My GE range story

I had purchased a GE freestanding range from a local retailer about 6 years ago, and it had some electrical problems in August. I contacted GE Appliances via Twitter direct message to ask if they could be of any assistance. I was given an e-mail address to use, and I wrote a polite and fairly objective description of the problem and how GE's ranges are usually very good.

I didn't demand money or repairs, I just let them know what had happened and asked if there was any way they could help. We knew it was way out of warranty, and our service plan had expired a few years prior, so they were certainly not obligated to do anything, nor did I go in expecting any particular outcome. But, you never know if you don't ask.

Kim was my liaison through the process and, in about a week or so with their research department's involvement, she informed me that they could offer repairs with parts and the trip charge covered (but we'd still be responsible for labor) or we could accept a $200 Good Will Certificate toward the future purchase of GE parts or products.

We decided to accept their $200 certificate, and we're very appreciative of GE's generosity and helpfulness throughout the ordeal. While we didn't replace our old GE range with a new one (the features we wanted would have been out of our comfort zone even with the certificate), we'll be sure to put their offering to good use. Thank you very much, GE, for being willing to do much more than you were required to do!

Now, my experience may vary from someone else's. I offer the following bits of advice when/if you decide you need to ask for assistance from a company, whether large or small:
  1. BE POLITE! This isn't a grudge match. Nobody intended for something bad to happen. Sometimes, stuff breaks. If it's out of warranty and you have no form of service agreement on the product, it's technically entirely your responsibility, and nobody is obligated to give you anything, nor are you entitled to anything. The CAPS LOCK key is nobody's friend. It's the text equivalent of yelling, and it's difficult to read. Besides, you're not really writing to a company; you're writing to a person. A human being is on the other end, and ruining their day with lots of insults and threats certainly doesn't put anybody into a helpful frame of mind.
  2. BE CLEAR! It's easy to get off on tangents when you've had something unfortunate occur. Resist the temptation to talk about everything going on in your life, and restrict your message to the topic at hand. We all have lots of things going on in our lives, but almost all of it is irrelevant as it relates to whatever you're writing for help with. Also, be sure to proofread for grammar and spelling. It's understood that not everybody knows how to spell everything, but almost every word processing software, and most e-mail systems, have a spell-check and many have grammar-checks, too. Use them! The easier it is to read, the simpler it will be for the person on the other end to help you.
  3. BE CONCISE! Say who you are, where/from whom you bought the item, when you bought the item, mention if there's any way you use the item that is out of the ordinary, and describe the issue you're experiencing with as much detail as possible. Pictures, if applicable, are also helpful. Take pictures with at least a decent digital camera, and make sure it's well-lit and in focus.
  4. BE PATIENT! We all want everything now, Now, NOW! But, is that realistic? Not usually. If you e-mail a major corporation like GE, I wouldn't expect an overnight turnaround. There are processes that they must follow, and they can't bypass these processes just because you're antsy. 1-2 weeks is a reasonable turnaround time for a major corporation to deliver a final resolution. I do recommend checking in at the 1 week mark if there hasn't been any further correspondence after the initial contact, and at the 2 week mark as well. Beyond that, I'd play it by ear, depending upon the progress that's being made. I wouldn't expect hourly or daily updates of the progress. Often, the person you're speaking with won't be involved in every step of the process, so bugging them constantly won't make things go any faster, and won't endear you to them. And, again, be polite when checking in.
  5. BE OPEN! Don't tell them what must happen by what day or else. Don't make a bunch of threats about how you're going to bad-mouth them all over the place if they don't acquiesce to your demands. Nobody responds well to that kind of behavior, whether in person or in writing. Find out what the company's resolution offer is, if any. If there is none, there's no harm in asking for what you think is reasonable. The worst that happens is they say no. However, if you go in guns-a-blazin', you're setting yourself up for disappointment, because your expectations will be too high, and anything they offer short of that will seem too low. Maybe what they're offering is actually far greater than what is reasonable, but if you're too busy demanding the moon, you may end up refusing a perfectly good offer. And, nobody responds positively to demands or threats. They just force the demandee into a defensive posture. How helpful is that?
  6. BE GRACIOUS! If you're offered something, and it's reasonable, thank them. Even if you turn down their offer in favor of an alternative, they've taken time out of their days to work with you on a resolution. When we've gone out of our way to help someone, we like to hear "thank you." So, let them know that you appreciate their assistance. And, if they haven't offered you anything, tell them you appreciate their help, and if there's something you think appropriate, politely bring it up.
Like I said, I can't say my results are typical, nor can I say this is the outcome you should expect from any given situation. I am very grateful that GE stepped up and helped me out. Maybe the same results would have come from being loud, angry, threatening, and belligerent, but it takes just as much energy to be miserable as to be happy, and I'd rather not be miserable. And, knowing how many angry e-mails and phone calls people in the service industry deal with, just think how you'll stand out from the rest. People like to help people who ask, not people who threaten and demand.

Thanks for reading. :)