Saturday, April 01, 2006

Whirlpool Side-By-Side Refrigerators Suck!

This blog pertains to a dispute I am having with Whirlpool Corporation over my unfortunate discovery that their condenser coil design on all of their Side by Side models (currently in the supply chain) is "flawed" due to the fact that you cannot gain complete access to clean them with a vaccum cleaner and/or coil brush by removing the front grill. You can't get into (inside) the condenser framework due to how Whirlpool mounted the condensor coil assembly on the refrigerator's structural framework (underneath).

There is a interior fan mounted at the rear of the unit that pulls air towards the coil from the front end of the unit - and as a result, dirt, lint and debris are then pulled inside and attach to the condenser coils. Over time the problem continously worsens, so I decided to contact Whirlpool Corporation Customer Service.

I emailed them and attached the images you see here with the various argument(s) presented.

Most recently on March 27, 2006 Whirlpool President, Jeff Fettig instructed Whirlpool's Senior Counsel, Michael L. Metzger to send a letter (above).


The following is the email dialog to date:

Michael L. Metzger
Senior Counsel
Whirlpool Corporation
2000 North M 63, MailDrop 2200
Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Dear Mr. Metzger:

RE: 03/27/06 Letter (attached)

When I first opened your letter and saw who it was from at Whirlpool, I chuckled. Mr. Metzger, don't you know that when a corporate lawyer speaks "exclusively" on behalf of Customer Service of a large corporation - Americans should be suspicious?

Your March 27, 2006 correspondence came with a focus, on ending customer communication with executives at one of America's largest corporations.

Your letter spoke VOLUMES when you relayed: "I am your Whirlpool contact from this day forward."

The attempt to exclusively bring me into your line of sight (legal line of fire) is a most curious effort indeed, as over the course of our conversations Whirlpool Customer Service Agent, Ms. Kadar, assured me over and over again, that Mr. Fettig and others at the Whirlpool "Executive Team" ENJOYED receiving emails from end-users of your products and that those emails and letters serve as a true barometer of "how well" Whirlpool is doing in the field.

Perhaps what Ms. Kadar really meant was that the only correspondences those at the Whirlpool Executive Team really "like" to receive are the complimentary ones?

I know for certain, by Whirlpool's various responses to date, that I have brought an legitimate complaint forward that has a lot of merit. That's why you are trying to shut me up about it. Not likely.

For clarification, Whirlpool (via your letter) has since corrected Ms. Kadar's misleading statement that their was a difference in side by side condenser coil designs. I want you to know, that I know, that Ms. Kadar's efforts were simply an oversight on her part. Actually I am grateful to her, as the trip to Best Buy consisting of examining Whirlpool's entire line, is what lead to my discovery that all Whirlpool side by side models are the same condenser coil design and that the problem is systemic.

Oh and for the record Metzger, I'll communicate with whomever I choose to in Corporate America and your attempts (in your March 27, 2006 letter) to silence that consumer-based rapport, only serves as "additional fuel" for this blog.

I find your letter dated March 27, 2006 quite transparent. I resent the way you tried to play me for a fool when you indicate that you specifically met my request for a "technical explanation". Via a lawyer's letter? Hardly sir.


It is "physically impossible" to properly and thoroughly clean the condenser coils on Whirlpool side-by-side models.

This statement is an engineering fact as it pertains to this end-user.

Access is made impossible by the way the coils are bolted on to the frame (underneath) and thus positioned in an "East-West" configuration thus making it physically impossible to reach through to the individual "V" contours behind where the filth is now collecting under my current model.

You admit in your letter that Whirlpool does NOT manufacture a side by side refrigerators with a different coil design, therefore ALL Whirlpool side by side units in the supply chain are of this design.

The design is indeed a flawed one, as it fails to account for the enormous collection of dirt over time, that cannot be properly removed by average consumers. It would require a technician to gain access to the inside of the cabinet to completely clean these condenser coils properly.

You know I don't want a TOP/BOTTOM unit either or I wouldn't have purchased a side by side. Whirlpool's Sales and Marketing would understand my reasoning there.

Your (Whirlpool's) claims that the collection of dust and lint debris will not degrade the compressor due to inherent reduced heat loads is dubious at best, as you fail to provide any solid technical data to back-up those claims (you are a lawyer not an engineer).

Your letter also fails to address the other "hazards" associated with an enormous collection of dust and dirt that accumulates underneath your side by side units over time, that can't be fully accessed by end users.

It sucks Michael, and while I know you might not see this as a problem, I do, and it's why I contacted Whirlpool in the first place.

All I know is that we spent over a $1000 dollars and inherited your lousy coil design.

I researched the problem further only to discover that your entire side by side line has the same coil configuration problem.

Shame on you and Whirlpool.


Attached you will find Ms. Kadar's letter dated March 9, 2006.

Will someone kindly explain (for the record) why Ms. Kadar maintains in her letter that an exchange is even possible when I have explained both to her and everyone copied on this email, that when I went to Best Buy (as instructed by Whirlpool) that every single side by side model on the floor had the same condenser coil configuration - making it physically impossible to clean with a brush or vacuum?

I'm confused and bewildered, as even Ms. Kadar finally admitted in our last conversation that all the coil designs are the same configuration on the side by side models.


Why was I sent (on a wild goose chase) to Best Buy?

If one of the models listed in Ms. Kadar's letter is a side by side model with a condenser coil arrangement that is DIFFERENT, please inform me of such.

Whirlpool maintains that is "strives" to provide the "best" customer service. Not a single person at the Whirlpool Executive team other that Ms. Kadar has bothered to respond with a technical dialog; instead, the telephone contact with Ms. Kadar has been a back and forth, fraught with communication impediments and has essentially lead "no where" and run me around.

Does this sort of outcome meet Whirlpool's claim of superior customer service?

Why is Whirlpool engaged in cryptic behavior such as sending signed receipt certified mail and making what appear to be false and or misleading statements about the condenser coil designs on its side-by-side models?

Why shouldn't this issue, if left unresolved by Whirlpool Corporation, lead to a consumer critical blog, when Whirlpool has every opportunity to respond in a professional manner that includes a TECHNICAL explanation in response to my complaint about the condenser coils?

I would advise that Whirpool make some sort of official (technical) response.


Dear Mr. Fettig:

As the Executive Team is aware, I have been dealing with Vanessa.

After all is said and done, I remain "bewildered" and extremely disappointed.

I am not questioning Vanessa's level of commitment - but the Whirlpool customer service process has been taxing, yielded no resolution to the problem.

It's most odd, as Vanessa first indicated (last week) that I was initially "correct", that the condenser coil design was indeed "flawed" as I had initially indicated (email and photos below) but that the design configuration of the coils had recently been changed (reoriented for cleaning) and that I could find a unit identical to the side by side I currently have but with an updated and improved condenser coil design. Vanessa indicated that BEST BUY had the "new" models and that I should go look at them.

We arrived at Best Buy on March 4, 2006 and I went for the Whirlpool models on the floor. None of the units present even remotely matched the model numbers Vanessa provided me. I did however take the opportunity to examine every Whirlpool side by side model there by pulling off the front grill. Every unit (including the gold series models) had exactly the same condenser coil orientation; it's a configuration that does not allow for cleaning, from any approach or angle since the "V" arrangement is angled in such a way that makes it impossible to reach in between with a coil brush or vacuum hose.

I mentioned to my wife on the way out of BEST BUY that this was obviously a "wasted trip all at our expense" and that it's now "quite obvious" that the problem is systemic throughout the Whirlpool side by side line.

It also totally ESCAPES me "how" Vanessa came to the initial information that condenser coils are on any of the side by sides are different or updated, as they aren't.

I called Vanessa on March 6, 2006 with the bad news and made the excellent point that Whirlpool is wasting our time, running us around while I have inherited an ongoing maintenance problem. Once again, as stated numerous times before, Vanessa offered a full refund.

Whirlpool doesn't really seem to "get it" on this "refund" aspect - but I will clarify:

While a full refund for the "box" seems like "a great way out for Whirlpool", it is a method and practice that fails to take into account our lost time, effort, expense and inconvenience of going through another removal and install. It is something that is daunting to even think about. Obviously we would have to go back to Lowes (another trip) have to go through extensive product research, another delivery fee, another install, a potential plumbing issue with the ice maker water line hook-up (older home) pull out all the food (it's a lot) and somehow make room for the Whirlpool that would be going back, somewhere outside the home (or whatever) until the unit is finally picked up by Whirlpool. Forget it.

This isn't a "solution" to the problem, this is Whirlpool's way to relieve Whirlpool of further liability as we incur all the inconvenience, hassle and expense. I tried to explain this concept to Vanessa but it all failed to penetrate. Vanessa then entered into a discussion about a coil brush that Whirlpool would send, that would be able to access the coils. I explained to Vanessa that even a coil brush would not work due to the inability of the brush to reach through the framework of the coils due to the configuration. There is simply no way to get in with a brush since the "V" folds are not reachable from the front of the unit. Our conversation concluded.

Vanessa called back yesterday (March 7, 2006) to tell me that a coil brush would be arriving and to try it out. I once again expressed frustration knowing that this particular effort is futile due to the coil design and lack of available access.

Well, the coil brush came today (thank-you) although as I have repeatedly stated, after I pulled off the grille (just now) there is no way this coil brush will fit between the finely knit frame that supports the coils. The orientation of the condenser makes it impossible to reach "inside and throughout the framework", in order to remove the debris that is constantly accumulating inside the condenser (drawn in by the fan).

It's also noteworthy to mention that in my latter discussions with Vanessa, she ultimately stated "I have talked with the engineering department and they have told me that tests were performed - with lint choking the condenser coils - and there was no increase in heat or electrical consumption." I knew right off the bat that this statement has no scientific basis, as even the coil brush's packaging material states right up front: "Clean your refrigerator's condenser coils and save energy."

It's nothing less than a "consumer travesty" to learn that Whirlpool is actually mass producing side by side refrigerators that all have the same flawed condenser coil configuration, one that DOES NOT allow for cleaning.

As I stated to Vanessa yesterday, I'm essentially "stuck" with this issue that will only become worse as time goes on, making for a filthy dust-laden environment underneath the unit. wrote:


Could you please bring this e-mail to attention of the Executive Team?

Thanks much, Steve
Stephen DuthieManager, Global CommunicationsWhirlpool Corporation
off: 269-923-3373
fax: 269-923-5486

Mr. Jeff M. Fettig, President
Whirlpool Corporation
2000 N. M-63
Benton Harbor, MI 49022-2692

February 26, 2006

RE: Bad coil design Model ED5VHGXMO10- Serial# SS2430981

Dear Mr. Fettig:

Attached you will find .jpg images of my original sales receipt, and two descriptive photographs, outlining the problem with this particular model's condenser coils.

The coils are configured in a "V" shape and are aimed in an "east-west" orientation, making them impossible to reach, clean, or vacuum.

We had the unit delivered by Lowes and placed in our kitchen July 2005. Even with regular, weekly vacuuming around the unit, the inner "V" sections of the the condenser coils are already choking with dirt and unreachable. BAD DESIGN.

This is a problem that will only become worse over time as the dirty condition only progresses, thus decreasing the heat exchange efficiency of the coils (choking them with dirt) thus eventually straining the compressor and decreasing the unit's overall efficiency; plus raising the amount of electricity required to perform the operational task. All of which would be totally avoidable if the condenser coils were accessible for cleaning.

We can't help but feel deceived, knowing that we spent over $1000.00 to only inherit a design flaw in Whirlpool's "technology" for this model.

To be quite frank about it, it appears like "built-in obsolescence" as if the condenser coils were serviceable, it would conclusively (significantly) improve the efficiency and the overall life expectancy of the refrigerator.

Improper heat exchange via the condensor coils is the eventual death knell to all compressor driven refrigeration.

If Whirlpool Corporation has an equal or better model that you would be willing to exchange and install as a resolution to this consumer complaint, that would be most acceptable to us.

Your immediate attention is requested.



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