Commission
Washington, DC 20580
(877) 382-4357

National Electronic Service Dealers Association
3608 Pershing
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 921-9061

Links to all major manufacturers of appliances