Note from Dan: Back on June 16, I bought a Haier America portable room air conditioner at hhgregg. Two key exhaust-system parts were broken when I unpacked the box at home. After weeks of calling the company’s customer service reps without result, on Aug. 24 I finally sent a letter (below) to the two people I found listed as company president, detailing my misadventures with Haier America’s customer-service department. Everything in the letter is true, except: the Buddhist prayer bits, addressing the company officials “Dr.” and my hammed-up excitement at the prospect of a cool basement. Those were goofs that I entertained myself with as I wrote the letter.
I would urge you, strongly, to not make the mistake I made when I found broken parts while unpacking the Haier America box. DO NOT call the company — NOTHING but frustration is likely to come from your dealings with Haier America’s customer help line. Instead, hustle that unit back to the retailer where you bought it and demand a refund or a replacement. If you opt for the latter open the replacement at the store. Fyi, I’m far from the only customer with gripes about Haier America. Here are links to more: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. No. 2 is a Facebook page created by dissatisfied Haier customers. No. 10 is 55 separate horror stories of Haier’s products and service.
Also, make sure you read to the end, for the account of the calls Haier America made to me in response to this letter.
Aug. 23, 2013
Shariff Kan, President of Haier America
Michael Jamel, President of Haier America Trading LLC
1356 Broadway Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10018
Dear Drs. Kan and Jamel,
Greetings! I hope this letter finds you in good health and spiritual harmony. I am writing you about a problem I have had with a Haier America product. First, please accept my apologies for taking up your valuable time. You are both learned and powerful executives of a company with a prestigious address in New York City. I am a simple person, who lives in a simple brick foursquare house on a simple street in Roanoke, Virginia, which is a simple town. I would not be bothering you, except I do not know where else to turn. I hope you can help me.
Our house is a small one, circa 1920. It has 1,834 square feet, excluding the basement. Alas, it does not have central air conditioning. So in the summer we Caseys make do with some simple AC window units. Except in our partially finished basement, which is our simple family room. That is where the TV is. The windows down there are too small for a normal window AC unit. Usually in the summer we simply don’t go down there.
This past spring, I thought I had discovered a solution, after I saw a newspaper ad from hhgregg, a large consumer electronics retailer. Even though Roanoke is a simple town, it has an hhgregg store.
The ad was for a portable room air conditioner, which can be used with small windows, manufactured by Haier America. So on June 16, 2013, I measured my windows and went to hhgregg. After I ascertained that the unit in question could work in my basement, I purchased Haier America model No. HPN12XHM, which is a 12,000 BTU portable air conditioner that will also provide heat, if desired. The cost was $349.99. Including tax, I paid $367.49. The receipt is enclosed.
I drove home excitedly. Finally, my family would have cool air in our basement! I was going to surprise my wife and 4 children. I cannot tell you how overjoyed I felt, that Haier America had manufactured a product that would allow us to cool our basement family room in the hot summer!
The joy turned to mild dismay when I unpacked the Haier America unit from the box. Alas, two of the plastic exhaust-system parts for my portable room air conditioner were broken. Drat! I thought. But I am ever the optimist. So I consulted my Haier America portable room air conditioner users’ manual.
If there is a problem, DO NOT RETURN PRODUCT TO THE STORE it says. Instead, consumers should call the Haier America consumer help line, at 877-337-3639. So that is exactly what I did.
I was connected to a very helpful young man. His name was Dan (#73017). I explained the problem: Upon unpacking the box, I found two broken parts inside. One was a window panel. The other was a broken exhaust host connector. Note: The exhaust hose was in fine shape. But the coupler that connects the hose to the back of the Haier America portable room air conditioner was broken. The result was, I could not properly connect the hose to the back of the unit.
I’m sure you understand the issue this creates. As the front of the Haier America portable room air conditioner blows out cool air, the back of the unit gushes hot air. In practical terms, this makes the air conditioner unusable.
Dan (#73017) seemed to understand the problem precisely. In a friendly and helpful manner, he told me he would order replacements for the two broken parts and have them shipped to me as soon as possible. But first I had to fax Haier America my purchase receipt at 917-536-9763, he said. He also gave me a reference number: 84904. This seemed reasonable and satisfactory. Stuff happens, you know? And above all, I am a patient person.
So I thanked Dan (#73017) and hung up the telephone. The next day from work, I faxed the receipt to the aforementioned fax number, and said a short Buddhist prayer for Haier America’s busy workers. Then I put the receipt, on which I had jotted notes from Dan (#73017), into my calendar for three weeks later.
The three weeks came — but no parts from Haier America did. So I said another prayer for all of your company’s busy-as-bees workers. And then I called again. This would have been July 7 or 8.
My apologies, but I failed to note the name of the young gentleman I spoke to on the second occasion. He looked up my case based on my reference number, 84904. Haier America had received the receipt and had logged my complaint, he informed me. He sounded rather flummoxed. There had been some kind of unforeseen hangup with mailing me the parts, he explained. He apologized profusely. He promised they would be shipped within 3 days. He gave me another reference number: 105883. Again, I figured the problem was resolved. But just in case, I took my receipt and placed it in my calendar for three weeks later.
Three more weeks came — still no parts from Haier America. So I called 877-337-3639 again, on July 29. On this occasion I was connected to a woman named Katie (my apologies, I did not request her number). I explained the problem, and how I had been waiting 6 weeks for parts, and how badly I wished for my basement to be cooled, so that my family could enjoy that space during the hot summer.
Katie informed me: “Sir, there are no parts!”
“But wait,” I said, with a certain measure of unhappy surprise. “Dan (#73017) informed me they would be ordered and shipped to me. And then three weeks later, another fine Haier America customer service gentleman promised me they would be shipped within three days. Both of them gave me reference numbers. But the parts never came.”
“Sir, there are no parts!” Katie repeated. She sounded like a robot. It was very curious, as I’m sure you can understand. But I appreciated Katie’s blunt demeanor. She doesn’t beat around the bush, so to speak, and you have to admire that. But surely Katie was mistaken, I thought. So I asked to talk to her supervisor. Katie said “OK,” but informed me the customer service supervisors at Haier America are very busy, so I would have to wait on hold.
“No problem!” I said optimistically. I stayed on hold for 30 minutes. Please accept my apologies for not waiting any longer. I hope this did not throw a wrench into Haier Ameirca’s vast customer service operation. But I had to get to work. Before I hung up, I said another simple Buddhist prayer. Then I went to my job.
The next day, on July 29, I called 877-337-3639 again, at 10:35 a.m. This time I spoke to a woman who said her name was Christy. Again I failed to get her employee ID number — my apologies. I asked for a supervisor. Christy put me on hold for 20 minutes. Alas, again I had to go to work. So I said another prayer, hung up, and drove to my job.
On the way there, I thought: “Perhaps in three more weeks time the good employees of Haier America will have found my parts and mailed them to me. That way, at the least, my family will be able to enjoy our basement family room for part of the summer.” That is optimism, and that’s what I’m all about. I also I said another prayer.
Unfortunately, as of the date above no parts from Haier America have arrived at our simple home, on our simple street, in the simple town of Roanoke, Virginia. And frankly I am beginning to feel like a simpleton. A simpleton who has been taken advantage of by a company that couldn’t care less about its customers, as evidenced by the fact that its customer complaint reference numbers increased by more than 30,000 (wow!) in barely three weeks time. Given all of the above, I am sure you can understand this concern.
Upon deeper reflection, and studying my notes, here is what I find most interesting: hhgregg allows customers to return items, no questions asked, within 30 days of purchase. My first two calls to Haier America customer service were during that 30-day window. Dan (#73017) and the second young gentlemen I spoke to were friendly and helpful and they made sincere-sounding promises that led me to believe the matter would be quickly resolved.
But after 30-day period was over, the attitude of the Haier America customer service markedly changed to cold and impersonal. Could that be because the company no longer had any concerns I could return the item to hhgregg, which could back-charge Haier America for the defective product? I don’t know the answer to that question. What I do know is that all of a sudden, after that 30-day return window had expired, both Katie’s and Christy’s demeanor was blunt and unhelpful. It seemed as if they felt they could place me on hold for forever. Perhaps that was a coincidence.
Drs. Kan and Jamel, I’m sure it is not your intention to make Haier America purchasers feel like fools and victims. Perhaps there is some kind of institutional, customer-service sickness rampant in the lower echelons of your fine company, of which you are unaware, that leaves customers feeling that way.
Anyway, I would ask you this — and the question is sincere: Shall I simply suck up the $367.49 I paid for one of your so-far-useless portable room air conditioners, and go buy another unit, of another brand, while I count my blessings that that’s all Haier America has clipped me for?
Or will one of you make good on Haier America’s employees’ early promises to ship me replacements for the broken parts I found in the carton on the day I unpacked your new but so-far-useless machine?
That is all I’m asking for. I patiently await your reply.
Through an acquaintance who works for the Better Business Bureau, I understand that Haier America is currently dealing with scores of similar complaints from customers who have bought appliances from the company. And that because recently the company is actually making efforts to respond, the BBB has temporarily removed Haier America’s “F” rating while you work through those issues.
So I’ll give you three weeks to reach me, at the email address or the phone number below.
In closing, I again wish both of you good health and spiritual harmony. But keep in mind that the clock is ticking. I hope to hear from you soon.
2nd note from Dan: On Sept. 4, a guy named “Jeff” who identified himself as the director of customer service for Haier America called me. He declined to give me his last name “for security reasons.” Jeff apologized profusely and said what had happened to me should never have happened. He blamed it on confusion on exactly which parts I needed. That seemed odd, as I went through the parts in detail with “Dan,” the customer service rep on the first call. We were both looking at the same users manual as I identified them to him. Anyway, Jeff told me that one part was in stock and would be overnighted to me immediately. It arrived undamaged on Sept. 5, and Jeff called Sept. 6 to make sure it got there. The other part would be overnighted to me as soon as it arrived in stock, which should be 5 days.