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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Don't be left hung out to dry after buying used appliances.(BAYLIFE)(Column).

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How many times have you driven down the highway, seen a row of washers, dryers and refrigerators out in front of a business, and wondered, just how reliable are used appliances?

Karen Rose of Tampa wanted to say goodbye to her apartment complex laundry room, so she took a chance on a used washer-dryer stackable. As it turned out, the dryer didn't work.

"I had four towels in there for 45 minutes and they were still wet," she said.

The washer leaked, too.

The company that sold the unit tried to fix it, but failed to satisfy her.

"I've got a piece of junk here that's worthless to me," she said.

The company, South Tampa Preowned Appliance on South Dale Mabry Highway, says the unit worked fine in the shop. Still, the company cheerfully refunded her money.

"This is what I wanted three weeks ago," she said.

In St. Petersburg, Debbie Butler liked the used refrigerator she bought from B&C Appliances on 32nd Street North, except for the fact that she could see into it when the door was closed. The gasket between the door and the main unit wasn't sealing right. Again, a repair attempt wasn't enough.

"At night, when you come in the kitchen, if the light's off, you see this big old huge light gap," she said.

B&C told us Butler was hard to please, but refunded her money anyway.

"I'm happy; I can smile," she said.

The key to buying used appliances is to get a written guarantee. Tell the company you want a 90-day full warranty. That'll surprise the salesperson, but it's worth a try.

Don't accept a used appliance with less than a 30-day full warranty. And always call the Better Business Bureau - (813) 854-1154 - before selecting a dealer.

Years back, we handled a complaint about a broken washer. The appliance dealer repeatedly promised us he would fix the machine, but instead, he picked up one day and moved to Mobile, Ala., without a word. We learned that he opened an appliance business there.

Using sources we developed in his new neighborhood, we kept up with him. About two years later, he moved back to the Tampa Bay area and set up - you guessed it - another used appliance dealership. You can imagine the look on his face when we just casually walked up to him one day and inquired, "Now, about that washer."

Most used appliance dealers also repair appliances, and you have to be careful in that arena, as well. The most common scams are charging for services that are not needed, or saying something's fixed and collecting a fee, when actually it's not fixed at all.

Again, check with the Better Business Bureau before hiring a repair person. Then, when the technician arrives at your home, pay attention to everything that he or she does, asking lots of questions. Get an estimate before authorizing repairs.

If the bill turns out to be extreme, don't feel you have to pay it. Lots of folks just write a check to get the guy out of the house, then stop payment. Problem is, that's illegal.

It's better to toss him out and get a second opinion, but expect to pay for a service call and diagnostic work.

There are some deals out there on used appliances, and there are some honest service companies. Sometimes you have to do a little homework to find them.

Source Citation:"Don't be left hung out to dry after buying used appliances." The Tampa Tribune (Tampa, FL) (April 19, 1999): 6. Popular Magazines. Gale. BROWARD COUNTY LIBRARY. 18 Oct. 2009
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