Did I get scammed? And how do I fix my stupid fridge?
November 21, 2020 4:56 PM   Subscribe

Tried to get my fridge fixed but now I feel like I'm being scammed. What do I do?

UGH this is so stupid and I'm so mad at myself.

I recently bought a house that I am renting out to tenants. The fridge broke and I had a really difficult time finding a company to repair it, since it's a Samsung and apparently no one around me works on Samsungs.

ANYWAY, I was in a panic because the fridge was leaking onto my hardwood floors and I needed to get it fixed asap. I found a company online and they sent a guy out to diagnose it. He called me and said I need a part and he could order it from me, but I had to pay up front. $550 total. In cash. I KNOW, I KNOW. I wasnt thinking clearly. My life is a mess lately (like everyone in 2020) and I just wanted it fixed.

So I gave him the $550 in cash. That was six weeks ago....and the part never came and he never fixed it and my fridge is still leaking and I'm freaking out. Heres the weird part. He still answers my phone calls and txts. He says his partner got Covid and he's working all by himself and he's so sorry and the company sent the wrong part, so he had to send it back and is waiting for the new part and he'll call me as soon as it comes in etc etc. We speak maybe once a week and he swears up and down that he's not ripping me off - he's at the mercy of the supplier.

NOW if it was a scam, why would this guy answer me with more and more excuses? Wouldnt he just ghost? But either way, I need my fridge fixed or my money back. What should I do? If I had paid by credit card, I would stop the payment and move on to another repair company. But I dont see how I could possibly get my money back from him. $550 is a lot of money to me. But on the other hand, my floors are definitely getting damaged. And on the THIRD hand.... I cant find any other repair company to fix samsungs. So I'd possibly have to buy a whole new fridge for at least $1000.

Sorry so rambly. I guess my questions are A. does this sound like a scam, or just a terrible mess? B. How can I stop the bleeding and do something constructive about it?
posted by silverstatue to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Oh boy, at first glance I would say this doesn't bode well. But maybe there is hope. My daughter-in-law called a plumber once and he was not helpful at all; it was the end of the day and he was more interested in going home for the day than fixing the kitchen drain. Had my 6'6", 300 lb. son been home, I doubt the plumber would have pulled that trick. Anyway, my point is, perhaps have a male call the guy and see if that motivates him. Another alternative that might work is small claims court. I am confused as to why a new refrigerator would cost $1000. When I look at Sears and Home Depot websites, they have perfectly decent-looking refrigerators for about $500, and I see that my local Craigslist has used ones available for $250-$350.
posted by SageTrail at 5:16 PM on November 21

So for what it's worth, and this doesn't mean you're not getting scammed... there is a legitimate shortage of fridge and other appliance parts (and wholes). There's been supply chain interruption because of COVID plus with people home all the time, things are breaking more: a bad combo. We ran into this with a dishwasher that took about a month to get fixed. Again, I can't speak to whether you're getting scammed here but it's something to take into account as you calibrate your bullshit meter.
posted by babelfish at 5:26 PM on November 21 [4 favorites]

Hmm, that's a tough one. I'm sorry that this is so much trouble for you.

There are a few things that sound not great about this. For one, you say that the floors are still getting damaged. If the water to the fridge (ice maker and drink dispenser if you have one) is turned off, shouldn't that stop the leak, and stop the damage to the floor? Why didn't the repair person help you do that? Any other plumber or handyman should be able to help you with that. Your tenants should be guaranteed a freezing freezer and a cool fridge, but probably aren't guaranteed an icemaker, especially at the cost of your floor.

Did you get an itemized receipt, or any receipt for your cash payment? One question is how much you owe for the housecall, how much for the part, and how much was payment for the labor of installing it. If you want to back out of the arrangement, I would expect you could or should be refunded for any labor not performed, and for the price of the part, minus a reasonable restocking fee.

If there's no receipt and cash went into the guy's pocket, that is not great for you-- you may want to try to figure out how to get solid proof that you paid that money.
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 6:22 PM on November 21

Also, for a water leak for a Samsung fridge, my dad and I worked on my sister's fridge last Thanksgiving. A replacement icemaker is $100-120 at home depot, and a watervalve $80 online (she doesn't have a drink dispenser.)
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 6:24 PM on November 21

I have a receipt from him but it just says "fridge repair". It does say that it was paid in full.

The water is coming from the freezer portion (bottom third of the fridge). He did not turn anything off. He said it was the sleeve that needed to be replaced. Basically of the $550, $125 was the original visit and diagnosis, $88 is the labor to do the repair, and the rest was the part and shipping.
posted by silverstatue at 7:16 PM on November 21

Call somebody else to remove the broken, floor damaging fridge and replace it with a new fridge, $600 delivered and installed. Call the bad fridge repairman and tell him you want your money back, all of it, because he didn’t do the job, didn’t deliver the part or install it, and allowed your floors to continue to be damaged. Maybe he meant to rip you off, maybe he didn’t, but the end result is you have been ripped off. Small claims court, complaint against his license, Yelp complaint, calling his mom, whatever, try as you might you have lost most of that money. You have tenants and real property. You have to provide a working fridge that does not diminish the value of your own property by damaging the floors. You better get on that before you lose more money.
posted by KayQuestions at 10:07 PM on November 21 [9 favorites]

Yeah for that kind of repair money I’m buying a new fridge. It should NOT cost $550 to repair a simple condenser line leak, and it’s most likely a clogged or possibly frozen drain line. Usually accessible from a panel behind the fridge at the bottom. But Samsung appliances are a huge pain in the ass to work on and notorious for problems like this. (So is Frigidaire —whatever you do, DO NOT BUY A FRIGIDAIRE as replacement, trust me please!).

I’d be buying the simplest basic white fridge I could find for a rental property. Your tenants don’t need an ice maker.

You never want ice makers or cold water taps or any of that junk, really you don’t, your fridge is to keep food cold and that’s it. Having running water under pressure in an appliance that doesn’t need it is foolish. Those systems always fail first, they do real water damage when they do, and they cost a fortune to fix because you need a plumber and not just an appliance person. Also, no WiFi, no monitors, no superfluous electronics or features. A basic white freezer on top fridge.

I can confirm that appliance repair people are slammed these days, parts are indeed in short supply, and you are not alone with this. Everyone buying houses and living full time and densely in what had been part-time houses in suburban/rural areas has created a massive crazy demand situation for every trade. My chimney guy, septic guy, electrician, and oil burner guy have all confirmed they are overbooked like crazy, scheduling jobs into February, and having trouble getting parts. You can limp a shitty septic system or heating system along for years running it just a few weekends a year and having only two people in the house. Now those houses have extended families in them and are occupied full time around me (I live in a popular area for summer and weekend homes, and indeed live in a place we bought for that purpose, before the pandemic). and their systems are failing. Same is true for appliances. The problem is real, and your best bet is a new fridge. Put the old one in a basement and fix it later if you want to.
posted by spitbull at 4:55 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]

I had a broken Samsung fridge in my rental and it took 4 months for my landlord to finally get it replaced because he was messed around in the same manner, and this was before covid. It doesn't surprise me at all that they are having trouble getting the part right now. I begged for my landlord to just buy a standard white refrigerator instead, but he insisted on waiting for it to be fixed. He finally replaced it with an equally expensive stainless steel fridge. It was a whole thing, and I really just wish that he had thrown a cheap working refrigerator into the spot when the problem started. I lived for 4 months without a working refrigerator, there was constantly water all over my floor that I had to mop up, and it was a huge debacle that really lowered my quality of life. Plus, I absolutely hate my new refrigerator! Freezer drawers should not exist (but I digress).
posted by k8lin at 7:58 AM on November 22 [3 favorites]

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