Do appliance installers avoid attaching water lines?
April 3, 2008 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Scam-Filter: Do appliance installers commonly try to avoid attaching water lines?

I bought a washer/dryer and a refrigerator, with delivery and installation (supposedly). The washer/dryer folks came, put the washer/dryer where they were supposed to go, and hooked up the dryer. Then they said "oh, we don't have the right hose for the washer, you'll need to go buy one and hook it up yourself".

Well, lo and behold, a couple of hours later the refrigerator guys came. They put the refrigerator in place, and then said "oh, we don't have the right hose, you'll need to go buy one and hook it up yourself".

This was enough to trigger my scam detector. Do appliance stores commonly try to avoid attaching water lines? Something to do with liability and/or warranty coverage? This is in the US (Oregon), btw. If all I'm getting is delivery, and not installation, I could just buy the bloody things directly off the net.
posted by madmethods to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Did you call the manager of the service/delivery departments? Ask them to provide you with written proof that they don't install the proper hose. Since they've already delivered, it will be a hassle to get them to return if in fact they are required to install the appliances.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:18 PM on April 3, 2008

Same thing happened to me (Sears). I gave the refrigerator guys a real hard time about it and basically said put the fridge back on the truck and send me someone competent enough to attach the fucking water line and they said OK, just this one time, etc.... I don't know what the deal is, but I've experienced it and it's infuriating.
posted by mattbucher at 2:23 PM on April 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Anecdotally, for my last fridge purchase (10 years ago) and my last clothes washer purchase (4 years ago), the installer refused to hook either up to water. For the fridge, I suppose he was justified in that my previous one didn't have a water hookup and installing it required all sorts of drilling and fishing tubing through 12' of kitchen cabinets. For the washer, the guy gave me the hose excuse. I loudly complained to the store where I bought it, they sent someone else out with the right hose and hooked it up.

My SIL purchased a new fridge last month and the installer got the old one out and the new one in and plugged in but again, no previous water hookup so the installer didn't do that part. A friend also bought a new fridge last month, but her installer did do the water hookup: their previous fridge also had an automatic ice-maker and thus there was already a water line.

For my most recent dishwasher, the installer did hook it up to water (I think I would have beaten him to death if he tried avoiding it).
posted by jamaro at 2:25 PM on April 3, 2008

I'm in OR, and I've never had this problem - when we bought our fridge, the Best Buy guy hooked the whole thing up no problem. He did say that a lot of places won't do it, mostly because of liability issues - if they hook it up wrong and it breaks three months from now, they don't want to get sued.
posted by pdb at 2:38 PM on April 3, 2008

This is all with Sears: I bought a fridge with an ice maker. The old fridge had an ice maker so there was a pre-existing water line. They hooked up the electricity and water to the fridge.

A few days ago I bought a new range and a new power cord because the old power cord was pretty old. They hooked up the electricity but did not install the no-tip bracket in the back.

It's weird that you've had the same problem twice with the same company. I could see the dryer power cord being an issue. But it seems like the water lines for the washer should be a pretty standard size. (I'm in no way a plumber though so I could be entirely wrong). I would have thrown a fit about them not hooking up the fridge's water line. That's a big appliance to have to move around by yourself especially after you paid for them to install.
posted by GlowWyrm at 2:52 PM on April 3, 2008

Same thing happened to me in my first Oregon house. Guys from BestBuy refused to actually hook up the washer and Sears fridge people did the same with the refrigerator.

I think the deal is appliances come with cheapish plastic hoses and for long-term safety, you should go to a home center and buy a nice steel-braided line that won't fail five years down the line and flood your house. So I would guess for liability reasons (don't want people saying their hose exploded because of Best Buy's install three years from now) they try not to touch the water line and hope you'll do it yourself instead so they never get blamed for failures that will happen in the future.
posted by mathowie at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2008

You would think if it's just a liability issue then they could make you sign a waiver or add this indemnity to their purchase contract for appliances.
posted by mattbucher at 2:59 PM on April 3, 2008

Were these appliance installers or were they appliance deliverers?

"Appliance delivery technicians" are hired usually based on their ability to carry heavy appliances. They are not likely to have any formal plumbing training.

I wouldn't be surprised if they were not supposed to do any of the water hookups due to potential liability.

A leaky water line on a fridge could be potentially disastrous in a finished home.

The washer one is a bit puzzling, as they really don't have different types of hose that I know of. Perhaps the new unit didn't come with hookup hoses and your old ones were removed with the old washer.
posted by davey_darling at 3:00 PM on April 3, 2008

I would call and raise a little hell. I got a new washer and dryer from Sears last year and I think it was an extra 20 bucks or so for delivery and hook up. They rocked. Not only did they hook everything up, they took my old broken down machines and even wore little cotton booties over their shoes. I was so impressed I even offered the guy a tip, which he refused.
posted by snsranch at 3:29 PM on April 3, 2008

They hooked up the electricity but did not install the no-tip bracket in the back.

Really? The Sears delivery paperwork says "Delivery Teams will…[i]nstall a Range - Anti-tip device for free standing and slide-in ranges when providing a delivery with hook-up".
posted by oaf at 3:44 PM on April 3, 2008

I'm sure it's not a scam on the face of it. But most people in the customer home visit contractor industry are paid per visit. So they do their best to get in and out as fast as possible.
posted by gjc at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2008

Did you pay for installation? This costs more than the regular delivery charge. If you paid for installation, insist that they come back with the correct hose.
posted by winston at 5:55 PM on April 3, 2008

They (Sears) wants you to buy the hoses. It is that simple. The installer, who is a subcontractor, just shows up, at your request to hook up X. They consider the hoses "PARTS" and they do not provide "PARTS".

That is my experience (here in Chicago).
posted by zerobyproxy at 5:57 PM on April 3, 2008

Yea, that's right zerobyproxy. When I bought my new stuff, mentioned above, I HAD to purchase the "installation pack" which was just a little bag of replacement parts for the old hot/cold water inputs. It was about 10 bucks. That conversation happened on the sales floor, not at my house during the delivery. They would NOT sign me up for installation without it.
posted by snsranch at 7:02 PM on April 3, 2008

It's a couple of things.

Some appliances don't come with hoses or power cords, the same way most printers don't come with cables. This a little cost savings, and handy if you already have the parts, but sucks if you need them and the salesman doesn't mention it.

Liability is an issue. 15 years ago, my sister bought a washer from Sears, no one mentioned it didn't come with hoses. The delivery guy said the hoses she had were fine, and hooked it up. A hose burst the next day while she was at work. 6 months later she got a $4000 settlement for damages.
And as davey_darling pointed out, there is a difference between installers and delivery men. Hooking up a washer isn't very tricky, it's the same as attaching a garden hose. But if you need water run into a fridge for an ice maker, it may involve drilling through walls and plumbing.
posted by Marky at 9:33 PM on April 3, 2008

Yeah, it's not like no-burst washing machine hoses are expensive, or even difficult to install. (Technically, if you have rubber hoses, you're supposed to be turning the water spigot off when the machine is not in use. Did you know that? Do you do it? Heh, me neither.)

I have had pretty good experiences with Sears Home Services, or whatever their repair division is called. Professional guys in clean clothes with wireless computerized inventory and invoicing touchpads, and a truck full of parts, or they'll talk to every warehouse in the state to find what you need and have it shipped by air. Needless to say, you get what you pay for. But even if I would possibly be surprised to find that I had not paid for plumbing installation, I would understand, especially if I were told at time of sale. Normally with our rentals we save a sawbuck on delivery by using a trailer and an appliance hand-truck. A small investment which has paid off. But we know when we're shopping premium and when we're shopping dented and used.
posted by dhartung at 11:34 PM on April 3, 2008

As a contrast to dhartung's experience, I've had absolutely horrible experiences with Sear's Home Repair division, capped off with an incident year before last when our 7 month old $4500 furnace purchased from Sears broke a critical part and SHR simply couldn't get their act together to coordinate getting the part + the repair guy at my house at the same time. We were without heat for 3 1/2 weeks. In January.

Despite dozens of phone calls, multiple CSR promises and misinformation, repairman no-shows and the shipment of no less than 4 incorrect parts (all of which Sears attempted to charge me for), the issue was resolved by giving up on SHR and calling a local HVAC company, who got the supposedly "backordered across the entire USA" part and repaired the furnace 2 hours after my first phone call. SHR no longer allows their service people to go out with trucks filled with parts. They've shifted to a JIT parts inventory mgmt model which requires a repairman to show up to diagnose, SHR central ships the part to your home and the repairman shows up for a second visit to install.

Apparently, I'm not the only one who has had issues with SHR. (Just a small sampling. Google "Sears repair complaint" for an eyeful).

I'm sorry, but the experience I had with Sears was so incredibly bad, so beyond the pale of even marginally acceptable customer service, that I simply have to trash them at every opportunity.

Oh yeah, and they were the chumps who refused to hook up my washer & fridge, too.
posted by jamaro at 12:21 AM on April 4, 2008

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