A Chilling Experience

 A Chilling Experience

BY SAM SUNG

I know it wasn’t personal. It couldn’t be. After all, it was just a machine. My expectation of a cold beer at the end of a hot day in San Jose was not only reasonable, but it was also pressing. With laser focus, I headed for the fridge to satisfy the urge, but alas it was not to be. The beer wasn’t cold, at least not as cold as it should have been. I immediately became suspicious my trusted fridge was packing it in. I knew the symptoms as 2 years earlier my fridge in Canada was the only thing not chilly on Christmas morning. I wasn’t expecting a cold beer that day, but realized how dependent I was on a working fridge with 8 guests coming for dinner.

Since our fridge in Mexico had served us well for years, we knew it was that time and didn’t hesitate to pile into the car the next morning to find a new one. Now, being Canadian and married, you’ll appreciate we couldn’t just go to the nearest store and get the first comparable fridge. We had to go everywhere that sells fridges and look at every one. We started in San Jose at Walmart, then Comer, then Chedraui, and then headed to San Lucas to check Home Depot, with Costco planned as the last stop. I won’t bore you with the details but it was no surprise that Costco seemed to have the best deal. Lucky me. There was a beauty on sale marked down from 36,000 pesos to 26,000. It was a Samsung which is a good Korean brand, for TVs anyway, right? It was made in Mexico with a 10-year compressor warranty. Easy decision. I’m sold. The floor guy makes a few calls and in short order, a truck with 2 guys shows up out front; we negotiate a price of 1600 pesos to bring the new fridge to our casa up the East Cape Road and take the old one away. Everyone is happy.

Fast forward 18 months to November of this year when we arrived for 5 months of escape from another Canadian winter. I open the fridge to get a cold beer and it’s running but not cold. In fact, it’s warmer in the fridge than the 30C it is in the kitchen. Crap. This is not what I had hoped. We’ve been down this road before, only not with a newer fridge.

We get out the manual, the warranty and the original receipt and wait for Monday to arrange for a service guy to come check it out. He can’t come until Thursday but at least he’s coming, so it’s off to the store to get some supplies and a couple of bags of ice for the cooler to tide us over.

The repair guy comes as scheduled and after about a half hour he says the compressor is shot. It can be fixed for 7000 pesos but it’ll take 3 weeks to get the parts. Ok. We have the warranty. We’re saved! The next day we asked our property manager to help with contacting Samsung Mexico and submitting the Spanish paperwork. After a few calls with no responses, she finally gets through only to find out that a Samsung authorized service rep needs to come see the fridge and there is only one rep for all of Cabo. We then contact the rep and are told we have to wait for a call back when they can set up an appointment and regardless of the prior diagnosis, it would be the rep who determines if the repair qualifies as a warranty claim. We’d also need to pay for his diagnosis even if it qualified for a warranty claim, although with power surges caused by the latest tropical storm, it was suggested that all warranty claims were being challenged.

After chatting with a few neighbors, we decide to take a trip back to Costco while waiting for the Samsung rep appointment. We bring the paperwork and end up talking to the manager and posing the fateful question: “Can we just bring the less-than-18-month-old fridge back and get another one?” She smiles and says, “Yes.” Yes! We head over to the fridges, which are mostly Samsung and LG and – oh look – they have suitable LG on a Buen Fin sale for 20% off if purchased today. Done deal. The manager also suggests that rather than relying on the manufacturer’s warranty we buy a 4-year full-service Costco warranty that covers service calls as well as parts. That’s some good advice we didn’t get the first time. We arranged to return in 2 days to get the new fridge delivered and the defunct Samsung product returned to Costco. This entails me driving 45 minutes to Costco, making sure there are two strong guys with the truck and then leading the guys to the house, unloading the new fridge, loading the old fridge and driving back to Costco to return it and get my refund, before driving back home again to hopefully end up with a cold beer when I get there. Happily, that’s the way it played out. 

So, it’s now December 31, basically 6 weeks after contacting the Samsung service rep and not a peep from him. We decided not to let them know we already returned the fridge, mostly to see how long the manufacturer’s warranty claim approval process would take. We’re guessing we may never hear back.

In the end, between the prices of the fridges and all the delivery charges, it turned out to be a financial wash and we have a new LG fridge and comprehensive Costco warranty. Lessons learned from this one: no more Samsung for me; beware of Mexican warranties as they may not be what you would expect; and, finally, dealing with Costco was the customer service experience we hoped it would be. We’re going straight back there for a new stove in the new year, with the 4-year Costco warranty!