What was supposed to be a kitchen upgrade turned into a kitchen nightmare for a Rancho Cucamonga man whose faulty dishwasher cost him about $10,000 in repairs.
Extended service contracts for appliances like dishwashers are supposed to hold costs down if an item malfunctions. But if there are damages beyond the item purchased, that service contract will likely not cover the damage.
Walt Hoff says the extended service contract for a dishwasher he purchased from Sears was a waste of paper.
"If something fails on the machine, they'll come out and fix it. But if it causes damage, you're up for the battle of your life," Hoff said.
Twice in two years the motor and water-intake valve on his dishwasher had to be replaced after leaking. Sears made the repair per the service contract.
Hoff photographed the damage caused by the faulty dishwasher: a quarter inch of standing water created rust, mold and mildew. For 3 months, he was forced to use his living room as his kitchen.
"It was very disruptive and it's emotionally trying," he said.
It was also expensive. Hoff spent $10,000 to repair the kitchen.
Hoff submitted a claim to Sears for less than half - $4,500 - because "I felt it wasn't fair to charge Sears for all of the repairs that were done," he said.
Sears denied the claim. The company is blaming Whirlpool for the motors, and Whirlpool in turn is blaming Sears for a faulty installation, Hoff said.
"I paid Sears for the contract, I bought the machine from Sears and Sears did the work. For them to try and blame someone else is absolutely pathetic," Hoff said.
Eight months later, the claim is unresolved.
A few things to know about service contracts:
- They are not warranties nor are they insurance policies.
- When considering purchasing a service contract, weigh the cost of the contract against the expected life of the product to see if it's worth it.
- If the product causes damages, like to the home, a suit may have to be filed in small claims court to recoup any money.
NBC4 has been communicating with Sears, which says it is still investigating Hoff's claim. A Sears representative said it's Whirlpool that denied the claim, despite documentation that shows Hoff dealt exclusively with Sears until Sears involved Whirlpool as a third party in the claims process.