Appliantology Newsletter
Online Appliance Parts Ripoffs and Scams
  March 2013
Presents another award-winning issue of...
Online Appliance Parts Ripoffs and Scams
Buying appliance parts online can be very convenient, but there are some traps out there to watch out for.  You may have heard the saying, "buyer beware," and this is never more true than when buying appliance parts online.  I have personally seen retailers on Amazon and Ebay offering what they claimed were genuine Whirlpool or GE parts at hugely discounted prices, but they were actually shipping junk Chinese knock-offs.  This is fraud, plain n' simple.
 
Why does it matter if they're genuine OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts or generic knock-offs?  Two reasons: 1) durability and 2) proper function of the part.  Let me tell you a personal story of temptation and redemption.
My Personal Experience Getting Scammed
I do real-life service calls in my local area as The Appliance Guru.  A while back, I needed to buy lid switches for a Whirlpool top loading washer for stock on The Guru Mobile.  I happened to see them online from a retailer selling through Amazon at an amazingly low price.  I was suspicious because the price was so low, but the write-up at Amazon said the parts were genuine Whirlpool lid switches.  So, rather than use my normal suppliers, I succumbed to the lure of cheap prices and bought two. 
 
When the switches arrived, they were wrapped in plain plastic bags without the "FSP" logo that Whirlpool puts on all packaging for its parts (FSP stands for Factory Specification Parts and is Whirlpool's official OEM parts brand).  Now, I've bought lots and lots of parts in my decades of doing appliance repair and I've always bought OEM parts for my service business.  I thought this packaging was odd but shrugged it off thinking maybe this was how the company could offer the parts so cheaply; maybe they bought them in bulk directly from Whirlpool and then repackaged them in plain plastic bags.  Heck, they looked just like the real thing and, after all, it said right on Amazon's site that they were genuine Whirlpool parts, so it must be true, right? ;)
 
Not long after I bought those switches, I had the occasion to use one on a service call.  I installed the lid switch and got the washer spinning again, so far so good.  Fortunately, I always check my work. 
 
That lid switch is a safety device that's supposed to stop the washer from spinning when the lid is raised.  I opened the lid and that tub kept spinning like my head after a couple bottles of cheap rice wine.  And this was in a household with kids.  Can you say, "nasty lawsuit with no viable defense?" 
 
I removed the lid switch I had just installed and took it out to The Guru Mobile where I had a genuine FSP lid switch.  In comparing them closely, I noticed the fake switch had some plastic mold flashing left on a mounting edge that made it mount at a tilt so that the switch was always in the closed (spin-enabled) position, regardless of whether the lid was open or not.  The genuine FSP switch had no such manufacturing defect.  I installed the genuine FSP switch and the machine worked perfectly.  
 
I have heard from other professional Appliantologist Brethren in The Craft as well as DIYers who were similarly burned by parts being fraudulently sold as genuine OEM parts by third party sellers on places like Ebay and Amazon.  In almost all cases, the parts would either not function properly or would break after a short period of time (days to weeks). 
 
So, if even professional Appliantologists, who buy parts all the time, can get fooled into buying generic knock-off parts online, how's a hapless DIYer, who only buys parts once in a great while, supposed to know?  Fear not, dear reader, for the Samurai shall explain how to avoid this trap.  After all, if you are going to expend your precious blood, sweat, and tears to repair your appliance, you don’t want to sacrifice performance, longevity, or safety just to save a few measly beans on the part.  That’s called being penny wise and part foolish!
How to Safely Buy Genuine OEM Appliance Parts Online
1.  Only buy appliance parts through one of my websites.

 
If you use the conspicuous parts search boxes or parts links at any of my websites, The Appliantology Academy, Fixitnow.com, and The Appliance Guru, you will only be buying OEM parts.  Guaranteed!  How do I know?  Because the parts search boxes and links on my sites take you to our online parts partner, RepairClinc.  I have personally visited the RepairClinic facility, met with their excellent management team, and toured their impressive warehouse facility.  They only sell OEM parts with a 365-day, no-hassle return policy.  
 
This is why the Samurai has an affiliate relationship with RepairClinic. It means when you use the parts search box or parts links at any of my websites, not only do you get OEM parts from a reputable company, but also a small percentage of your purchase comes back and helps support our sites and the work we do without costing you one penny more.  It’s all good!
 
 
2.  OEM parts are always, always, always shipped in a logo-branded bag or box.
 
Remember how in the story I thought the parts seller may have bought the parts in bulk and re-packaged them?  Well, I'm sure he did buy them in bulk but from some knock-off factory in Shanghai, not from from the original manufacturer of the appliance.  OEM parts will always be packaged inside a bag or box that has a trademarked logo on it (e.g., GE (includes Hotpoint), Electrolux (includes Frigidaire, Gibson, and a few other brands), FSP (for Whirlpool-Maytag-Kitchenaid-Jenn-Air parts), etc.).  This is your assurance that the part is OEM and not a generic knock-off.  If you ever receive a part that you thought was OEM but is NOT in a logo-branded bag or box, get your money back!  
Check out our YouTube Channel makeover
We're sporting a spiffy new look at the Samurai's YouTube Channel.  I'm trying for a cleaner look that opens up more of our ever-increasing content.  Check it out, I'd love to know what you think.  
 
I'm always posting my latest repair adventures at my YouTube channel.  I shoot almost all the videos myself while in customers’ homes during actual, real-life appliance service calls in my appliance repair business, The Appliance Guru.  So they're sometimes rough or unpolished-looking, but always adventurous and informative!  Please subscribe to our channel to keep up with the latest uploads.
 
Lots of Repair Help at the Appliantology Academy!
We also have loads of appliance repair help at The Samurai Appliance Repair Academy  for both DIYers and fellow appliance techs.  Check out our Apprenticeship programs for DIYers (including our new free option!).  
 
If you're a professional Appliantologist (fix appliances for a living), then check out our free Master Appliantologist program
 
 
 

Samurai Appliance Repair Man, www.Appliantology.org

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