Slidell, La.- After being installed a few years ago, a Slidell family's A/C unit showed signs it was starting to fail, but the warranty on the well-known appliance brand they thought would cover it, was actually cut in half. The FOX 8 Defenders explain what happened and how this homeowner isn't alone in their consumer complaint.
When Walt Cleighton rebuilt his Quail Ridge home in Slidell after Katrina, he installed not one or two, but three Amana air and heating units. He said he chose Amana for a couple of reasons. "We knew it was a good brand, but at the same time, the 10-year warranty was the real key.. well 10-years will take us all the way out to 2017.. that sounded really good," explained Clayton.
Fast forward five years and about a month, and Cleighton said his serviceman, who checks the units twice a year, discovered a problem. "He said, hey your pressure is down to 48-pounds, and he said we didn't do anything to it, has anything happened to it? and he checked it and he said well, it's got a leak in the air handler," said Cleighton.
Pictures of the air handler's evaporator coil, considered a vital tool for cooling performance, showed signs of rusting. But when Cleighton's serviceman called Amana, he said they told him it's out of warranty and that they didn't get the full 10-year warranty because they didn't register.
One of the reasons Cleighton said he purchased the unit was because he was told it included a 10-year warranty, and these problems started after just five years. "Little did we know that at the time, the installer or salesman is supposed to tell you that once the installation occurs, you have 60 days to go online and register with Amana, and if you don't do that, you only get a five-year warranty, not a 10-year warranty," said Cleighton. He explained, that was the first he's heard of that.
The warranty section of Amana's website says.."to receive the lifetime limited warranty, online registration is required within 60 days of installation." It's in lighter, fine print buried at the bottom of the page.
After calling Amana, and then getting transferred to its parent company, Goodman, Cleighton said he had trouble getting anyone to call him back, and when they did, he says no one could help him. "I watch Channel 8 all the time. I got thinking and said well I'm gonna try the FOX 8 Defenders. I mean I have nothing to lose," said Cleighton.
Volunteers with the National Council of Jewish Women who staff the FOX 8 Defenders started working the phone lines. "From the day I called her (defenders volunteer), I think it was a Tuesday to a Wednesday morning bright and early, I got a call from Claudette from Amana. She was customer relations and said we're gonna extend your warranty by 30 days," said Cleighton.
He said Amana finally replaced his faulty evaporator coil. In researching his complaint, we found he's not alone. Lawyers in Florida, filed a class action suit against the manufacturer alleging the air conditioners.."contain defective evaporator coils that improperly and prematurely leak refrigerant under normal use."
The suit also claims that the manufacturer's repair technicians would attempt to refill the refrigerant so that the AC would continue to function for the remainder of the warranty before failing altogether, essentially depriving customers of warranty coverage.