Q: We're having trouble getting a mold problem resolved on our $1,000 Maytag Neptune front-load washer that we bought from the Sears, Roebuck and Co.'s McKinley Mall store three years ago.
We had purchased all new appliances from the store, and after about nine months, noticed that the washer had developed a serious mold and mildew problem around the door's rubber seal.
When we contacted Maytag, we were told that there was a recall for this problem, but that we had missed the filing deadline because the recall period had expired (which was one week after my purchase). We were not notified of the recall and Maytag refused to repair my machine, even though they have a new anti-bacterial seal with special drainage.
I then went to the Sears store to explain the problem. Sears denied responsibility after we also called them, and said it was Maytag's responsibility. My wife let it go for a while, and simply attempted to clean the machine, but the problem kept recurring.
The washer had a one-year warranty, which has expired. Numerous calls were made, trips to the store were made and the problem is still unresolved.
All we want is the gasket replaced. I'm sure it would be at minimal expense to them. Considering we spent over $5,000 on the appliances, I don't think we are asking too much.
-- Frank Avery, Derby
A: Everyone seems to be blaming everyone in this matter, but when we contacted Sears' corporate office, the company went out of its way to accommodate you and fix the problem the same day we spoke with Shirley Bicknell, Sears' field support manager who troubleshoots consumer problems.
We called Bicknell on Jan 18. and Sears had a service technician at your home that afternoon.
Bicknell also looked up your account immediately, and found no records of you ever having contacted Sears about the mold problem, despite your insistance otherwise. Instead, she found records of other appliances you had called Sears about during the last two years, but nothing logged regarding the washer.
"We never took a call," she insisted. "They never even gave us a chance to come out. If they would have called us right away, when they first noticed it, we would have come out from the very beginning and fixed it for nothing."
You dispute that, saying you had contacted the Sears' 800 customer service number and that your wife was told to clean the seal with bleach.
It's important to note that Bicknell said that the washer you purchased was never recalled. That explains why you never received any notification about it. And any recalls would be handled directly by the manufacturer -- in this case, Maytag, she said.
Bicknell told us that the service technician replaced the baffle (seal) on your washer at no charge and advised you about preventative maintenance for the appliance. The parts and labor, which would have run about $180.73 total, was done for free.
"They put in a different type of seal and it shouldn't be a problem," Bicknell said. "A lot will be preventative maintenance. You do have to clean around the seal periodically. If you read the owner's manual, you have to clean the seal. My daughter-in-law has the same machine and doesn't have any problems."
As long as you take the extra steps needed for this type of machine, it sounds like it shouldn't be a problem any longer.
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