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September 14, 2020

Need a New Refrigerator Fast? Don’t Count On It!

Filed under: Food/Groceries,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 5:45 am

MrConsumer had a refrigerator emergency about a week ago. His five-year-old Kenmore side-by-side refrigerator was climbing in temperature from a perfect 37 degrees to an out-of-spec 42 degrees. Both the freezer and refrigerator sections were filled to the brim, and I didn’t want to suffer hundreds of dollars of food losses.

But how do you get a repair person on the weekend and then probably have to wait days or weeks for a part to arrive? Well, maybe the faster method was to buy a new refrigerator. So MrConsumer checked Sears.com and found the current version of his exact model which is one of the very few of this capacity that just fits through his back door and between his cabinets.

The initial search indicated it could be delivered in “3+ days” which might just make it in time. But clicking on the detail revealed the inconvenient truth (and also that Sears had stopped free delivery).

*MOUSE PRINT:

Sears Kenmore fridge

What? Three days became over a month for delivery. So now it was time to check Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Best Buy for the Whirlpool or Maytag version of this model. (My Kenmore was made by Whirlpool.)

The news at those stores wasn’t much better. Either those models were not available at all in my area, or the wait was anywhere from over three weeks to three months.

Best Buy Maytag


Best Buy Whirlpool Home Depot - Whirlpool


Lowe's Maytag Lowe's Whirlpool

With fast delivery of a replacement not a possibility, I started freaking out and tinkering with the temperature controls which have always been finicky. Lo and behold, the refrigerator came back to life, and my crisis was seemingly over. Whewww.

Nonetheless, not being able to get a replacement major appliance quickly was news to me and has not been widely reported. We asked three retailers why this was happening, but they were not talking. Informal chats with salespeople at Lowe’s and Home Depot, however, reveal that COVID-19 is the culprit. They said there have been huge increases in home appliance sales, not just refrigerators, and that manufacturers simply cannot keep up with demand.

Indeed, Lowe’s is now displaying this warning on its website:

Lowe's warning

So if you need a major appliance in a hurry, you might not get your first choice for a while.

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15 Comments

  1. Something similar happened to me. My dishwasher died back in July. I ordered a new one and the website ‘allowed’ you to set a delivery window. Of course there was no confirmation of delivery time and no dishwasher appeared in the window I requested. I suspected that would happen, since I wasn’t going anywhere thanks to CV19, it was not much of an inconvenience. I sent a message to Customer Service, and they did get me a delivery time and confirmation about a week out. The dishwasher show up according to schedule.

    Comment by Pat Slaven — September 14, 2020 @ 7:32 am
  2. Ordered freezer Home Depot May 17, scheduled delivery June 8. Week before, they called, now delivery in July. Week before called, new delivery Sept 8. Week before, got a call, now
    November. This morning their online delivery tracking still shows September 8. I am cancelling the order. They know damned well they are selling what they don’t have.

    Comment by BobF — September 14, 2020 @ 8:31 am
  3. With the way Sears is run you will be lucky if you ever get one.

    Even some computer parts have been so hard to even get in good supply do to the pandemic.

    Comment by richard Ginn — September 14, 2020 @ 9:58 am
  4. I’m guessing,if no one changed the temp controls,that you need a new condenser fan.You should be able to replace yourself and you can buy an after market one on Ebay or Amazon for less than $20.

    Comment by Jon R Jensen — September 14, 2020 @ 10:17 am
  5. I can sure appreciate Mr. Consumer’s concern, “…didn’t want to suffer hundreds of dollars of food losses.” But if he’d not been so lucky as to solve the problem himself, losing all that food during a refrigerator or freezer breakdown is a definite possibility. I hope Mr. Consumer doesn’t consider this off topic, but when I recently searched for my new fridge and stand-alone freezer, I noticed that manufacturers’ warranties offered nothing to cover food losses. Onto extended warranties–they’re not much better, offering little, but some, food compensation with tough proof-of-loss requirements. And they don’t kick in until the manufacturer’s warranty ends. I bought an extended stand-alone freezer warranty anyway, and Costco offered a free fridge extended warranty. In reading warranty reviews, both are probably next to worthless.

    Comment by Dan Kap — September 14, 2020 @ 11:02 am
  6. I bought a Maytag fridge from HD that didn’t work at all – totally DOA. Maytag said they would send someone out “within a week,” but wouldn’t even schedule an appt until after being plugged in for 72 hours – even AFTER I reminded them of Massachusetts’ DOA law. HD stepped up immediately, offered to bring a small ‘party fridge’ to my house within an hour, and replace the fridge within a few days. When Maytag found out that HD was going to just replace it, they went ballistic. I told them exactly how I felt about their pro-consumer and law-abiding policies.

    Comment by Phil Sego — September 14, 2020 @ 1:02 pm
  7. I am confused as to why you would want to buy another refrigerator of the same model, shouldn’t a refrigerator last longer than 5 years?

    Edgar replies: Gert, I want a 25 cu. ft. side-by-side unit without a water dispenser in the door. The Kenmore and its sister models from Whirlpool and Maytag are the ONLY ones that will fit through my back door with only about 1/2″ to spare… and tha is with the door off. Similarly, my cabinets are such, that this is the largest model that will fit with only 1/2″ to spare top and sides. I do not want to get a 21 cu. ft model which is roughly the next size down. Do I really want to get a potential lemon again, absolutely not… but I have little choice. For now, however, the crisis has been averted.

    Comment by Gert — September 14, 2020 @ 3:49 pm
  8. Have had a KitchenAid frig on order since June, being told ETA October or maybe November

    Comment by Jake — September 14, 2020 @ 7:31 pm
  9. “3+ days delivery” The key is the ambiguous + sign.

    Comment by Frankie — September 14, 2020 @ 7:46 pm
  10. Recently sold a 10 year old upright freezer on Facebook Marketplace. Within a few hours of posting I had over 50 inquiries and I sold it the next day. I realized this was due to the long delivery time for a new appliance.

    Comment by Mario — September 17, 2020 @ 8:06 am
  11. Same with washers! Mine died and the one I wanted wasn’t available until Nov. or Dec. I had to buy a floor display at a local store for $200 more than the one I wanted. Freezers are difficult to find too. Consumers don’t have a lot of choice in what to do in this situation.

    Comment by BJ — September 17, 2020 @ 5:39 pm
  12. Our dryer died a month back. Okay, a bit more. But from the time we were able to order a new unit (and matching washer) it will be 1 month before it is delivered. Most of that I’m told is getting an open delivery window. The units were in the warehouse.

    So looking forward to Saturday (tomorrow) when we will have a working dryer (hopefully) again.

    Comment by Tony K — September 18, 2020 @ 11:21 am
  13. It’s probably true in this case, but I bet it’s become a quick go-to for sales reps to blame things on COVID-19 whether it is true not.

    Comment by MarcK1024 — September 19, 2020 @ 11:19 am
  14. It’s not a great solution but in the past I have rented a refrigerator and kept it in my garage so I didn’t lose a bunch of food.

    Comment by Jay Haskel — September 21, 2020 @ 9:48 am
  15. I ordered a new Whirlpool fridge, stove and microwave on this year’s July 4th sale from Home Depot. All were delivered on the 17th as scheduled without any hassle whatsoever. I was very afraid that my new 28 cubic foot fridge would not fit through our front door, but being a “side by side” the expert delivery men knew how to remove that door, open the fridge doors and angle it so it would fit. So you might be able to get away with a larger fridge than you think will fit. We also paid a little extra to have our old appliances removed. We were lucky, though, because the fridge we ordered has been out of stock on their website ever since that sale. I’m well aware that there are worse delivery delays due to Covid-19 and that we were relatively lucky.

    Ironically, after we got our fridge we had that tropical storm here in New England that knocked out our power for 3 days. We were lucky enough to have a friend with an extra fridge whose power was not out that let us bring our cold food over. However, we still lost food – at least $50 worth. We kept hearing that our state AG was trying to get us compensation from Eversource, our energy provider, but so far nothing. My advice is never to do business with Sears. Their customer service is well known to be horrible and that’s why they are virtually out of business. Plus their appliances are no longer made by Whirlpool but I believe by Samsung so their reliability is not so great anymore. Not sure which company your present one was made by, but 5 years is not a great track record. My old 17 year old Whirlpool is still alive and in my garage. Never a day of trouble with it, we just decided we needed an extra garage fridge. My advice is next time buy Whirlpool and stay away from Sears.

    Comment by Renee — September 23, 2020 @ 2:46 pm

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