Friday, August 31, 2012

Stuck in the Middle

The disposal was making a horrible noise.  It was grinding and complaining and I turned it off as quickly as I could. Making sure that the switch was off, instructing TBG to step back from the toggle and promise to touch nothing, I stuck my hand down the drain.  There are times when his big hands are a help; in this instance, they were a hindrance.  They didn't fit through the hole.

There was nothing clogging the rotors, nothing wound around the chopping blades, nothing stuck against the sides. We're pretty careful about what falls down in there, having had a few too many holiday dinners ruined by overloading the system with potato peels. Between the starch and the amount of material I'd shoved down there, motors just gave up and died.  I learned how to use the Allen wrench to reset the machine.  I know how to disconnect the pipes below the sink and remove what might be causing a problem.  None of those tricks worked.  It was time to call for help.

I'm a big believer in insurance, ever since we saved money by not itemizing my jewelry on our homeowners' insurance policy and lost money when it was stolen.  I read all the operating manuals and I buy the warranties, and the extended warranties, and I renew them when they expire.  It's much easier to call a central phone number and have them send someone out to do the work than it is to find a reliable repair person.

Or so it seemed at the time of purchase.  Sure, GE sold its extended warranty business to Assurant, but I was assured that the coverage would be the same. Over the six years we've lived here, I've made calls on the refrigerator and the microwave and the oven and the dishwasher and the disposal.... and that's where the problems started.

According to Assurant, I've never had any service done on my disposer (their term).  It's not in their records.  The fact that the device I have under my sink is a Whirlpool model installed by a technician they sent in April, 2008 seems to be irrelevant.  According to Assurant, I own an Insinkerator (a much better name, I must say) which was installed in November, 2004 and, as such, is too old to replace.

No, said I.  That one broke and replaced in April, 2008.  I have the invoice right here; with all the signatures and serial numbers and model codes and official tags affixed to the front.  Well, said they, I don't know what to tell you.

No, there is no one higher up the food chain to whom I might speak.  The facts are the facts.  Was I certain that I had not called the technician directly?  Of course I was.  I can barely keep track of the contract for service let alone a random repair man I'll never call on my own.  I go through the extended warranty; that's why I bought it.

My protestations fell on increasingly-unwilling-to-listen ears.  In passing, she told me that sometimes GE doesn't send them information.  Had I called GE?  No, she didn't have a phone number or a suggestion for a department to contact.  This was my problem, not theirs.  Assurant was insuring an Insinkerator that was too old to be repaired so the technician wasn't even going to come out.  Instead, they were cashing out my claim.  They'd send me a check.

Cashing out my claim? I have no idea what the means, even after it was explained to me.  They aren't cancelling the whole extended warranty package; my other appliances are still covered.  This one, the one they don't remember replacing four years ago, is seven years old and not worth the time/cost/effort of a service call so they're sending me $46 and cashing out the claim.

I tried, denizens.  I really tried.  I tried to figure out why they were reneging on their deal to cover my appliance after I had paid $27.85. Cashing out has nothing to do with the policy.  They are giving me the amortized cost of a new disposal, $46.  The fact that a brand new machine will cost about $100 and that I'll be charged for labor and that I paid $27.85 so that this would never happen to me again makes no difference to Assurant.

And, NO, they are not refunding any portion of that $27.85, even though they will no longer be insuring a product. Steam began rising from my ears.  TBG left the room; he hates it when I start to sputter at Customer Support people.  Really, denizens, I do it only when they deserve it.  I promise.

GE was no more help.  They have no record of the repair and the service contract and they don't seem to care very much.  The woman at the shop which sent the technician was as sympathetic and as helpful as a human could possibly be.  Marilyn had all the numbers, had the dispatch code from GE, knew I hadn't called directly, and was just as appalled as I am.

Amster says that it's not worth it to sue for $27.85.  It's really more than that, though, because I have to pay to replace the device instead of having it covered by the warranty.  Plus, I've spent an entire morning dealing with this, and my time is worth something.  What gets me angriest, though, is the fact that they promised to deliver services and they failed.

I'm not giving up on this.  I'm sending this post to GE and Assurant and Better Business Bureaus in a variety of locations. I'm alerting you, my faithful readers, that if you, too, had an extended warranty contract from GE it might be worth your while to check that what's in your kitchen is accurately reflected on the paperwork. I went over every service visit on every appliance this morning while I was on the phone with a variety of pleasant but unhelpful humans.  Only Mike, the first person who answered the phone at Assurant this morning, was able to be of any service at all.  The rest of them seemed to be trained in the read from this script and give no more information than necessary so that the caller gives up in frustration school of customer service.

I'll keep you posted.


  1. Terrible behavior on Assurant's part, but GE makes me furious as to their selling the contract to a third party. They should be ashamed of themselves. Of course, I know they are not.

  2. No one is ashamed or surprised or upset or willing to help. Lovely....NOT!


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