An Educated Consumer Can Save You Time and Money

By Josh Zenisek, Grand Appliance and TV

The following are helpful tips for any customer service representative taking a repair call. I have found that reviewing these common customer complaints with my team has helped reduce truck rolls for warranty calls that aren’t covered by the manufacturer, and that can be readily resolved through customer education.

I believe that servicing dealers need to do a better job qualifying calls in order to avoid sending our techs out on jobs that we could have handled over the phone. Have any more over-the-phone fixes to share? Please send them to


Frost in the freezer. This is almost always caused by the customer not closing the door tightly, since the only thing that can cause frost in the freezer is outside air getting inside. In rare cases this is due to a failure of something in the fridge, but more often than not, it’s because a door wasn’t closed tightly. The same is true for moisture in the fridge section.

Water not cold. This is seen more often on Frigidaire units, as they do not have a water reservoir inside, although customers can experience this on any unit, even if it has a reservoir.  Think about it this way: The owner gets a big glass of water and then goes back 20 minutes later for another glassful, but that second round didn’t sit inside the reservoir long enough to get cold. There is no dedicated mechanism that cools water; if the fridge is cold, it’s working as designed.

Food frozen in fridge. This will require you to ask more questions of the customer. Is everything frozen?  If so, they will likely need to set up a call.  If it is just a select few items near the back wall, then it is more likely that they just need to rearrange the products in their fridge.  Remember, most units work by blowing air from the freezer into the fresh food section, and the air coming out of those vents can be zero degrees or below! Customers need to provide proper airflow.

Doors are misaligned or swing open or shut. This is almost always an install issue. The door alignment is done by leveling the unit, and on some units there are height adjustments on the bottom door hinge. The swing of the door is just forced by gravity. The unit must either be leveled backwards or forwards. In either case, this should be a labor ticket if you installed it.

Moisture on the mullion. The mullion is the flap between fridge doors, and there is a heater inside of it that should control moisture. While it is possible that this heater goes out, many units have a humidity control button that needs to be turned on to get the heater going. In units like Samsung refrigerators, there is an energy saver mode.  If this is turned on, it turns that heater off, and moisture can appear.  If the customer complains about this, it is worth it for you to check their owner’s manual to see if there is such a setting.  It may not say it controls the mullion, but there will likely be some version of a humidity control that needs to be turned on or an energy saver mode that needs to be turned off.

Odor. There is nothing in the fridge mechanisms than can produce an odor other than a burning smell from an electrical short.  Any other smell is caused by something the customer placed in the unit, and it can take weeks or even months for the odor to go away once the culprit food item is removed. There is no way to clean the air vents that can trap these odors in them. The best bet is for the customer to clean the unit, try placing an open box of baking soda inside, and wait it out.

Ice tastes bad. Again, there is absolutely nothing in the fridge mechanics that can flavor the ice.  Any bad taste or odor from the ice is either due to the incoming water or the tendency of the ice to absorb flavors and odors from inside the fridge.


Odor. Like refrigerators, dishwashers can’t create an odor on their own. Odors are typically caused by a customer using too much detergent; water that’s insufficiently hot; or the dishes being too clean when they are placed in the unit. Any of these can cause soap scum to build up and become bacteria factories. The customer’s best bet is to run some Affresh dishwasher cleaner through the unit a couple of times and severely cut back on the amount of soap used.

Doesn’t clean well. This can certainly be caused by a failure in the dishwasher, such as the wash pump not spraying or the water valve not letting enough water in. But there are some things to ask first to qualify the call. Going back to some points about odor, it is important that the customer is using the correct settings and soap.  It is also important to have some grease, fat or oil on the dishes. There should not be any solid food present, but the protein from the grease/fat/oil, combined with hot water, is what activates the soap. If the soap isn’t being activated, it doesn’t break down and can’t do its job.  Think of it like yeast that you don’t allow to rise — it’s useless. Also, the unit should be set to the high-temp wash setting and, since the hot water is generated in the house, the customer can even run the hot water faucet near the dishwasher for a few minutes before starting the cleaning cycle.

Doesn’t dry. This is one of the most common complaints with today’s dishwashers.  Truth is, they don’t dry as well as they used to unless you buy one of the highest-end units. There is no longer a vent in many of the other models.  The science behind this is based on the fact that the stainless-steel tub of the dishwasher is a giant heat sink.  It naturally cools much more rapidly than most dishes. This rapid cooling causes steam to condensate on the surface of the steel and drip down, making the dishwasher look wet inside after a cycle.  It also means that things like plastic cups may not dry as well because they don’t hold heat like a ceramic plate would.  One thing the customer can do to help the drying process is to use the sani-rinse cycle or whatever version of that is available on their unit.  The idea is that the dishwasher will heat the water during the rinse cycle and help the evaporative process.  Another thing that should be explained every time is that the customer needs to be using Jet-Dry or some other brand of rinse aid.  It is like Rain-X for your dishes: It helps the water bead up and drip down off them, and also helps reduce spots. Customers can also increase the amount of Jet-Dry used each cycle by turning up the dial next to where they fill it. Usually there are number settings from one to five, with five being the highest.

Next month: Common range and laundry complaints.

Josh Zenisek is the Service Manager for BrandSource member Grand Appliance and TV.

Upcoming Events