GE / ge retroactively ends warranty without notice
This complaint is twofold: 1) ge consumer electronics refuses to honor a printed warranty valid at the time of sale, and 2) the microwave in question poses a consumer safety hazard and should prompt a recall because what this complaint is about to describe has also been described by many other owners who have posted reviews on the web.
Three years ago I bought a 1.2 cu. Ge rotisserie grill microwave, model jes1289sk, manufactured in 2003 and purchased march 3, 2006. As we do with all appliances and electronics, we kept the receipt stapled to the owners manual and filed away for future reference.
Recently, the microwave began to arch. It emitted an unusual sound, sparks were literally flying and it did not shut off. We were in another room when this started. Only by the grace of god did we prevent the house from catching fire given that it did not shut off and would not shut off until unplugged. Judging from other reports i've read, there are many consumers who report the same but because the unit continues to run some of the affected consumers have continued to operate it despite the presence of an apparently dangerous electrical flaw.
We took our ge microwave to an authorized service center, whereupon the runaround began. The service center insisted we arrange our own repair with ge because there was no warranty on the suspected part. We quoted both the service center and ge customer service representatives the warranty statement in our manual in which it stated that the magnetron was covered for five years from the date of purchase. This was to no avail. The terms of the warranty had been "retroactively" revoked. No ge product carries more than a year warranty, we were told.
The service center claimed that ge notified all its customers that the warranty statement in the manual would no longer be honored. Now understand that we register all our electronics religiously in the event of a recall or a problem of this sort, and despite the fact that we have not changed addresses we were never notified in writing of any change in warranty coverage whatsoever. Furthermore, upon reading the warranty that was in effect when we bought the appliance — as printed in the user manual — there is no language to the effect that ge reserves the right to amend or cancel the warranty terms at any time with or without notice.
As the original owner, I am inclined to file a class action lawsuit and would like to hear from a lawyer experienced in consumer law to fight this on behalf of what I suspect are thousands of ge customers who have been unlawfully denied warranty coverage. Make no mistake: this is not a controversy over abuse or misuse of a product. This is a violation, to the best of my knowledge, of california, if not federal, law.
After spending an hour on the phone with ge on friday, may 1, 2009 it would appear that staff have been coached to do everything in their power to feign ignorance and thereby delay and obfuscate us into giving up in frustration. At one point, an employee insisted that none of ge's own product literature read like ours did.in so many words, we were being accused of lying about what our warranty statement said. Now I don't know what revision number this customer service agent was looking at — given that all technical manuals have some sort of revision code to signify when they were written or published — but I find it impossible to believe that a company that must receive calls like this everyday from consumers and service centers alike would not be clear on the rights of an original purchaser. We are able to supply proof of their own warranty statement, an original receipt, a serial number and a purchase date. There's no excuse for the impression that the customer service reps had either been trained to deny warranty coverage for spurious reasons and/or did not have adequate enough record keeping to confirm for themselves whether our claims of warranty coverage applied.
We suspect that we received the runaround from ge intentionally because most customers would not have the time or patience to pursue a matter, let alone go without an appliance they use on a daily basis while the matter is being straightened out. We wouldn't be surprised if the average person, at least in better economic times, would throw a 3-year-old appliance in a dumpster, environmentally insensitive to the consequences of that act let alone cognizant of the reality that an enforceable warranty may still apply. Ge undoubtedly has solicited studies on consumer behavior in this regard, so it would not come as a surprise if they are training their employees to push their consumers to go out and spend the money to replace a product rather than to pursue a warranty repair. However, this is a different economy and like so many american households, the main breadwinner has been out of work for many months. Our money doesn't grow on trees, and even if it did we would not put it toward another ge product! That is why we find it more than ironic that in this recession wherein customer service ought to be at its best in order to keep bottom lines and stock prices propped up, ge customer service agents cavalierly drive off repeat customers with service that is not only poor — transferring our call about for an entire hour without ever arriving at an an agreement to replace the part — but, worse, seemingly afoul of the law.
Like too many companies that have grown too big to fail, ge does not appear to have a customer-first mindset. As product purchasers, we are essentially left to choose from "evil" or the "lesser-of-several evils". That's what happens when a few big corporations corner the entire market. None of their products have to compete anymore, and even more ironically many consumer products are essentially built for a short shelf life and a disposable end even as we enter a time when "going green" ought to mean building something to last. Consider, if you will, how many items, from microwaves to toasters, last less than five years even as a 1950s a wedding gift might continue operating for 25? Building products cheaply is a recipe not only for consumer frustration, but the necessity to go out spending over, and over again to replace products stacking up at landfills because they were built so cheaply as if to be a form of "planned obsolescence" on the part of the three or four manufactures that presently supply in excess of 90 percent of the electronics and appliance brands on the us market.
It seems obvious to us that this ge combination microwave oven was manufactured and purchased before changes to ge product warranties went into effect. Our product manual states that we have a "5-year magnetron warranty" and we're going to demand it if for no other reason that large companies should not be permitted to badger customers into believing that warranties are not enforceable. Nobody wants to call a company and feel that they are being tossed around from one telephone extension to another like a hot potato, or that the customer service reps who have taken their call were hired less than 24 hours ago and can't answer questions about their own products.
My plan is to report this microwave to the consumer safety product commission and ge to the better business bureau. My reason for posting on this site, however, is to ask anyone who has experienced this problem to come forward and share their own story. If you own a ge product that is still under warranty according to your instruction manual but the company denies it, please do not make the mistake of posting nothing more than a comment. If you have the original receipt and warranty statement to prove it, please write up and post a separate complaint on this website so that the true numbers of people who have been cheated out of their warranty coverage by ge will become apparent. Finally, I would also like to hear from someone in the consumer advocacy or legal profession who can confirm whether or not ge consumer products division appears, as we suspect, to have acted in bad faith.
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