KPRC 2 Investigates: Customer service runaround for months over missing fridge handles

HOUSTON – If you’ve been in the market for a new appliance lately, you probably noticed, you don’t have as many options and sometimes items are on backorder for months. So you might not be as picky when you do find one you want. That’s part of the problem for a west Houston man who has been dealing with a refrigerator problem since October.

Brand new fridge delivered with no handles

David Bradford was living out of a cooler for weeks, buying four bags of ice every day while waiting for his new fridge to arrive. So when he finally got it, he didn’t go with his gut when there was a problem at delivery.

“When the guy went out to the truck to get the handles, there were no handles on the truck,” said David Bradford.

Bradford’s brand new top-of-the-line Sears Kenmore Elite refrigerator was missing one of the most basic parts-- handles to open the doors.

KPRC 2 Investigates a strange refrigerator issue for one West Houston family. A brand new, elite refrigerator was delivered with no handles. They've been trying for months to get Sears to deliver new handles. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“These two vertical handles are missing and these horizontal handles are missing,” Bradford explained. “The way I have to open it is by holding these bolts and pulling like this. Then to open the crisper, I have to pull like this... this is painful on the fingers.”

KPRC 2 Investigates a strange refrigerator issue for one West Houston family. A brand new, elite refrigerator was delivered with no handles. They've been trying for months to get Sears to deliver new handles. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

Bradford tried calling, emailing, and texting for months

For more than three months now, Bradford has been trying to get Sears to send him new handles.

“I’ve repeatedly called Sears and would be transferred from one department to the next everyone assured me they could help me but they couldn’t,” he explained.

What’s more annoying, Sears keeps sending shipping confirmation texts and emails promising new handles were on the way.

KPRC 2 Investigates a strange refrigerator issue for one West Houston family. A brand new, elite refrigerator was delivered with no handles. Multiple confirmation messages said handles were on the way but that never happened. (Copyright 2023 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

“We probably had three separate occasions when they were scheduled to arrive. The last one I believe was December 15,” said Bradford. “The reason I called you is that I don’t know how to resolve this issue.”

In hindsight, Bradford thinks back to delivery day.

“Should I on day one have not accepted the refrigerator?”

Maybe so. (But in his defense, they had to remove the door frame of the home and work for several hours to even get the fridge into the home. No one realized the handles were missing until the final step.)

What to do when you have an appliance delivery

  • For any appliance delivery, you should never sign or accept the item if something is wrong.
  • During delivery, check both the inside and outside of the appliance, pull out drawers and shelves, inspecting everything. (You may remember, we introduced you to one woman who had issues with her fridge shelves. She didn’t notice the problem until she removed the shelves for cleaning weeks after her delivery.)
  • If there is a problem, contact the retailer while the delivery people are still there. Better yet, have them contact the retailer for you. Get any confirmation numbers they might have.
  • Take pictures and document everything.

“It’s a wonderful fridge. But without handles, it’s not that wonderful,” said Bradford.

In Bradford’s case, the delivery driver did contact Sears and ordered new handles while they were still at his home. After we contacted Sears, Bradford did finally get new handles. One thing Bradford did not try that may help if you have a similar issue is to publicly message the retailer on social media. You can also add photos of your issue and tag the retailer in the photos.

Why is it so hard to get parts for some items?

An industry expert told us sometimes with new styles of appliances newer parts are not in stock yet, so finding a replacement might take longer. Plus, things are still not back to normal after the pandemic shutdown and parts shortage.


About the Authors:

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.