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.

An Interesting Senator in the U.S.

During a heated discussion at work between two people arguing about whether or not global warming is a hoax, a Senator’s blog was cited as a resource.  Curious, I hit up Wikipedia and found a page on Senator Jim Inhofe.

Quite an interesting fellow really.  Here are some choice quotes from the wikipedia article (take them for what they’re worth).

“It kind of reminds… I could use the Third Reich, the Big Lie… You say something over and over and over and over again, and people will believe it, and that’s their [the environmentalists’] strategy”

He also stated that Global Warming is

” … the second-largest hoax ever played on the American people, after the separation of church and state.”

Yes, that whole separation thing was a massive … uh .. hoax?

He’s even pinned down who’s behind this environmental hoax: The Weather Channel.  They need to keep up their ratings after all.

Now, if this was a joe-shmoe on the street I wouldn’t have noted it, but this is a Senator.  The very same Senator that was chair of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

And his ideas on other issues really don’t resonate with me at all.  For example he’s trying to amend the constitution to make same sex marriage illegal.  His presentation on the Senate floor included this little gem, while pointing to a poster-sized picture of his family.

…As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.

Yup, no homosexuals in his family.  None at all … hey .. don’t look in that closet!  What worked for him must therefore be struck into law and work for everyone.

To top it all off, he seems to be representing the people, as his record shows landslide wins for decades now.  Either that or people are simply voting along party lines.

Really?  How does this make any sense at all?

Poor Judgement Indeed

What would cause a group of teachers in the States to “pretend” that there was a person in a school with guns trying to shoot their students, without giving notice that it was a prank or part of a ghost story event?

And then to have one teacher dress up in black and try to get through the locked door while the 6th graders cried under their desks … ?

I think poor judgement is an understatement here.

Blue Angels In The Sky

Boy people patent some wacky things!

For example, any guy who stayed in a college dorm knows what a “Blue Angel” is – young men like to light their intestinal gas on fire and marvel at their innate ability to produce fire. It’s Neanderthalic, its moronic, its free entertainment. Dorm food doesn’t help matters.

Oh sure there are horror stories you hear about how the flame travels up inside and burns a guy, or the explosion is so violent that, well, you get the idea. So two men thought it would be a good idea to patent an idea behind what could possibly be the weirdest “rocket” I’ve ever heard of:

A recreational activity practiced by some individuals is ignition of one’s own flatus. This is performed by using a lit match or candle, or a cigarette lighter. So widespread is this activity that there are web sites on the Internet devoted exclusively to explaining proper lighting techniques.

OK, I’ll take your word on that good sirs.

A major drawback of this popular practice is that it usually involves the hazardous coupling of fire, combustible gases and inebriated participants. Reports of serious burns to body parts are not uncommon, this being especially true when the
participants remove their clothing.

Indeed, you can’t argue with that reasoning. So these two fellows offer up a novel invention to help those poor inebriated firebugs:

A toy gas-fired missile and launcher assembly whose missile is composed of a soft head and a tail extending therefrom formed by a piston. … To operate the assembly, the operator places the inlet tube with its valve open adjacent his anal region from which a colonic gas is discharged. The piston is then withdrawn to a degree producing a negative pressure to inhale the gas into the combustion chamber to intermix with the air therein to create a combustible mixture. The ignitor is then activated to explode the mixture in the chamber and fire the missile into space.

Translation: you launch a rocket by releasing and lighting your “flatus” in this contraption. Yup – someone paid to patent this. I honestly see a market for it too – don’t you?

How Did We Get By Without It?

German researchers, after many long periods of intense research and user testing I’m sure, have produced a Smart Beer Mat.

It’s able to detect when the suds are running low in the glass. It also can detect movement, making those creative TV executives salivate at the thought of interactive TV in pubs. Who votes for Miss America with their beer mat? The pub-goer of the future, that’s who!

And who can forget those beloved pub games?

One important direction which needs further investigation is the large body of drinking games which has developed in certain cultures and how they can be supported using our beer mat.

It’s all very academic and formal. Money well spent. I suppose advertisers would love the thing though.