"Burned" by my Hamilton Beach toaster oven. Why can't I get a refund?
February 1, 2024
Ronald Crossley's Hamilton Beach toaster oven doesn't work. And apparently, neither does the Hamilton Beach customer service department. How does he get this appliance fixed?
I returned a Hamilton Beach toaster oven earlier this year because of functional and design problems that made it useless. Specifically, the upper element remains "on" in any mode and burns food.
Before the return window passed, I emailed Hamilton Beach asking for at least a confirmation of their having received the toaster oven. I got a reply requesting a few business days -- and then, nothing.
I asked Hamilton Beach for a refund. Despite several attempts to contact the company by phone and email over a month, it did not respond.
I've never encountered such poor customer service, and hope you can provide some advice or help me recoup the $130 I spent on the toaster oven. They know paying for a lawyer would be dumb, but are there any legal avenues? Do these corporations have the right to rob people?
Ronald Crossley, Coplay, Pa.
Your Hamilton Beach toaster oven shouldn't have burned your food, regardless of the warranty. The average lifespan of a toaster oven is five years. You had yours for just over a year.
And that's the problem: The toaster oven is out of warranty, and you're asking the company for a refund outside the return window. Based on the paper trail you've sent, it looks like the company doesn't quite know what to do with your case.
Your problem falls under a gray area. You contacted Hamilton Beach about the problem with your toaster oven before the warranty ran out, but you didn't return it until after the warranty expired. If there's a takeaway for the rest of us, it's that you should always return an item before the warranty expires to avoid any confusion.
The warranty confusion probably melted Hamilton Beach's collective brains. Your correspondence suggested that it knew something was wrong with the toaster, but hey, rules are rules. As I note in my guide to getting a repair, replacement, or refund for your broken appliance (available for free on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org), your toaster oven came with an implied warranty that it would work -- and that it would not burn your food -- beyond the express warranty that caused Hamilton Beach to freeze up. In other words, I think you had a strong case.
I publish the names, numbers, and email addresses of the Hamilton Beach customer service executives on my site. A brief, polite email to one of them, following the steps of the Elliott Method for resolving your case, might have helped. But the more I looked at your case, the more I realized this needed a professional to nudge the company along. Something got stuck somewhere.
You contacted my advocacy team, and we gave Hamilton Beach a nudge. It didn't respond, so my team gave Hamilton Beach another nudge. That seemed to work. A representative emailed us and said, "I escalated this request to our consumer affairs team and they have ordered him a new oven."
You decided to sell the new oven and try a different brand of toaster oven. After what you've been through, that's understandable.
Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy (https://elliottadvocacy.org), a nonprofit organization that helps consumers solve their problems. Email him at [email protected] or get help by contacting him at https://elliottadvocacy.org/help/
© 2023 Christopher Elliott