Beware Extended Warranties – A Case Study in Horrible Customer Service

Alisa and I tend to avoid buying extended warranties, knowing that they really don’t offer value beyond the manufacterer’s own warranty.  To date we’ve had only one exception to this rule: large appliances that involve water.  So far this has included our clothes washing machine and dishwasher.  We figure that if electronics meet water … chances are things can go wrong more often.

This post tells the story of how this general rule’s exception is now obliterated by horrible customer service as we struggle though a failed LG washing machine. Full disclosure: this cost us $200 on July 2, 2010 on an $800 machine (25% of the cost of the machine).

The short version is that we feel cheated, patronized, and ignored by TGW and The Brick.  We made a significant investment in an extended warranty under the belief that we would benefit from exercising it should we encounter problems with our expensive purchase.  Now that we need the warranty, we are being left without working laundry for over a month at best.  As a result we have had to rely on the kindness of friends to help with our family’s laundry.  How would you feel about your friends washing your private clothes for weeks on end?  It certainly feels humbling and embarassing to impose on friends to wash our clothing, not to mention the loss of privacy .

I will caution everyone from purchasing extended warranties from The Brick and from dealing with TGW in any capacity.  From a customer service perspective they have left me feeling ignored, frustrated, angry and powerless – the epitomy of bad customer service.

I will be sending an email to one last escalation path pointing them to this blog post as a final request for a reasonable resolution.  My family is relying on friends to help out, have suffered stress and loss of privacy, and have had to waste a lot of hours, both ours and theirs, to get nowhere.  A simple replacement decision, as suggested by the tech on day 1, would have avoided this fiasco.  I hope this is resolved quickly.

Update July 8: After sending this missive via email to the support email, we received notice that our part is still back ordered, and that they have decided to replace the unit rather than try to repair it.  I don’t know if it was the lack of the part or our desperation, but we’re thankful that the decision has been revisited and that we might just get back to cleaning our own clothes in the next week or so.  Relief!


Here’s the complete log of events, up to and including today (July 7)

June 10 (Tuesday)
  • Alisa notices some black streaks on some clothing, including some new white pants.
  • Alisa tries to wash out the washing machine and confirm that the black streaks are not just dirt
June 14 (Saturday)
  • First call to Trans Global Warranty Corp (TGW), the vendor that sold us the warranty plan via The Brick when we bought the washing machine  An appointment was made for an on-site visit by a tech
June 16 (Monday)
  • The best part of the story: the on-site visit only took 2 days to happen.  Fairly reasonable, but with a family of 5 depending on the washing machine, we were starting to worry about having clean clothing after a week of no laundry.
  • The tech explained that it might be built up dirt that would come out with a vinegar wash.  The chances of it being oil were small, particularly with this model.  He provided instructions on how to test the stained clothes to see if it was oil, and how to wash the machine out with a vinegar load.  He committed to calling us back the next day.
  • The tech explained that the cost of repairing units like ours was typically higher than replacing it with a new unit.  He was going to order the parts just to make sure that got started, but was going to recommend that the unit be replaced and pass that back to TGW so their decision makers could start making that decision ASAP.
  • We went through with the vinegar wash, and tested the stained clothing.  Yup, it is oil.  Not built up dirt.
June 17 (Tuesday)
  • We spoke with the tech and confirmed it was oil.  He said he would proceed as planned, and that we should hear back by Friday (June 20th) to let us know if it was going to be a repair or a replacement.
  • The tech explained that if TGW decided to repair, it would be extensive, probably requiring them having the unit for a week once the parts were in.  We would hear more once the parts arrived in the next couple of days.  He also would submit to have it replaced, but that decision was left with TGW.
June 19 (Thursday)
  • Having heard nothing from TGW, and heading into our 2nd week without laundry, we called TGW.  We wanted to hear from them what the decision was regarding replacement vs repair.  The front-line staff explained their policies very well (only replace after 3 repair calls on the same unit) but refused to let us speak with anyone in the group who would be making the decision about repair vs. replace.  Direct requests to speak to a manager or someone from that group were declined.  Point blank.  Very frustrating at this point, but only the beginning.
  • TGW estimated the part arriving by June 24th
June 20 (Friday)
  • We called TGW back in trying to find out if a repair or replace decision had been made.  Same story about their policy.  Same refusal to allow us to speak with a manager or someone involved in the decision.  They stated the the decision had not been made yet to repair or replace, but they they had to wait for the part to come in before the decision could be made.  They expected the piece early next week.
  • The company rep suggested we look for another solution like a laundromat in the meantime.  Wow, we paid for this “security” and “peace of mind”?
June 21 (Saturday)
  • We called again to ask for other options and get specific dates.  One idea we had was to have a temporary machine provided as soon as possible so we could have laundry while we sorted out the repair/replace question.  TGW turned us down, and had no other info.  The part was expected June 24 and we could not speak to anyone else at the company.
  • TGW did at this point seem to have record of a decision being made, that a repair would be the course of action.  They never said as much, but they stopped acting as though they knew nothing about the course of action, rather speaking directly to a pending repair.  This may be due to the decision being actually made, or because the replacement part was so close to arriving.  I can only guess.
  • With TGW saying we could speak to nobody else, and there was no recourse, we called The Brick to talk to them.  The Brick was clear that TGW was the warranty company and they had complete records and control.  She said she couldn’t tell if we had used the warranty before and so couldn’t refund pro-rated.  That still doesn’t make sense to me – TGW knows we haven’t claimed against this warranty and she could query them for this info.  The Brick committed to speaking with TGW to see if anything could be worked out, and getting back to us in the next 24 hours.
  • The Brick called saying they could do nothing for us.  Not even provide a replacement, because the part was about to arrive and the cost of providing a temporary unit was too high for just a couple of days.
June 25 (Wednesday)
  • With no word from TGW even though the part was due the day before, we called them again.  Now the replacement part was officially on “Back order” and due July 4th.
  • I expressed my frustration so convincingly that I was able to get escalated to a manager.  I don’t know why it worked this time and not before.  perhaps because of the delayed part.
  • I spoke with the manager and explained the horrible situation his company had put my family in.  I expressed how betrayed and angry I felt as someone who had spent a lage amount of money on their product, and now was feeling ignored, cheated, and ignored.  The manager committed to investigating the part, to see if it could be expedited.  He also committed to asking the decision-making group to reconsider the repair vs replace decision, given the current situation and the reality that this repair would end up costing the company more than replacing the unit (customer service time, repair costs and time, etc)
  • The manager committed to replying within 24 hours with the results of his investigations
June 27 (Friday)
  • Having heard nothing from TGW we called again.  I asked to be escalated to a manager and was granted my request.  The part was still back ordered with an expected date of July 4th.  TGW is at the mercy of the manufacturer.  This manager noted the other manager has submitted a request to have it expedited.  He also noted that the request for re-consideration of the repair/replace had been submitted to the decision making group, but that no change in direction had been made.  He was unable to determine if that meant the decision had been re-evaluated or if that was still pending.
  • I again expressed my frustration and feeling betrayed by the company.  I asked to be escalated to any other avenue so I could speak directly to people making decisions about our situation.  If the part arrived on July 4th, following by 1-1.5 weeks for the repair plus pickup/delivery, we would be without laundry for more than a month.  Had we known this was the service we would receive back in 2010, we most certainly would not have purchased the warranty.  The manager stated that the only escalation paths that exist were the one we had used via phone, and by emailing, which he assured me would be read by the decision-making group.
July 4 (Friday)
  • Having heard nothing from TGW, we called again.  It was Friday and the part was due today.  The confirmed it was due today, but we had called too early in the day.  We should expect to receive an automated call when the part arrived, so we could phone in later that day and arrange a reapir pickup.
  • Our requests to look at repair vs replace, the decisions made etc were all rebuffed.  The parts were due today, it made no sense to even look at replacement anymore.
July 7 (Monday)
  • No word from TGW, so we called again.  The phone person now says there are 2 parts ordered: 1 had arrived June 24th, the other was backordere with an expected date of July 4th.
  • After pointing out the date, she committed to submitting a request to the Parts dept for an updated date, and getting back to us in 24 hours.  Sound familiar yet?

Seriously SFU! Did You Even Look At It?

I received a Continuing Studies catalogue from SFU the other day.  I glanced through it and was dumbstruck by an advertisement on page 35.

SFU Advertisement
SFU Advertisement

Seriously?  Did anyone even look at the picture before putting it in the ad?  Are they trying to ensure that no women join their programs?  Why would they choose a picture of a women who looks uncertain, or slightly confused?  Why put two men laughing, looking in her direction?  Two Caucasian men – one of who (to me at least) seems to be laughing at someone else’s expense?  They were even so good at choosing images that it looks like the man in the white shirt’s hand is the hand in front of the lady presenting.  It’s almost as though someone actually put some thought and effort into this train wreck.

Could anyone look at this image combination and say “Hey – good stuff!  SFU students have fun and have interactive classes.”  Obviously someone at SFU did …

I’ve emailed the Continuing Studies program and the alumni association – as an alumni myself, I find this unacceptable.

Well That Was Fun … Disaster Recovery For All!

Imagine if you will a Thanksgiving that kept on giving for weeks after the day’s events wound down.  I’m not talking about leftover turkey either – I’m talking some serious giving …. or is that more likely spelled ‘givin’?

Thanksgiving, around 1 hour before our big family dinner, the power went out.  Over the next 3 hours the power went out two more times.  Now, we managed the dinner just fine with a little “gravy on the BBQ” action.  But my server?  Ah, it did not do so well.  Sure, the surge protector did its job and protected my precious from the surges, but it couldn’t help the silly hard drive and its silly reading head from somehow crashing into a platter.  What’s it all mean, you ask?  Unbootable hard disk, and immediate disaster recovery.

But that was weeks ago, you say!  True, true.  It has taken me this long to finally piece back together the various aspects of my blog and image gallery.  I did manage to pull back all the data from the toasted hard disk, as you can probably tell (it’s all here, right?).  The real bottleneck has been those crazy things in real life that take up my time.  Two in particular: Marley and Cohen.

So expect a few picture albums going up by Alisa very soon.  Look for a few updates from the blog, all that good stuff.  It looks to be back to business as usual.  I still have a large degree of work to do to get things back to where they were before the crash, but I’m working through it in priority sequence, as it were.

So forgive me for going dark for almost a month.  I know you’ve all been going through withdrawal and all that.  So let’s get back to business here, shall we?  Let’s start with a new theme – this one looks like it will do!

An Online Shopping Lesson Learned

So back in early fall I was looking for a nice surprise gift for Alisa’s graduation. I knew she wanted a subscription to Us Magazine, so I made a quick little joke about her being able to rot her highly educated brain now that she had graduated. I made a mistake though, I subscribed using an online magazine vendor: MagazineCity. I shopped around a little and found 3 online sites that offered Us, and chose it because it was cheapest, and had no negative reviews that I could fine.

Well hello Google, come index this page, because this is one heck of a negative review!

I was told to expect a delay of 5-6 weeks after paying them before seeing the first issue. There was administrative stuff I knew, and I was sure they were bulk subscribing to Us itself to get the lower rate and so had to wait until Us got its gears in motion.

In early January (5 weeks in) I decided to throw a quick question to their customer service contact just to make sure things were on track. I received an automated email back stating that because I was an international customer and it was a weekly magazine, I should expect a longer wait time as Us was slower in their international deliveries. About 6-8 weeks.

Ouch I thought, 2 months after paying them I could expect my first issue? Maybe saving money wasn’t such a good idea here, though the subscription cost was about half what Us itself wanted. So I decided to see what would happen. I did receive an actual human response to my inquiry a few weeks later (!) stating that my subscription had been submitted very soon after I placed the order, and that I simply had to wait. The customer service rep (Heather) said that if we didn’t see anything by the end of March that I should give their service number a call. “March!” I thought, why would it take that long. That’s just silly, but I kept the email just in case.

Continue reading An Online Shopping Lesson Learned

Happy (Belated) 2nd Birthday Marley!

It’s a real shame – it really is.  My own daughter turned two on May 5th and I didn’t get a chance to blog about it.  What’s that?  Why didn’t I get that chance?  Well, it seems my cable Internet went and got broken on Sunday, the day of her party.

Several visits by the cable provider later and we’re back in action.

So here’s a belated wish going out to my lovely little girl.  I assure you pictures of the party and the ceremonial cake sacrifice will follow.

Know Anyone With A Nalgene Water Bottle?

Looks like those plastic water bottles might not be so good for your health. Plastic baby bottles too …

Mountain Equipment Co-op is pulling them off their shelves as we speak – proactively. Nothing proven yet but the concen is there.

Here’s a Wikipedia article that provides a little more info on the Nalgene connection – some of their bottles contain less of the suspect chemicals than others.

As for using the bottles out of their intended temperature operating ranges … I don’t know of anyone using the obttles for freezing water, do you?  Is that out of their intended operating range I wonder.


For those of you who noticed that theBside was down for a few days there, I apologize. The power supply on the server took in too much juice and overheated, about 8 hours before my taxi arrived for my trip to Boulder. I resolved the problem once I got home so I’m sorry if some kind of vital service was disrupted here.

All I know is I wasn’t able to record Lost last week. It’s OK everyone, I’ve managed to catch up – but thanks for the concern.

Daylight Saving/Squander Time

Arstechnica summarizes the energy-savings impact of the recent changes to the daylight savings schedule in a nice short article.

Reuters spoke with Jason Cuevas, spokesman for Southern Co. power, who said it plainly: “We haven’t seen any measurable impact.” New Jersey’s Public Service Enterprise Group said the same thing: “no impact” on their business.

Ah bureacracy – where would we be without it?

Now how much time and money can the government spend figuring out if they should go back to the way it used to be?