Fix My Dishwasher Please or How Can We Lean the Appliance Repair Industry?

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=”” only_single=false]I would like to relate my recent experience with trying to get a small puddle of water that forms in front of my dishwasher repaired over the past several months. I should preface this with I usually will repair my own appliances but this one happened to still be under warranty so I called the manufacturer. This was January 15th; the warranty expired on January 18th, so just in time! That never happens does it?

The manufacturer phone representative asked me a few questions, verified my ownership and the recommend three authorized service groups in my area. Well the closest was 35 miles away so not really local but it was their nickel. So far this was a very pleasant experience. I contacted the service company and again very pleasant, asked a few questions, and scheduled an appointment. Not bad. I was thinking this is really OK! Why in the world do I spend my time fixing this stuff? Repairs are just a phone call away.

Visit #1. I had to take off of work to be home when the technician was to arrive they called in the morning and gave me a 2 hour window for his arrival. He arrived right at the start of that window, great! Nice guy, neat, clean and well prepared. I supplied a lot of information on the phone and the Tech felt that a splash guard installation was just the ticket. There was an issue with this dishwasher that this was supposed to fix. I also should mention this is not an inexpensive dishwasher $700 and I installed it myself. He installed the parts which he had with him, showed me how to do it and gave me the part numbers as he mentioned they will need replaced in a year or two. 15 minutes and he is gone, I could have gone back to work but I did this as a vacation day and just enjoyed having the time to myself. So I cleaned the house, ran some dishes and …..It still leaked.

Visit #2 – Well I let the repair group know that I had taken off for the first visit but now I am not doing this again. No problem they do Saturday appointments. Again arrived on time same Tech and I explain my analysis of the issue he agrees as again there has been a problem with venting during the drying cycle on this dishwasher. He needs to call the manufacturer Tech line for part approval as there is a kit to fix this. Great now we are getting somewhere. Well, not to quickly here, the Tech line is not open on Saturday. He leaves and will call the Tech line Monday.

Visit #3 – The Technician calls me Monday and I have to schedule another appointment for him to come out and it needs to be during the week. Most likely showing my irritation I ask why? Very sheepishly the response is the Tech line for the manufacturer will not talk to him unless he is at the house. I am absolutely stunned. At this point I am losing my temper but pull it back together enough to get him out the next day very late in the afternoon. Again I have to leave work early and again he is on time. He calls the tech line and they talk him through a diagnostic that says my rinse aid dispenser is not working. They will send the part and that will fix my water on the floor that only appears during the drying cycle. Hmmm, I am not buying it, and neither did the Tech and he added the vent kit to the order to “restock their storeroom”. Good call, thanks should save me another service call.

Visit #4 – Parts are in, set up a Saturday appointment I am pumped this is going to be done. Four visits and only 1 month to get it fixed, not bad. Missed some work but there is something to be said for that, I can use the break. A different Tech arrives and installs the rinse aid dispenser shaking his head as he reads the repair ticket. “These always show bad in the diagnostic code, hang on to the old one, it is still just fine.” Now he gets to installing the repair kit for the venting issue and (drum roll please)…….IT DOESN’T FIT! I am absolutely livid! He calls the Tech line. I mentioned they are not open on Saturday and he gives me a look of how in the world did I know that when there was no answer? He says he will order the right parts and set up visit #5.

Visit #5 – I get a call to schedule another appointment and this one has to be during the week. I again take off early, the Tech (the first one again) arrives on time, with no parts and calls the Tech line. Really they will not talk to these guys unless they are at the house. How do they know? He is on a cell phone. How in the freaking world would they know? He gets off the phone tells me I need to get the same repair kit but also a new control panel that will allow it to fit in my door. He said this style of control panel is failing early anyway so it is a good thing to get it replaced. Great I am thinking just replace the door I think it would be quicker. He leaves to order the parts and I prepare for visit #6.

Visit #6 March 12, 2010 – Yes the date is right this has gone on since January 15th and now it is March 12, 2010! I took off work again. My vision was if there is another problem with the installation 2 more visits if they can’t call the @#$%& Tech line. As in previous visits the repair technician showed up on time and was the same technician as the original visit. This time he had boxes and boxes of parts. I am excited as he tears into the dishwasher putting in the new panel with a different ducting path for the hot gasses during the dry cycle. I spy the new control panel and feel the difference in the tactile pushbuttons. Ours was clearly going to fail soon as he had mentioned previously. One long hour later he asks me to reset the breaker. IT IS DONE!

My dishwasher is now fixed but at what cost? I have to say the Techs and their company were accommodating, but 6 service visits. Thank God I was not paying for any of this I am not sure but at around $75 a visit just to show up we have $450. Installation of a part not needed $150. Installation of a new control panel and vent kit, $250. My irritation and lost time, and missed work. How can this even be OK to do business like this? Is it just the manufacturer that is so messed up? Do they make it this hard to have you give up? I know I have my thoughts on what could be done, but what are your thoughts and experiences? Are they as wasteful as mine? How would you lean out this process?

“Work all your life

You’ve got nothing to show

Just some seeds in your pocket

That some fool said would grow”

John Stewart – Ride Stone Blind

Listen to Ride Stone Blind here at Lala


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9 Responses

  1. […] See the rest here: Fix My Dishwasher Please or How Can We Lean the Appliance Repair Industry? […]

  2. There are so many lean lessons to be learned when you have work done to your house or have something fixed!

    I bet the supervisor of this system has never been to gemba and been part of everything it took to get your dishwasher fixed.

    These kind of stories help people learn about Lean because we have ALL experinced something similar.

    • I agree there are so many issues here. On the last visit the Tech mentioned that they had be approved to stock these repair parts and make this repair on their own without the manufacturer input. Some people at work had a side bet with me that it would not be fiixed on the last visit.

  3. Great article and way too typical. What is surprising is that more work isn’t done with the information you give on the phone. They should be really quizzing someone when they call so that the repair person brings the most obvious parts as well as some outlier parts that they have sometimes needed so that there is no call back to support. If they would be a responsive call / service center not only would the repair been done right the first time, the feedback would get back to the designers and plant so that the next unit off the line doesn’t have this issue.

    • I really tried to put myself in the “operator” position and feedback as much information as possible. Not to dish the person who took the information I am not sure they took me very seriously other than to bring the splash guards for the first repair. If they had really passed on the information the key piece was that there was no leak until the dry cycle. The manufacturer was very aware of the multiple issues involved and had made changes in later runs of this model. I of course had an early run. If I had an issue like this at work the size of the corporation I work for carries the leverage to get results very fast. As an individual I could not get that leverage without jumping through their hoops.

  4. I dealing with the same issues for a refrigerator. 2 visits and only one of the issues fixed. I have to call numerous times to get a return call. I guess we need to learn to do things ourselves.

    • Wow! Is yours a warranty issue? I feel a little better at least the service firm was responsive in my case. I always believe you should do whatever your talents will handle in your home. No one cares more than you about the outcome of the work involved. It also can be a good growth experience to learn new skills. Thanks for your comments at least I am not the only one who has had problems.

  5. fixing something at home is the hardest way of doing things. sometimes i feel so frustrated that my work will get held up

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