Archive for July, 2013

Maryland Appliance Repair Co. Review

July 19, 2013

Updated Nov 27, 2014. See bottom of post for latest info. If you have had a bad experience, you MUST file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Divison of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General.

I am writing this entry in the hope that it will show up on searches for this company and spare others from getting ripped off as I have been.

In early May, my washing machine stopped working. According to the error code, the problem is the main control board. I couldn’t remember the name of the company I used a few years ago to fix my refrigerator so I started looking for someone to call.

One of my co-workers belongs to Angie’s List so we tried searching there but didn’t get any useful results. So, I went to Google and my paper phone book. Maryland Appliance Repair’s website said they are Whirlpool factory authorized so I called them. That was my first mistake. I later learned that they are NOT a Whirlpool authorized repair company.

Maryland Appliance Repair Co. has an F rating from the Better Business Bureau. If the BBB site had shown up on my Google search, I never would have chosen this company. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about checking there.

The most charitable way to describe this company’s actions is to say they are grossly incompetent at conducting their business. They may have conducted business properly in the past but I think it is more appropriate to call their conduct in 2013 unethical and, in some cases, illegal.

I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau against this company around the beginning of June. To make a long story short: the company took money from me for a repair they apparently have no intention of performing. Here is the text of the complaint which details my experiences with this company to 7/19/2013:

Consumer’s Original Complaint :
On or about 5/15
I called them because their website claimed they were Whirlpool certified. No one answered. The voice mail said a technician would call back within 15 minutes. An hour later someone called me. We made an appointment for Saturday, May 18. I was told I didn’t have to stay home because they would call me 30 minutes before they arrived. I told her to use my cell number and not the number she called me on.

5/18
The technician arrived with no notice (they called my work number that I told the woman not to use). Verified that what the error code said was correct. Said they would order the part on Monday, 5/20, and the part should arrive Tuesday or Wednesday and he’d come back on Wednesday evening to install it. He said the new part is improved and I should get 10 years out of it as opposed to the not-quite 4 years I got out of the original part. I believe he told me one amount but wrote a different amount on the invoice. He asked for most of the payment up front, $400. When I attempted to pay by credit card, spun a story about how they were changing card processes, etc. and could I write a check. I did, unfortunately, for $400.

5/22
No one showed up to fix the machine and no one called to cancel.

5/23
I called. No one answered. The voice mailbox was full and I could not leave a message. I kept trying with the same results. Then I tried to find the website to see if there was an email address. The Better Business Bureau report on this company came up in my search this time (searching by the phone number on the invoice). It had not come up when I was searching for appliance repair companies before I called this company. Discovered this company has an F rating and a lot of complaints. Kept calling and finally someone answered. I asked about why no one came or called. Said she call back. Surprisingly, she did. Said the part would arrive on Friday or Saturday morning. Made an appointment for Saturday afternoon.

5/26
No one showed up to fix the machine and no one called to cancel.

5/28
I called and left a message. No one returned my call.

5/29
I called and left a message. No one returned my call. Also sent an email through the form on their website. No respose. Contacted Whirlpool and learned that this company is NOT a Whirlpool certified repair company as claimed on their website.

5/30
Kept calling until someone answered about 1:30. Asked the status of the part. She said she check and call me back. It’s now 3 hours later and no one has called. Tried to call and no one answered. I started calling again and she finally answered around 5:30 pm. She asked the same questions she did earlier. This time put me on hold. Came back and told me her computer is down and she can’t check anything. I told her I didn’t believe her. I suggested she look at the paper invoice. She said the technician has the actual paper. Said she’ll call him to get the model number and check on the part. She never called back.

5/31
I called around 9:30 AM and left the following message:

[My name, address and phone number]

Today is May 31st. You were supposed to order a main control board for
my Whirlpool Duet Steam washing machine on 5/20.

That didn’t happen. On 5/23 you told me the part
would be in on Friday or Saturday. I’ve
been trying to find out ever since then the status of
the part.

You’ve promised to call me back with
the information several times but you haven’t done that.

I want to know if you’ve ordered the part.
If so, when was it ordered? Do you have the part?

If you haven’t ordered it, why haven’t you?

If you don’t contact me with answers to my
questions TODAY, the only conclusion I can draw is
that you have no intention of making the repair.
I will be forced to take legal action against
your company.

5/30
Haven’t heard from anyone. Sent letter requesting a full refund by certified check.

Consumer’s Desired Resolution:
I want a full refund by certified check because they falsely claimed to be Whirlpool certified.

BBB Processing

06/10/2013   web BBB Case Received by BBB
06/10/2013    BBB MORE INFO RECEIVED FROM THE CONSUMER : I sent the refund request on 6/6, not 5/30 as stated in the full complaint description.
06/11/2013   HL BBB Case Reviewed by BBB
06/11/2013   Otto EMAIL Send Acknowledgement to Consumer
06/11/2013   Otto EMAIL Notify Business of Dispute
06/24/2013   OttO BBB No Response Received from Business on 1st Notice
06/26/2013   AR BBB PHONE COMPANY AFTER NO RESPONSE FROM 1ST NOTICE : AR 6/26/13 – LM & re-sent the complaint by email & fax
07/02/2013   OttO BBB No Response Received from Business on 1st Notice
07/02/2013   AR MAIL FINAL NOTICE TO COMPANY- VIA MAIL/FAX : AR 7/2/13 – Sent by email, fax & mail
07/08/2013   WEB BBB RECEIVE BUSINESS RESPONSE : PLEASE CALL ME ASAP  443-977-0573 SO I CAN HEKP YOU MY NAME IS DAVE
07/08/2013   AR EMAIL Forward Business response to Consumer
07/09/2013   WEB BBB BBB REVIEWS CONSUMER REBUTTAL TO BUSINESS RESPONSE : (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
I attempted to call the number specified in their reponse, 443-977-0573, around 10 a.m. on 7/9. I got a voice mail saying that the mailbox for 410-948-0282 was full.
If they want to talk to me, why don’t they just call me?
I want a full refund of what I paid.
07/12/2013   HL BBB Manually Forward Consumer Rebuttal to Business
07/12/2013   HL BBB RECEIVED BUSINESS’ REBUTTAL RESPONSE : PLEASE CALL ME I WANT TO TRY TO HELP YOU I HAVE NEW OFFICE MANGER NOW AND SHE IS TRYING TO CLEAN THE MESS THAT LYNN MADE 443-977-0573
07/12/2013   HL EMAIL Send Business’ Rebuttal Response to Consumer
07/17/2013   WEB BBB CONSUMER REJECTS BUSINESS’ FINAL OFFER : (The consumer indicated he/she DID NOT accept the response from the business.)
On 7/15 at 3:40 pm I called the number he gave. As usual, no one answered. I left a message saying I was calling for Dave at his request and left my name and number. As usual, no one returned the call.
He says he wants to talk to me but his actions say otherwise. He refuses to call me. It’s impossible to contact him. Phone calls go unanswered and there was no response to contact using the form on the website. In early June I sent him a letter via certified mail. He chose not to sign for it.
In the letter I asked for a full refund of $400 by CERTIFIED check. I said what I would do if I didn’t receive the refund. The first action was filing this complaint with the BBB.

I will now be filing a fraud complaint with the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs. The reason I called this company was the statement on the website that they were Whirlpool factory authorized. I later learned that is a false statement. They have made false claims and took money for services that were not performed. I believe this is a violation of Section 17.403 of the Howard County Code which states that it is unlawful for any merchant to engage in a deceptive or unfair trade practice with respect to any consumer.

The BBB has closed the complaint with a negative disposition.

The following websites have been associated with this business:
http://marylandapplianceservice.com/ – The one I used.
www.appliancerepairguys.net/
http://www.marylandappliancerepair.com/   (This website no longer exists.)
The following phone numbers have been associated with this business. Some I got from their website, some from the phone book and some from the BBB report:
410-997-3777 – the number I called
410-255-09222 – they called me from this number once
443-977-0573 – the number the owner gave in response to my BBB complaint
(410) 788-4357
(410) 788-8838
(410) 788-0085
(410) 360-0466
(410) 255-1176
(410) 451-4933
410-788-6355
410-987-4345
410-761-0433
301-774-7764
1-888-298-3105

I will update this blog entry as additional events occur.

Updated 8/19/2013:
I mailed my complaint off to the Howard County Office of Consumer Affairs on Friday, 8/16/2013.

I learned that WBAL did a piece on this company in March 2013.

Updated 8/24/2013:

I received a letter today from the county. They transferred my complaint to the Maryland Office of the Attorney General in Baltimore.

Updated 9/3/2013:

I found an article by WMAR.

Updated 9/17/2013:

I received a call from Patrick McCormally from the Maryland Office of the Attorney General this morning. Charges have been filed against David Mansell. The hearing is scheduled for December 10-11.

Maryland AG announces lawsuit against appliance repair company.

I just discovered that David Mansel is also doing business under the name In Home Appliance Repair.

Updated 11/27/2014:

In December of 2013 I testified in the administrative hearing against David Lee Mansel, Jr. I couldn’t write about it at the time because the hearing was continued to a later date because court was cancelled due to weather. We were not to discuss our testimony with other witnesses.

The day before the original hearing date I received a refund of the money I paid him. He lawyered up for the hearing. His mother was present but stayed in the hallway where the witnesses waited. After each witness came out after testifying, she apologized to them for her son’s actions. By the time I came out, she was reduced to tears. I suspect she put up the money for the refunds. I felt sorry for her.

I received a letter dated November 7, 2014, from Patrick Henry McCormally, the Assistant Attorney General handling the case. The letter contained information about the Final Decision on the case.

Excerpts from Mr. McCormally’s letter:

“The Division recently issued a Final Decision finding that Mr. Mansel repeatedly violated the Consumer Protection Act, and requiring him to pay restitution to consumers and a civil penalty of $166,000.”

 

“The Final Order requires Mr. Mansel to return all amounts he took from any consumer for appliance repairs he did not complete and for all heating or air conditioning services he sold. … Collecting all or a part of this amound is likely to be very difficult and may not be possible.”

“The Final Order requires Mr. Mansel to cease providing appliance repair services until he posts a bond of $25,000 for the protection of future consumers and ceases his unfair and deceptive trade practices.”

If you have had an unsatisfactory experience with Mr. Mansel after the date of the final order, it is very important that you file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Maryland Office of the Attorney General. If they receive a sufficient number of complaints that he is violating the order, the state will take further action against him. The only way the state will know that he is violating the order is if people file complaints with the state.

Stitching History: Recreating the Star Spangled Banner

July 8, 2013

Two hundred years ago Mary Pickersgill and 5 others sewed for 6 weeks to create the 30 x 42 feet flag known as The Star Spangled Banner. This is the flag that was flown over Fort McHenry on the morning of September 14, 1813 after the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore and inspired Francis Scott Key to write the the poem “Defence of Fort McHenry” which was later retitled to “The Star Spangled Banner” and became the national anthem of the United States of America.

The Maryland Historical Society is recreating the flag during the same 6 week period beginning July 4, 2013. The recreated flag will be flown at Fort McHenry on Defender’s Day, September 14, 2013.

This morning at Mimi Dietrich’s grad school class we basted the 15 stars to prepare them to be appliqued to the blue field. Each star is 2 feet wide from point to point.

There is a kickstarter campaign to raise the money needed to pay for the flag’s recreation. The goal is $10,000 by July 31, 2013.

Read about the project at the Maryland Historical Society.

The original flag is at the Smithsonian.

Read about the history of the flag and its creation at Wikipedia.