BBB Investigation: Customers frustrated over used appliance store’s defective items

Happy customers turned into unhappy consumers for a used appliance store in Austin. Customers are alleging the items they bought from Affordable Appliances Plus never worked and were never fixed.

Better Business Bureau serving Central, Coastal, Southwest Texas and the Permian Basin has received 57 complaints against Affordable Appliances Plus in the last three years. Complainants allege they purchased used appliances with the impression that they were in sound mechanical condition. Consumers claim that once the appliance is placed in their home, it fails to operate shortly after their purchase; sometimes within the first 30 days. Customers claim that Affordable Appliance Plus repairs or replaces appliances under their 30-day warranty policy. However, some pay out of pocket for repairs, as they are outside the business’s 30-day warranty policy. Complainants general seek a refund or a replacement appliance of equal value.

The business has responded to complaints by generally saying their appliance is under a 13-month warranty with free replacement or repair during the first 30 days. After the initial 30 days, the customer is responsible for the price of repair parts during months two through 13. Affordable Appliance Plus is enforcing its no refund policy.

After sending a letter regarding the company’s pattern of complaints, BBB reached out to Affordable Appliances Plus. The owner said he would look into addressing the matter. However, the business has yet to follow up with BBB.

Additionally, BBB contacted the business in order to address several advertising claims on their website. BBB requested the business clarify if products described as refurbished are restored to original working conditions and meet all factory specifications. BBB also requested Affordable Appliances Plus modify its website to include where warranty details can be viewed prior to a sale. The business did not respond to BBB’s requests.

Matthew Vitemb bought a washing machine from the company. He said when it was delivered it didn’t work and it was not the one he picked out. A technician with the company went to Vitemb’s home and fixed the appliance. After running two loads of laundry, the machine stopped working. The company replaced Vitemb’s washer two more times. He said that is when he decided to ask for a refund.

“I went to the store and told them I understood their no refund policy,” Vitemb said. “They sent three machines and none of them fulfilled any of the basic functions. It is not reasonable.”

Affordable Appliances Plus refused to issue a refund. Vitemb alleges he received a call from the owner and his wife that shocked him.

“He got very aggressive and she pretty much berated me. He told me I can’t just get a refund and that he ran a good business. I eventually got a fourth washer that worked, but the process was unreal. It was a typical type of bad business horror story,” Vitemb said.

Anita McGill found Affordable Appliances Plus through the Internet. She ordered a washer and dryer over the phone. When she received them, neither worked. The delivery man told her the appliances were rained on after they had been left outside. She called the business to have the machine serviced.

“The technician came out the same day but brought the wrong part,” said McGill. “He did get the dryer fixed, but not the washer. He came back later but still had the wrong part.”

McGill said the technician came back three times to fix the washer, but it never worked. She then waited a month to schedule a follow up appointment because she says the business told her they do not do weekend service calls.

“I called the North location and I believe the wife of the boss answered. She told me I needed a receipt number. No one asked me that before and I told her I didn’t have it because I was at work. She said couldn’t do anything without it and was just very rude to me,” McGill said.

McGill was finally able to schedule an appointment with a technician in May after originally purchasing her items in late January. But there was one detail she didn’t expect to hear while on a call with the repairman.

“He called me and asked me if I knew how much it would cost. I told him that no one discussed pricing,” she said. “I called and they said because the 30 day warranty had expired, I had to pay for parts. I told them since I bought the machine it hasn’t worked properly.”

The business never waived the fee and McGill said the washer is now leaking.

“I thought it was going to be a positive experience. It should have never taken this long,” she said.

If you are looking to purchase from a used appliance store, BBB advises you:

  • Review a company’s warranty and refund policy. The details of a warranty or refund may impact your decision to buy a product. Be sure to know details of a warranty, what it covers and its duration before you make your purchase. You may want to ask situational questions to get a better understanding of how much is being covered. Get all warranty details in writing.
  • Ask if the machine has been tested. If you are buying a used appliance, be sure to know if the machine works properly. Ask the business what condition the appliance was in when it was given to them. You don’t want an item that has the potential to break after being used the first few times. Also ask if the item is either like new or refurbished.
  • Don’t impulse buy. Check out other stores and compare prices. Do your research before deciding to purchase.
  • Check with BBB. Check the company’s BBB Business Review for valuable information like its BBB rating, customer reviews and complaint history.
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