"I called a local repair company about this, and they said they no longer do warranty service for [manufacturer] because they don't pay enough."
I see phrases like this quite often in comments and product reviews. Usually, people are frustrated because they haven't been able to get timely warranty service on an appliance. If your relatively new washing machine has started leaking, or food is spoiling in your 6-month-old refrigerator, finding out that you'll need to wait 2 weeks or more to get it repaired is just adding insult to injury.
But I want to clarify how appliance warranty service actually works, and why it is the way it is.
Table of Contents
- How an Appliance Gets Repaired Under Warranty
- What Warranty Service & Rotisserie Chickens Have in Common
Service: Another term for appliance repair used in the industry.
Technician/Service Technician: The person repairing your appliance.
Factory-Trained/Factory-Certified: Means they've taken courses provided by the manufacturer on repairing their appliances. Each major manufacturer (GE, Whirlpool, etc) offers these courses. This means the technician is ideally familiar with the features and quirks of how the different manufacturers design their appliances.
Warranty: This is a promise to repair... with exceptions. Cosmetic damage, for example, is usually not covered by a warranty, and damage related to delivery or installation is usually something handled by the retailer (the business that sold you the appliance). The industry standard in non-luxury appliances is one year from purchase, covering the cost of both parts and labor.
Manufacturer's Warranty: What most people think of when they see the term "warranty." This warranty is built into the product. Typically, you'll get full coverage of parts and labor costs for the first 12 months. Certain parts may be warrantied for a total of 3, 5, or 10+ years. Usually, the warranties for specific parts are for the part only - if the part breaks, you'll still have to pay for labor.
Extended Warranty: Additional warranty coverage that you can purchase. However, they can have pitfalls if the retailer doesn't have its own service department. In this case, the warranty is honored by a third-party warranty administrator who is supposed to contract with local appliance repair businesses in your area. You can read more about extended warranties here.
How an Appliance Gets Repaired Under Warranty
Let's focus on manufacturer warranties rather than extended warranties, for simplicity's sake. There are two main ways you can get warranty service:
You call the manufacturer to request service. The manufacturer may dispatch one of their own technicians (more likely if you live in a highly-populated area) OR will send your service request to an appliance service business that they contract with.
- When this system works smoothly, it's great. However, you can run into issues like: long hold times on 1-800 numbers, needing to schedule two appointments in your home instead of one because the first appointment is just a "diagnostic" call and they won't have common parts on-hand for common problems, and needing to wait a week or more just to get that first service appointment.
If you bought from a local store like us that services what they sell, you'd call the store instead, and we send out one of our own technicians. We then "bill" the manufacturer afterward.
In cases where an appliance service business or a servicing dealer like us are involved, the manufacturer reimburses us for parts and provides a flat rate for labor.
And here's what it boils down to: that labor rate isn't great.
Warranty calls do not make us money. That's why a smaller service company might not do any warranty calls, or might be very specific about what warranty calls they accept - servicing your appliance under warranty just isn't going to keep their business afloat.
So, why do we do them? Why do we service what we sell? Why does ANYONE do warranty calls if they have thin to no margins?
What Warranty Service & Rotisserie Chickens Have In Common
Have you heard of "loss leaders"? You've probably seen them in your grocery store in the form of cheap rotisserie chickens. The store is hoping you'll come for the chicken and grab some other items on the same trip to offset the "loss" they incur from pricing the chicken below its market value.
Warranty service is our store's version of that rotisserie chicken. We "lose" when it comes to that warranty call, but we "win" in the long run because you'll remember how easy that service call went the next time you're in need of a new appliance. (And if you want to mention us to your friends and family, we appreciate that, too!) This is ideally how it works for other dealers and for service-only businesses as well - they give you warranty service in order to acquire or retain new customers.
We wish we could guarantee that your appliance will give you many years of trouble-free performance. On average, appliances last 6-10 years, but sometimes, things go wrong earlier than that.
Here are a few things we're pretty sure about as a business:
You want service to be easy.
You don't want to be wasting your time on a 1-800 number, waiting on hold.
You don't want to be stuck at home for a 12-hour "appointment window" after a week of dealing with your failing or broken appliance.
Here's how we make that happen for people located in and around Bellingham, Massachusetts:
Our experienced service manager will try to diagnose the problem over the phone before we send out a tech. We also stock our service vans with a variety of common replacement parts. This saves you time!
We can often schedule an appointment within 2 days of your call, depending on your schedule. Our service windows are two blocks in the morning and afternoon, and our techs can give you a call when they're on their way to your home.
We keep you in the loop if we need to order parts. Due to COVID-19 supply chain disruptions, some parts are simply taking a long time to come in.
- We work with you to try to make an innately frustrating experience a little less frustrating.
If you're located in Rhode Island or Central/Eastern Massachusetts, you can click here to learn more about our service department. If you're outside of that region of the US - sorry, we can't help you!
I hope this helps you understand the value of small dealers like us and a little more about what's going on behind the scenes to get your appliance repaired. Leave us a comment below - We'd love to hear from you!