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Your New Appliance is Defective. Now What?

Steve Sheinkopf  |  May 19, 2017  |  3 Min. Read

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First, I feel your pain. My dishwasher broke and I have a newborn at home. My kitchen smelled like sour Similac baby formula until it was fixed.


Part of the reason I opened a service department at Yale 25 years ago was to deal with these situations fairly. I also wanted solutions to recurring problems.

Appliances now need service 20% of the time within the first year on average (we publish repair stats, but read about the most reliable appliances for an idea). Your problem may actually be common because there are no repair-proof brands.

However, in many cases, most return policies are unclear at best and will drive you crazy by wasting your time. The factory and even your retailer could also be allied against you.

So we will let you know what you should expect, what is unfair, and how to best mitigate a very tough situation. But as a company performing well over 20,000 service calls, I have to politely ask:

Is Your Appliance Really a Lemon?


Which brings us to a problem I experienced a few weeks ago...

A client called me rather animated because her washer was not working. She wanted it "out of her house or else." I listened to her concerns and told her I did not have any other better products and neither did any other store.

I offered a refund but said her next machine would perform exactly the same way if she was not using it correctly. Turns out, she wasn't using it correctly. We sent a tech and showed her how to use the product, free of charge.

This story is replicated daily. Sometimes products are installed wrong, breakers may be off, the plumbing or electrical lines could have any number of problems, or it could be a user error.

It happens. We understand that so we do not charge for user education (it is cheaper than taking the machine back and having the same problem).

As for other stores, you would have to check to see if the same service is offered.

Now, if your product is a lemon…what is fair?

Our policy: If we cannot repair your machine quickly, then we will replace it quickly. Period.

Many appliances break within the first year. I think a quick repair is reasonable. However, “reasonable” is not defined, and as such, is open to interpretation.

Most factory service agencies have an expectation of three service calls before they will exchange a product. Perhaps they never had Similac drinking newborns, but that is their policy.

Then again, it does not matter as much to factories or service only agencies because they did not sell it to you. Technically it is not their problem, so they can follow whatever policies they want.

The further service is from sales, the worse your experience will be.

Lemon Remedies

First, you must leverage the retail store. Be persistent. Talk to your salesperson. Most people in our industry try, but without service, they lack the capacity to move quickly. Try these tactics to speed the process. This is your best and most time efficient course of action.



Bad reviews on Yelp or Google are a good tactic as long as they are fair and accurate. Then again, good companies care about their reputation, bad companies do not. Small tip here: You should always investigate the company before you buy.

Better Business Bureau

I have mixed feelings about The Bureau. Sure, they will contact the customer, but the company can close the file by merely responding.

Credit Card Chargeback

You can file a claim on a card. However, the company can reverse the claim by providing documentation that the product was delivered. The Bureau has no legal authority whatsoever.

Small Claims Court

You will probably win here if you have the time to spend. Same with the Attorney General because most legal entities are understaffed.

Final Thoughts

First, look at the store reputation before you buy. In particular, look at what happens after the sale. Anyone and everyone can sell an appliance. What happens afterward varies greatly.

If you are stuck, be persistent and leverage your store. Do not be afraid to be persistent as that will only help your cause.

After that, social media will be your best ally. Then legal action, but that will be expensive and time-consuming.

Your best bet is to be proactive and research first, so you do not end up in that situation.

Additional Resources

The Appliance Delivery Checklist is a must read before you schedule delivery with any company. You can access it here.

View our Delivery Checklist

Related Articles


A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

A Note About Pricing

Pricing on this blog is for reference only and may include time sensitive rebates. We make every attempt to provide accurate pricing at time of publishing. Please call the stores for most accurate price.