So Your Cabrio's Got the F51 (AKA Cabrio Flu) -- The FAQ

You've probably found this page because you've been trying to find out why your washer repeatedly quits mid-cycle and starts displaying an F-51 message. Well, I've created this blog in the hopes of sorting out the facts and getting the word out on this apparent major defective part with a $700+ consumer product.

Basically, the F51 error is a rotor position sensor error. And from everything I've gleaned from my research it is becoming a growing problem as more and more owners reach the 1st anniversary of becoming a Cabrio owner.

What has to be fixed?
Well per the service technician I spoke with and my aformentioned research, two parts really need to be replaced. 1) the rotor sensor itself ($43) and 2) the control board ($197). Apparently, Whirlpool has yet to officially recall these parts, but there is a new board that has a reduced or no sensitivity to the rotor sensor and thus the problem should be corrected.

Can I fix it myself?
That depends on your level of handy-skills. If you're one who can work on late model foreign cars with ease, then this probably won't be a challenge. But for most amateur handy-"people" this will require a professional.

Will Whirlpool pay for the repair?
If you're under warranty (either 1 year or extended), then, of course. If you're not, then maybe. Some people have reported online that Whirlpool has allowed a "policy adjustment" for this repair. In some cases this has meant a total repair free of charge. In other cases, this has meant parts or labor free, but not all free. Regardless, you'll have to call Whirlpool and try to get farther with honey. If that doesn't work, then make sure Whirlpool knows how much you know and that you really want to be able to recommend Whirlpool in the future, but this doesn't help. You will do the opposite (i.e. tell everyone to avoid Whirlpool) if this isn't resolved.

Why doesn't Whirlpool recall the part and fix everyone's Cabrio?
This is the ultimate $64k question. First, it would cost Whirlpool nearly $400 per unit to repair, this could amount to well over a million dollars in just repairs, not to mention the embarassment of a recall. The second theory is that this isn't the only problem with this washer. Recent reports of rusting and other error codes may be preventing Whirlpool from wanting to set a precdent. Finally, this is a trend with Whirlpool as can be seen with the model previous to the Cabrio, the Calypso. It began experiencing problems shortly after its release, for which Whirlpool had little to no response. The situation eventually landed in court with a class action suit and multi-million dollar settlement (see http://calypsosettlement.com/).

What should we do about it?
First, continuously encourage Whirlpool to do what's right and recall a defective part for one of their flagship products. Second, as long as Whirlpool continues to do this, make certain that every Cabrio owner knows of the problem before paying for repairs. Third, make sure every consumer considering an appliance purchase knows that Whirlpool should be avoided as long as this issue remains unresolved.

Who are you, and why are you doing this blog?
I am a simple consumer (married, father of 4) that paid over $700 for a product and then found myself with a $380 repair bill a little over a year later. When I began researching and learned that this problem is becoming common with this product, I felt the need to educate as much as possible.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My F51 Experience - Day 2

The service tech (ST) from AE Factory Service arrived at about 5:30pm (promised time 1-5pm) to repair the F51 error. From my previous post, I mentioned that Whirlpool had agreed to cover labor OR parts for the repair of this very resurging error (400+ posts). I was angry but chose labor, assuming that the parts would likely be the lesser of the two expenses. I also felt this would be easier to refund at the time that a recall does finally occur, or if Whirlpool is stupid enough, another class action suit.

The ST explained that he has seen a few F51 errors. Now I recognize a few doesn't qualify as a great deal, but this is ONE service tech seeing a few errors on a washer that is not in that many homes. If one tech has seen a few, multiply that across all of the techs and what percentage of Cabrio owners have seen this error.

The estimate came back for parts only as $253. I only paid $700 for this stupid piece of junk and now you're telling me that I have to pay 36% all over again. Get this labor would have only costed me $132. Now, of course, Gloria (Whirlpool's lovely representative from the Whirlpool Customer Experience Center) didn't know what the respective costs would be, so I had to make a blind choice. Furthermore, the ST reported that NO authorization had been given for any chargest to go back to Whirlpool.

Ugggghhhhh!

I called Whirlpool's Customer Experience Center to first have the lovely experience of sitting on hold (with the ST waiting) for over 15 minutes! Then I got to speak to Charlotte.Charlotte first asked for my phone number. Then asked for my address. Then asked for my model and serial number of the appliance I was calling about. I explained that I'm calling about a service request that is already in progress, and that the tech was waiting with me, "can I give you the confirmation number for the service request?"

Charlotte plainly stated, "I must have the model and serial number."I gave it to her. She first told me flat out, that I was out of warranty and it was just too bad. Then she discovered that I had been promised labor, but said nothing more could be covered. I explained how irritating this whole process was becoming, and that I shouldn't have to pay more than 36% of the retail value of a product to have something repaired...especially something that is a known defect.

She stated it is not a known defect because it's not in her system, and that "just because people are saying it on the Internet" doesn't mean it's true. I guess that's true and the other 300+ people talking about it online are just a bunch of liars.

I settled with agreeing to pay for the labor and Whirlpool paying for the parts, but then I was told by Charlotte that, "no that's too bad, we've already agreed to pay for the labor, and you're going to have to pay for the parts."

I then went on to tell Charlotte that I was not a very happy consumer (you think) and that I have already started a blog and e-mailed Michael Todman (President, Whirlpool, North America) regarding this potential defect.

Charlotte very rudely questioned, "Who is that?" I answered who he was, and she then proceeded to argue with me for the next 3 minutes that I was wrong and that Jeff Fettig (CEO) is the President, and that there was no one by the name of Michael Todman at Whirlpool (I guess the SEC should be alerted, huh?).

Anyway, I digress. Bottom line is I asked the ST to leave. Asked Charlotte to speak to a supervisor. She agreed to txfr me. I waited on hold for another 5 minutes, before finally the call went dead. I was hung up on. Now, per Charlotte, I'll e-mail Jeff Fettig.

2 comments:

Trisha Jones said...

I really appreciate this blog and should have done my research before buying this washing machine 2 yrs and 4 months ago. The good thing is that I did get a 5 yr extended warranty. In the two years that I have had this WHIRLPOOL CABRIO Washing Machine. There have been 3 service calls for the famous 51F, now according to my paperwork from were I purchased my machine. I am suppose to be getting another machine BECAUSE IT IS A LEMON FOLKS. This past Monday, August 31st was the 4th time. But I have a feeling that I will going through a battle to get another machine to replace this mess. Thanks for the information and resources!!!!!

Trisha Jones said...

Well Folks today is September the 8th and once again 51F has returned it's like a bad dream or a unwanted relative that just won't leave the guess room. I will never purchase any WHIRLPOOL PRO DUCTS AGAIN!!!! I am done with this mess.