HOUSTON – Supply chain issues mean low inventory on everything from cars to new appliances. And now, some consumers are learning that even keeping the appliances they have in good working order is a challenge. Our KPRC 2 Investigates team is looking into what you need to know if you need an appliance repaired right now.
Trouble finding parts for appliance repairs
Often times a new car is a want. You can make do with the car you’re driving. But if your refrigerator or oven stops working, that’s a bigger problem. And if that happens to you right now, you may be in for a long wait.
Courtney Bolton’s mother spent nearly $1,700 on a new whirlpool refrigerator. When it suddenly stopped working just five months after she purchased it, she called Whirlpool.
“They said she needed roughly four parts, but they didn’t have those parts in stock. And it would be awhile for them to be able to get those parts,” explained Bolton.
Since her mom purchased the extra warranty, they asked Whirlpool to send a new fridge if that was faster. She explained that the fridge is a necessity for her diabetic mother.
“It’s really important for her to be able to keep her medications and keep food,” said Bolton. “People need refrigerated food in their house.”
Repeat appliance repair delays
The family first called whirlpool when the fridge broke on December 3, 2021. The company said her new fridge would arrive on February 9, then the 16th, then March 14. While she waited, Courtney’s mom had only a small fridge in her home for four months.
Marco Ramos is the owner of Appliance Cowboys in Houston.
“If we can’t get the parts, you know, these big companies can’t get the parts either,” Ramos said.
He said he’s never seen anything like the parts shortage the industry is experiencing right now. Before the pandemic, he said he could get parts the same day or maybe two to three days max. Now, the parts warehouses he orders from are taking weeks to get what he needs.
“They’re just stating that nothing’s coming in. That they’re waiting on parts to come in and that they’re giving them, whenever that day comes, they’re giving them a different date.”
What can customers do if they can’t find appliance parts?
Ramos is dealing with one delay after another. With his hands tied, we asked Ramos what he tells customers waiting on fixes for refrigerators.
“What I’m telling customers is to buy a used fridge that’s about 10-15 years old,” Ramos said.
Ramos offers this advice to customers who want to buy a cheap fridge for their garage while waiting on repairs to their main fridge. But he says smaller basic models that used to be $700 to $900 new are now more than $1,500. So look on Facebook marketplace sites and other listings for used appliances.
“I just want something that’s gonna keep my food cold,” said Bolton.
Appliance Cowboys only provides original manufacturer parts but Ramos says some customers are finding aftermarket parts online.
“And at that point what we do is ‘Hey, you purchase your own part. You know, we’re not responsible if it’s damaged, but we’ll gladly do the install for you,’ just to try to meet our customers halfway.”
Whirlpool wouldn’t tell us what took so long, but a week after we called about Bolton’s case the company replaced this broken fridge with a new one. Ramos says on average out of 40 customers his company sees a week about half of those will have to wait for parts.