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Has The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Aug 31, 2010 (Updated Dec 9, 2013)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
CONSUMER ALERT: On Dec 4, 2013 I had to have a service call but fortunately I had purchased the extended maintenance contract for $149 which is to expire on Aug 10,2014. Otherwise I may have been charged $200+.
Recommend this product?
There was water coming from the floor of the freezer drawer. Upon opening it I found a sheet of ice so I could assume that as water was being created from the defrost cycle it was not draining but flowing to the bottom of the freezer and then out of the box onto our flooring as the little recessed area was filled with the ice.
I learned from the technician (with a little prodding for info) that there are several brands using the same box but the outside cosmetics are changed to distinguish their name. He told me that he has had numerous calls in the past three years for the same problem. Seems that there is a small drain hole so that when the defrost cycle ceases then the water near the hole freezes just a bit each time. It took over three years for mine to have the problem but I surmise that with only two of us in the household we do not open the freezer as often as others do.
The tech had to put a probe (the corrective piece) into the hold that will heat up the water as it drains, as part of the defrost cycle, and retain enough heat to keep the drain hole open to complete the drainage. Here's the kicker. These manufacturers are not distributing a correction or a maintenance recall even though they know the problem exists. Instead, many people are being charged for the correction if they do not have the extended warranty since only a small number have the problem while under manufacturer's warranty. *****
***START of original review---First, for those unaware of it, Maytag actually is one of the Whirlpool brands. Despite being known historically for washers ("The Maytag Man is one of the loneliest men"), it is now considered to be a consumer force in the bottom-freezer section of the market. Maytag was one of the first companies to have a French-door model with an external ice-and-water dispenser and a cabinet-depth model with an external dispenser. That distinction did not play a part in my decision since I wanted only the French doors and believed the "extras" to be unnecessary expenses and souces of problems.
It has been about 17 years since I have purchased a refrigerator although the Kenmore that I had came with the house I purchased but was only 9.5 years old before the compressor went kaput. I feel that a Sears product should last longer than the average so I eliminated that brand from consideration based on that one experience. So, in the 17 years that passed I might as well have been a time traveler because the learning curve started at zero again.
The first thing that I had to know was the overall cubic feet of space that I wanted. I was in the 23-25cf capacity market because I had owned a 21cf model. By the way, the advertised overall cubic footage is different from the usable space. This model was advertised as having 24.8cf but the usable space is 14.5cf that is split with the fridge having 10.4cf and the freezer having 4.1cf. If you have a chest freezer like we do, you will probably find that you wish that you had one of the freezer's cubic feet subtracted and added to the fridge's usable space.
Next, I wanted a brand that had a reliable repair/recall record and good to excellent customer service reputation. This eliminated a few brands with the most notorious being LG. They are supposed to have a good product but when I researched the different brands I encountered horror stories of internal fires due to the light not going off and melting the plastic and, of course, raising the temperature inside and spoiling all of the owners' food overnight. This was followed by the stories of trying to deal with arrogant and rude customer service representatives when they attempted to get their warranty honored or a replacement appliance delivered.
The cubc footage meant that I had to be keenly aware of the unit's outside measurements for the space that I had to use to slide the new one in under the kitchen cabinets. It also meant that it limited the brands that could accommodate the capacity and height restriction that I had in mind. I had read and heard of too many people who did not think of this obvious criterion and found themselves with a refrigerator that could not slide into the only space that they had. This necessitated removing cabinets or at best getting someone to shave the needed amount of wood off of the bottom of their cabinet to give the needed height.
I sweated a bit between the time I ordered and its arrival because there might be a chance that the manufacturer was wrong or I misunderstood the place of the measurement. As it turned out, the hinge was about one inch higher than the back part so it obscures part of the bottom cabinet frame. No biggie for us especially since I could proudly show everyone as it slid into place that I still had a 1/8" gap. Maybe I'll store a few pieces of paper there.
This unit had been manufactured on July 22, 2010 and was delivered on August 27th. This was needed information for the energy efficiency factor. Efficiency is an important consideration and the cost of this one to operate for one year is $61. Other models ranged from $52 to $66 but I never researched how they determine that cost since the utility rates vary in the country. In determining an energy efficiency rating, the engineers factor usable volume into account. This is more useful especially when making comparisons across different refrigerator categories. So, the yellow EnergyGuide label and Energy Star symbol are beneficial to the consumer.
I had learned that refrigerators made after the end of April 2008 must be 5 percent more efficient than the earlier models to qualify for an Energy Star emblem. Even though we have made advances in making things more efficient today, a refrigerator still is the appliance that uses more electricity than any other kitchen appliance. This is because they continually operate. Some brochures claim that today's refrigerators can save a household up to $100 a year on the electric bill. If true then, with expected rate increases, this refrigerator should have paid for itself in 10 years which is probably when it will take it's last gasp.
Next, I was sure that I did not want a water dispenser or an ice cube maker. The reason is that when you read about service and repair problems in a variety brands and models, defects and malfunctions in the water dispensers and ice makers jump out of the stats that can be reviewed. It's not difficult to guess why. You are dealing with a lot of different types of water quality that can cause flow obstacles; it can lay dormant for a time and give "off" water when finally needed; it has an electronic component; improperly wrapped food can give an off taste to the ice; etc etc.
You might not believe how difficult it is to find a model in the mid-price range with the features that you want but no water line hook-up. Since they are not customized, you have to deal with it which is what I did. I found that this model had an icemaker that took up about a 1/2 cf space and would serve no useful purpose for us if we left it in place. It was secured by three small screws. One was easy to take out, the second took a little twisting of the body to get to, and the third was just nothing but a bee-atch to get out. I had to do some contortions and use a mirror and socket screw driver with an extension to get to it. Success after only 45 minutes.
I should add that when the delivery men set up they missed an important step. Since I told them not to hook up the water line they were supposed to put the ice maker in the off position. Two hours later when I got to the step of removing it I found it in the "on" position (referring to the wire that is raised as the ice accumulates and shuts off the mechanism). In big letters pasted on the unit is the warning in big capital letters that when the unit is turned on but the water line is not connected then "IMMEDIATELY TURN THE ICEMAKER OFF" and it is accompanied by a diagram. Unfortunately, this warning can only be seen when you are kneeling on the floor and trying to get to the screws that secure it to the wall of the refrigerator.
After I got the screws off I had to unplug the electronic connector without being able to see how it locked into place and no guidance was provided in the booklet. When I got it out I saw the shabbiest piece of extended tubing where the water would be funneled into the ice maker. Thank goodness I took it off. It now sits bagged in the basement in the event that it is sold down the road and the next person cannot live without an icemaker.
Now, in making my choice I had to decide on the appearance I wanted. I could order white which would not be suitable for our kitchen. The second choice was stainless steel at extra cost that would require very careful cleaning and maintenance to avoid marring the appearance. The last option that we selected was the smooth black doors and handles. The black one looked good but also necessitats a lot of care in cleaning. For example, you can only use warm soapy water with a sponge or cloth and then dry only with a dry soft clean cloth. If you want to wax it then you have to be sure to obtain an automotive or appliance wax that is specifically identified for clear coat surfaces. Why Maytag/Whirlpool did not put a textured finish on their doors perhaps may be answered someplace but I could not find it. It probably boils down to the American obsession with looks instead of practicality and being functional.
I have to admit that when it is clean it does look good. If you have kids or some other type of slob in the household, however, then the fingerprints and greasy spots that are easy to leave will drive you crazy.
Now I do like the French doors but there's a problem that a different design could have easily corrected. The idea of French doors is to avoid having to open the refrigerator to a full blast of warm room air. So, why did they make it so that when you want to open the right bin (for fruit or vegetables) you have to open both doors to have that draw pull out. The same problem exists with the deli drawer. It's a nice and convenient concept except that instead of making two deli drawers they made it as one long one that is as wide as the refrigerator. So, for example, if you want to take out only a hunk of cheese then you have open both doors and bring out the drawer to get to it. That wastes the cool air as well as being inconvenient.
For the record, after reading of so many brands with so many problems, I purchased the 4 year extended warranty from Lowe's Department Store. This was my first appliance purchase from Lowe's but it started well when they agreed to match a competing store's price, offered the warranty for $80 less and provided home delivery for free. The drawback was that it took them two weeks to obtain it from the manufacturer as compared to their competitor which would have had it in 4 days from another store. Also, they put the wrong date in the computer for delivery but that was corrected after I made it clear that they would lose the sale if I did not get the original date agreed upon two weeks earlier. It took a little bit of prodding but overall it was not a bad experience with Lowe's except for what they did to my wood floors which I did not notice until a day later (and good luck making a claim once they have departed).
I have used the warranty in the first three days. My wife noticed on the first night that the finish on the doors had finishing defects. Although the salesman at Lowe's tried the "you accepted it and signed for it" ploy. The point was made by me that I wasn't going to skulk away easily. As part of the warranty, Lowes contracts out the repair service. Lowe's assisted with making the appointment and the man arrived the next workday. He was in the house for two minutes when he said "Yep, I see it. I'll get the part number and put it on order." Oddly, the doors are to be sent to our house and then I call the serviceman again who returns to put them on.
I have three other "irritants" in addition to those previously mentioned. First, it does not come with an egg crate or designated space for eggs. Yet, it has a wire rack under an adjustable shelf for 18 canned drinks. Typically American I guess considering our diets and nutritionally related health problems. I can put sugar drinks where I can get to them in a second but I have to improvise for eggs. Solution: Buy an egg crate for your dozen eggs and slip it onto the drink rack. The space next to it on the rack can accommodate a back up dozen eggs or something else that is flat and long that you want out of the way.
The second irritant is that you have to be careful about how you store food near the fan vent at the top of the refrigerator in the back. It can ice up easily if it is blocked. It will also ice up if the room is humid and you don't have the humiidty button in the "on" position or if the temperature is set too high. The humidity button is next to the digital temperature control. The temperature is not conrolled by adjusting the degrees. It is a system that has numbers 1 to 7 with 7 being the coldest. Only thing is that you have to be aware to turn the freezer on first and keep it on to allow the fridge to be cool.
The third item to note is the "manual" that comes with the appliance. It seems that they have become quite superficial over the years compared to the one that I had from the model I had that was purchased in 2001. The label generic would apply since there are references to features for other appliances and model numbers are not used in the written explanations. A blow-up schematic is provided but there is no detail as to how parts can be removed or modified if necessary. They have a toll free number that can be called for help but unfortunately a young person answers whose references seem to be limited too. The result is that if you want to change something, as I wanted to remove the icemaker, then you are on your own using the "let's try this" approach.
There's not a lot that can be said about many other features. It's a basic model that seems to have too much freezer space compared to the fridge space, the temperatures for both areas can be adjusted on a 1-7 scale, and as long as the compressor works then it keeps the items as cold as required.
Overall, despite the negative tone. I am not crazy about this model but neither am I wanting to kick it to the curb...yet. It's a so-so feeling and perhaps I will have an improved acceptance after I take time getting used to it. If this was a report card it would get a C+.
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Amount Paid (US$): 1199
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