“The lonely repairman is what they call me, cause hardly anyone ever calls me,” the Maytag television ad says. For over 30 years, the lonely Maytag repairman has sung the praises of the company’s reliable washers. “They’re so darn dependable, nothing seems to break except my lonely heart.” But hundreds of unhappy Maytag owners are singing a different tune about their high-priced Neptune washers. “I just spent a lot of money for this washing machine and it stinks,” Ellen Fogel says.
Kevin and Ellen Fogel were horrified to find slimy black mold growing in their new front-loading Neptune washer just months after buying it. “It was a horrible smell that came from it,” Ellen Fogel told CBS 2, adding “I don’t know if this is something that can become airborne. My husband has allergies, my kids have allergies.”
“I called Maytag, I spoke to the service person on the phone and they told me it was a known problem, something they’ve had a number of complaints about,” Kevin Fogel said. A large number it would seem, judging by the long lists of mold complaints on the Internet. The growth is apparently caused by poor drainage and ventilation, so Maytag provided owners with free repair kits.
But the Fogels from Long Island say it doesn’t work. “Within a couple of weeks after that the black mold came back again and it’s still there today,” Kevin Fogel explains. After two repairs kits, New Jersey Neptune owner Jorgen Christiansen says his $1,100 Neptune washer is still encrusted with black mold. “So this kind of thing can actually come off on your clothes”, Diaz asked. “Yes, it leaves black streaks on the clothes,” Christiansen explained.
He says Maytag is now washing its hands of responsibility. “They said ‘Pretty much you’re on your own here, it’s a man-made machine, things happen.'” Fed up, Christiansen is now suing Maytag. His is one of eight lawsuits across the country pursuing class action status, alleging Maytag has failed to fix the Neptune mold problem, as well as door latch and control board failures that have caused the washers to break down.
What happened to the lonely Maytag repairman? It seems like he’s very busy these days” Diaz asked. “The Maytag repairman is still the loneliest guy around,” replied Frank Nekic from the Maytag Corporation. Maytag’s laundry products director — speaking via satellite from Des Moines — refused to disclose how many Neptune complaints the company has received. He said the problems only involve Neptunes made before March, 2000 and have been fixed. “I’m not aware of any consumers that are unhappy with the fix that we have applied for the mold problem.”
“How do you explain that there are these lawsuits and people on these Web sites complaining that the fix didn’t work?” Diaz asked. “I’m not an attorney and I can’t comment on any of the lawsuits,” Nekic replied.
Interestingly, Maytag’s own website gives Neptune owners troubleshooting advice for a long list of potential problems but there’s no mention of mold. “Why is the mold problem not discussed on your Web site?” Diaz asked. “I’m not sure why that is,” Nekic answered. “Is it because Maytag is trying to hide this mold problem?” Diaz asked. “No,” Nekic replied, adding “We’re very concerned with any consumer that has an issue with Maytag.”
But many furious owners say their demands for a trouble-free washer have fallen on deaf ears. “They should find a way to fix the problem, if it means replacing everyone’s Maytag machine then that’s what it means,” Ellen Fogel said.
Maytag officials say the Neptune washers now being sold do not have the problems of the older machines. They continue to insist they’re unaware of any consumers dissatisfied with the mold repair kit and say they’ve moved quickly to address customer complaints, and say there is no merit to the lawsuits. They urge Maytag owners to call Maytag with complaints