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Who to take to small claims..retailer or manufacturer

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Jimbo Slice, Aug 19, 2019.

  1. Jimbo Slice

    Jimbo Slice Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Bought a built in sub zero refridgerator at $4500. About 8 months into using it, the freezer goes out. I call the manufactuer for warranty and they give me the run around for months because they can't find a tech to fix it. They finally get a guy and he can't fix it because he is unfamiliar. Months later they get a guy 2.5 hours away to come and put a new sensor, but does nothing. Currently getting the run around again. We haven't had a freezer for 5 months now and counting. I have called the retailer and they manufacturer constantly with no end in sight. So I am giving up and going to small claims for a refund. So would this be the manufacturer, or the retailer that sold me the refridgerator?
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Manufacturer. The retailer is out of the loop unless they offered a separate warranty of some kind.
    Read the terms of your warranty carefully. Before you run off to court I suggest you write a polite letter to the company explaining the situation, the service you have received, and your expectations for repair or refund. Give them an opportunity to reply to that before you go to court.
     
  3. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    I agree with @mightymoose about contacting the company, which you likely need to do to document the nature of your dispute and attempt to settle. Take note most small claims courts may require suit be brought in the county of the defendant. Unless the defendant is located nearby, small claims court may not be a viable option. I wonder how many consumer warranties are offered having in mind that most consumers will never be able to take advantage of them in a practical fashion. In many instances the leverage the consumer has is reporting the manufacturer to relevant parties, e.g. the vendor (who may not want to sell products from manufacturers that will leave its customers with a very poor experience), relevant consumer agencies, well known sources with public ratings of products, etc.
     
  4. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Arguably both (although the case against the retailer would be very weak since you apparently used the item without issue for 8 months), and since it's small claims court, there's no down side to naming both.
     
  5. Michael Wechsler

    Michael Wechsler Administrator Staff Member

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    That's usually what happens, if the plaintiff can bring such a case. It's probably a good idea to contact the Better Business Bureau and state consumer protection offices, where you may be able to file a complaint should the warranty eventually be determined to be tantamount to fraud. I took at that FTC website and they have several suggestions. But in all cases you should (and must) try to work it out with the manufacturer and certainly in writing. There is also the attorney general for the state of California - you may reach them with consumer complaints.

    FTC: Warranties

    California Attorney General: Protecting Consumers

    Consumer Self-Help, Tips & Resources to Resolve Consumer Complaints - California Department of Consumer Affairs
     
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  6. Jimbo Slice

    Jimbo Slice Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Yeah, the retailer has been very helpful. But, in my mind, they sold me the appliance promising a manufacture warranty, and also paid for a 5 year extended. I asked them if they can just take the refrigerator back and give me a credit for a different refrigerator, but they said no. In regards to the manufacturer, I have literally called the manufacturer 15-20 times. They always say the same thing. They are still looking for a technician. They will call me when they find one. They even asked me if I knew any. Apparently, techs don't accept jobs for this German made refridgerator. Anyway, they never call, and I end up calling them, and its the same story. Anyway, thanks for the input. I will write a letter and send it certified and see what they say. Thank you all.
     
  7. PayrollHRGuy

    PayrollHRGuy Active Member

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    The manufacturer's warranty wasn't offered by the seller. It was offered by the manufacturer. Is the extended warranty a third party insurer?

    You just need to move up the latter at Sub Zero.
     
  8. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Extended warranty will kick in after the manufacture warranty expires.

    Do all of your communication in writing. Stop calling them and getting the run around.

    If you have a copy of it, cite the relevant parts of the warranty in your letter that obligates them to fix the problem.

    Don't threaten to sue them in your letter. Mentioning that could shut them down... They already know what your options are if they don't honor the warranty. Be polite, but express your frustration with how they have responded to you so far.

    Ask for them to kindly respond in writing and give them a reasonable deadline... Say 14 days from receipt.
     
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  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    And that's exactly what you got, which means your claim is against the manufacturer or the company that gave the warranty.

    The retailer can do that, but it would have no reason to do so (other than customer relations).
     
  10. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    Refer to the terms of the warranty for your legal options related to the warranty. I suspect that your avenues are restricted.
     
  11. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Someone's suspicions seem to be on point...
     

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