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Pasadena, Md. - When your fridge heats up and your washer stops spinning, you want someone to fix it fast. But local customers looking for quick fixes to their appliance problems ended up with no solutions and money down the drain after calling an Anne Arundel county company.
A broken washer forced Baltimore County's Therold Best to do something she hasn't done in decades. She says, "I have not been to the laundromat in over 40 years and here I find myself going to the laundromat."
Best says she had no choice but to outsource her wash when the company she paid to fix her machine put her through the ringer back in December. Best says, "I asked for my money back on numerous occasions and they told me the last time on February 21st they had put the check in the mail and as of today I have not received a check yet."
Best tells ABC2 she has been asking Maryland Appliance Repair for a refund for months. She says she used their service around the holidays when her washer broke. She spotted a full page ad for the company in the phone book and says when the called, a repairman came out, asked for a deposit of several hundred dollars for a part, left and never came back, saying, "After that every day the truck broke down, or it was on back order. Nothing happened. I kept calling and no one would call me back so I called the Better Business Bureau."
And the BBB has heard from a lot of angry customers with kitchen nightmares similar to what Best experienced. CEO Angie Barnett says, "It's very unusual complaint activity, particularly for a smaller client. This is not a normal occurrence."
Barnett indicates the BBB has received more than 70 complaints about Maryland Appliance Repair in the last year. And those complaints have a pattern according to Barnett, with customers claiming they paid upfront for a part and service they never received. The customers indicate they struggled to communicate with the business and didn't get calls back. Barnett says, "People were reporting to the BBB losing as much as $100-200. We even saw some as high as $400-500."
Some customers have received money back, although it took action in some cases from the Maryland Attorney General's Office. The agency has heard similar stories to the BBB. Spokesman Alan Brody says 20 complaints have been logged against Maryland Appliance repair since October.
In some of the cases closed by the Attorney General's staff, customers did get a refund, but not until the company was sent letters and contacted by the agency. We repeatedly emailed and called the owner of Maryland Appliance Repair too, leaving messages and even driving to the Pasadena address listed on their state business license.
Even though the company lists several towns and numbers on their website, the business appears to be run out of one location, a home on Mountain Road. Barnett says their website, which gives the appearance of a larger presence, is something potential customers should research, saying, "It doesn't mean there are multiple locations. It means there are simply different numbers. That's a definite cautionary sign. It's a great marketing strategy."
In Therold Best's situation, the big ad strategy was successful. She says that's what sold her. But in the end she needed a smaller business to fix her busted washer as she waited for a check from the first one she called. Best says, "Do not be fooled by a full page ad. I thought it was reputable, but of course it didn't turn out that way."
David Mansel, who owns Maryland Appliance Repair, told ABC2 on Thursday he'd call to explain his side of the story, but he never did. In an email he says he is working hard to resolve all complaints, give refunds and make his customers happy.
The Better Business Bureau says Maryland Appliance Repair, which has an F-rating, is not a member. The organization says if your appliances break and you're searching for a repair company you should ask friends for referrals first. Once you have a short list of options, call several companies for estimates. If you find a company that seems like a good choice, Barnett says you should never pay more than a third of the cost upfront and always pay with a credit card so you can dispute the charge if there is a problem.
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