GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – When Natalie Cavagnetto got word that Samsung had recalled 34 models of top-load washing machines, including the one she owns, she did the responsible thing.
“I called to make an appointment with Samsung to get the lid repair done,” said the mom who lives on Grand Rapids’ northeast side.
So did Lauraine Navarre of Fruitport.
“I was surprised when it turned out to be DISH that turned up to do it,” recalled Navarre.
Cavegnetto had the same reaction.
“I’m like, DISH Network? This is supposed to be for my washer,” she said.
“That DISH would be repairing washing machines did not seem to me to make any sense at all,” Navarre said.
In both cases, the women say their concerns turned out to be well-founded.
“He was just confused,” Navarre said of the repairman. “He didn’t have the right tools. He kept checking his iPad for how to do it. I don’t think they’d actually given them hands-on experience.”
The DISH technician who worked on Navarre’s washer had to borrow a screwdriver and wrench from her to perform the fix, which involved securing the washer’s lid so it can’t fly off in a high spin cycle.
Samsung says it received 733 reports of top-load machines experiencing excessive vibration or the top detaching from the washing machine chassis. There were nine reports of injuries nationwide, including a broken jaw, injured shoulder and other impact or fall-related injuries.
The women said the DISH technicians caused more damage than they fixed.
“I went to do a load of wash right after he left and it didn’t work,” recalled Navarre.
For Cavagnetto, the bad news came even before the DISH rep had left her home after retrofitting her machine.
“He comes up the stairs and says, ‘Well, your washer’s filled with water, a little bit of water, and I can’t get it out,’” Cavagnetto recalled. “And I said, ‘Well, that’s funny because it was working fine before you got here.’”
Cavagnetto told Target 8 that her regular repairman spotted DISH’s alleged mistake immediately.
“Come to find out DISH Network had drilled right through the wires,” Cavagnetto said.
Her repairman was able to fix the mistake and get the washer working again, though Cavagnetto says the machine has had intermittent problems almost since she bought it in May 2016.
When Target 8 reached out to the DISH representative who worked on Cavagnetto’s washing machine, he denied that he caused any damage at all.
As for Lauraine Navarre’s washer, her husband was able to reconnect some wires to get her washer running again – but not before she spent two weeks trying to get through to Samsung to no avail.
“I ended up literally just sitting in tears,” recalled Navarre.
That’s when her husband fixed the washer himself. They had held off doing it themselves, fearing it might impact their warranty.
In several federal class action lawsuits filed in just the past two weeks, plaintiffs are going after Samsung – not for the defect that prompted the recall, but for the company’s solution.
“In essence, in an effort to cut costs, Samsung’s repair option does not even use individuals qualified to repair or evaluate the safety of the Recalled Washing Machines,” a suit filed in California on Feb. 3 reads in part.
A suit filed in Oklahoma on Feb. 1 alleges that Samsung’s recall remedy is inadequate on several levels.
“The retrofit that Samsung offers in the recall simply reinforces the top of the washing machines, but still does not allow consumers to use their washing machines in heavy cycles that be used for items like wedding and heavy garments,” the suit filed on behalf of Samsung customer Vicky Higginbotham reads.
“The rebates that Samsung offers to consumers under the recall often cover only a fraction of the cost that consumers actually paid for their washing machines,” the suit further claimed.
When Natalie Cavagnetto’s recall repair went badly, she decided she wanted to switch and take the rebate option instead. She told Target 8 that Samsung initially said, “No.”
“If I’d known it was going to be repaired improperly, I would have taken the rebate rather than the repair,” Cavagnetto said.
But after Target 8 called Samsung, the South Korea-based manufacturing giant reversed its decision and representatives called Cavagnetto to offer her the rebate.
The company sent this statement to Target 8:
“Our priority is to reduce any safety risks in the home. We are aware of Ms. Cavagnetto and Ms. Navarre’s experiences and have reached out to them to apologize and offer support. Our nationwide network of service providers are trained to perform the repair, and allow us to reach consumers as quickly as possible after a repair is schedule. While we don’t comment on pending litigation, we have successfully completed hundreds of thousands of in-home repairs to date, at an average of thousands a day. The majority of consumers who call our recall support line have to wait 20 seconds to speak to someone.
“A list of our major authorized service partners can be found on our website at Samsung.com/us/TLW, and before any in-home visit, we inform consumers which service partner will be performing their repair. We strongly encourage anyone with questions about a recalled machine or authorized service visit to contact us at 1-866-264-5636.”
John Hall of DISH Corporate Communications responded quickly to Target 8’s request for comment. He also asked for contact information for the customers Target 8 interviewed so DISH could reach out to them directly.
He provided this statement:
“DISH is serving with Samsung as an authorized repair partner, providing convenient, in-home washing machine repair for impacted customers nationwide. We are working with Samsung to understand what happened in these instances as quickly as possible.
“As an authorized repair partner, we’ve worked with Samsung to develop training for DISH technicians, which includes hands-on experience that equips our technicians to reinforce each machine with repair parts provided by Samsung.
“With highly-skilled technicians capable of reaching any home in the U.S. on any given day, DISH’s flexible workforce was well-positioned to quickly respond to Samsung’s needs. Over the years, we’ve gradually expanded the capabilities of our trusted technicians. Today, we assist DISH and non-DISH customers with the nuts and bolts of TV, audio and in-home wireless networks installation, as well as smartphone repair.”