September 8, 2017

Water Heater Nightmare

The purchase of a water heater is a big investment. Not only for your home but for your family. Spending anywhere in the range of $400 to $800, even up to $2000, for a round metal tank to hold water is a challenge and investment most of us do not want to have to make. But when you have no choice but to make that large type of home investment, you trust that there will be a warranty or guarantee on that purchase.

Most products you purchase do have a guarantee that the product is free of defects and will work for a set amount of time or years. Most of these purchases also come with a warranty that is in effect for anywhere from 3 to 8 years.

In most states there is also a warranty that alot of residents don't know about. Its called the Implied Warranty of Guarantee. This is a guideline set in each state of how long a certain product, purchased in your state, is expected to last. The range of these guidelines depends on the purchased product.

Recently a consumer, we shall call Mr. M, found the need to replace his homes water heater. This is a natural part of home ownership however in Mr. M's case, the water heater he needed to replace was less than 4 years old and had only been installed in his home just under three years ago. In this case, the warranty from the original purchase was needed to cover the replacement. Since Mr. M had believed in the product he had purchased, he began the investigation into why the water heater had failed. Through search and discovery, he and his trusted investigator, discovered it was due to a failed part. This discovery led to Mr. M's beginning of a nightmare trip with the maker of the defected water heater and their customer service. This company not only has a horrid way of dealing with customer issues, but in honoring the warranty and guarantee on their products.

Beginning two days after the failure, Mr. M. contacted the companies Customer Service Department on several occasions. Not once did the company state to Mr. M that the warranty information and the guarantee information, which included the claim form, could be located online. Nor did they mention that the information located on the defective heater was needed. Mr M was also informed that he needed a receipt with a detailed purchase on it. The statement from the credit card company he used to make the original purchase was not going to be accepted. For two weeks Mr M kept contacting and researching. Finally discouraged, he purchased a new water heater. During the installation of the new water heater, he and the installer discovered a shocking thing. The new heater was manufactured and marketed under two different names. The manufacturer was the same as the deceased water heater but marketed under the name of a very reputable company.

Mr M, then contacted a reporter and asked her to do research as he was very discouraged. The reporter discovered several things in her research. Having called and spoken to several representatives of both brands and not getting replies, the reporter discovered the following:

-Whirlpool has a Brands We Love page.  American Water Heater, is not listed on that page. Even though the newly purchased water heater was purchased under the premise of being a Whirlpool, the warranty and paperwork inside the box states American Water Heater. The warranty registration card also states, as you can see on the bottom, Whirlpool Water Heaters.

-No where on either companies websites, is the other companies logo located or the company mentioned.

-American Water Heaters (aka U.S. Craftmaster, etc.) produces water heaters for Whirlpool which are then sold through Lowes.

  Canadian water heater manufacturer GSW Inc. purchased American Water Heater Co. in early April from Southcorp Ltd., an Australian winemaker that now has divested all its holdings in water heater companies. In December 2001, Southcorp sold its Australian and Asian water heater businesses, which included the Rheem brand, to Japan-based Paloma Industries, which owns the rights to the Rheem name elsewhere.

  A.O. Smith Corp. on April 3 completed its acquisition of GSW Inc., a Canadian-based manufacturer of water heaters and building products, with 2005 sales of $520 million (U.S.). It was acquired for $340 million in cash.

GSW is the parent company of American Water Heater, Johnson City, Tenn., which it purchased in 2002. American Water Heater also sells water heaters under the names American PROLine and U.S. Craftmaster.

GSW sells electric, gas, propane and oil-fired products to customers in the wholesale, retail and energy services channels across Canada, under the GSW and John Wood brand names.

 Whirlpool/American/A.O. Smith

Complaints and stories:




Not Better Business Bureau Accreditted

Here is some more information for you on consumer purchasing that you may find helpful if you ever need it.

Implied Warranty of Merchantability

Just about every consumer product purchase comes with an implied warranty of merchantability, which means it is guaranteed to work if used for its intended purpose. If you buy a blender that simply doesn't work, then you have the right to take it back for an exchange or a refund. This also applies to used items, with the extra disclaimer that it will work as intended, given its condition at the time of resale.

Implied Warranty of Fitness

Some purchases come with what is called an implied warranty of fitness. This means that a product is guaranteed for a specific purpose, beyond the lower threshold of merchantability. So if you asked a salesperson to recommend a blender specifically for making frozen cocktails, but the one that's recommended turns out to not have enough power to crush ice cubes, then you may return the item under its implied warranty of fitness.
That means sales of consumer goods that work perfectly fine, just not for the customer's planned and stated use, may breach an implied warranty of fitness. The warranty usually is implied through the salesperson's assurance or recommendation of an item for a specific purpose.

Items Sold 'As Is'

Retailers sometimes mark items with the words "sold as is" or "with all faults" in an effort to disclaim an implied warranty, but this is not allowed in the following states:

New Hampshire
West Virginia
District of Columbia

Since implied warranties are by definition unwritten, they are not covered by federal law (which covers ALL written and verbal warranties). However, most state laws require 4 years of coverage under an implied warranty. Some states only require implied warranties to last as long as any express warranty that also came with the purchase.
Other states limit the ability of merchants to disclaim an implied warranty, including Maryland. Disclaimers such as "sold as is" have no legal bearing on transactions in the state, which means customers may always return items that meet the criteria of "merchantability."
The base of this article, Mr M's story, is currently still open and no resolution has been aquired. Consumer Law provided information for this article.

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