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Dip Tube-Class Action Settlement

Posted Fri March 23, 2001, by Pat R. written to Bradford White

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I'm writing with this complaint because of a problem I recently encountered with your company. I thought someone should know about it. I'm quite furious about this.

March 22, 2001

My complaint is against Bradford White and our city/government officials allowing manufactures to get away with this, quietly.

Bradford White's web introduction goes like this: "Welcome to Bradford White Online. Here you can learn about the water heating products and services that make Bradford White unique in the industry. Like everything else we do, this site has been designed with plumbing wholesalers and contractors in mind, and we hope it proves to be a useful tool for building your business." Notice the Special hit button for Dip Tube Bulletin.

Bradford White has a 6 year limited warranty on their water heaters! Again, they are "PROUD" to announce that warranty on their website. NOT THAT THEY ARE GOING TO HONOR THAT WARRANTY TO EACH CONSUMER THAT HAS THEIR PRODUCT, ONLY TO THE ONES THAT FOUND OUT ABOUT THEIR MISTAKE.

Use Bradford products to "help build" your business while homeowners warranties are VOIDED unknowingly and "we" the consumer lose our money.
**Class Action Suit Notification - Approximately 90%, or 21 million, of residential hot water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1996 may rely on defective polypropylene "dip tubes", which break down inside the heater and cause plastic chips to flow to water faucets or piping which carries hot water.
My complaint...
My husband reads the paper religiously, and I skim it whenever possible, we subscribe to homeowners' magazines, family publications, financial magazines and we regularly watch CNN, 20/20, Dateline etc. Nowhere in Bradford's "far reaching programs", did we learn about or hear about this. News like this usually travels quickly, however in our travels, conversations with friends, family, small talk with strangers, or mailed notices did we ever hear about this problem that affected so many people. To the best of my knowledge our homeowners association, local news and city utilities/water authority did not release information on this important issue or on the class action settlement.
Bradford's uses the example of Good Morning America running a feature story...well, hello out there, I need to work for a living so I am not sitting at home watching morning TV. Sorry, Bradford White but I don't think you did your part! You did what little you had too, and no more. We consumers have little or no power to fight these businesses to live up to their promises. It's a shame and a disgusting one at that! Doesn't Bradford White, with the ISO9001 Standard of Excellence keep track of their wholesalers and contractors that purchased their products? Don't they have warranty information on the units? Isn't the product registered in the event there is a recall they know where those units are that need to recalled? I am furious that a homeowner that had this product in 1993 had three more years to be able to detect the problem then me. I received the defective product in 1996 and most likely reports were starting to trickle in with this problem. I feel used and taken.

Our house was built in 1996. In December 2000 we noticed that our water pressure was dropping some, we noticed a deposit in our faucets restricting the flow of water. We cleaned them out. Virginia Beach made some changes to chemicals used to clean water, and thought that this could be part of our problem. My husband called Centex (#1 residential builder in the country; our builder) only to discover they knew nothing about it. My husband called Centex's sub-contractor, Geo Davis, the plumber used during the timeframe our house was built. After several calls were made, no return calls only to later learn he is no longer in business. My husband called the City of Virginia Beach Utilities. With this one call - we heard, learned and were now going to experience the "Expensive Defective Dip Tube Problem." One of the city workers told my husband on the phone that day about the defective dip tube and advised him to call a plumber.

We went from seeing and cleaning white deposits out of our faucets from once a month, to once a week to every other day like that! Careful. This will sneak up on you, so beware! On February 2, 2001 at the tune of $535.00, it was highly recommended, that we replace our entire hot water heater since the dip tube had in fact dissolved beyond repair. We already at this point had replaced every showerhead in the house because of the deposits junking up the water holes and restricting the pressure. Now the master bathroom has no pressure; an example of the water flow is like an infant male relieving himself. We called the plumber again. He had already told us earlier that this might happen; our pipes need to be blown out! All of the debris has gummed up and blocked the opening for hot water flow. On 2-10-2001 the plumbing company is back. A large hole is cut into the drywall in order to get to the pipes and $298.90 later, the shower line has been blown out, replaced the blocked up cartridge and we now have water again flowing from the master shower. The plumber tells us "this is no guarantee they might need to come back if this material continues to dislodge from the lines junking up other fixtures". I noticed that our dishes were not getting cleaned; the top rack wasn't even getting water to it. Again, $+600 later we are at Sears replacing our dishwasher another unexpected out of pocket expense. Scarred silly, my husband yanked the washing machine out to check it for these plastic white deposits. Thankfully, this appliance is less then a year old, it had screen protecting the opening from any foreign objects passing thought the hoses. But again, the screen was jammed tight of this stuff. My husband and I are grateful for this inexpensive preventive device.

Then to insult to injury...our local paper comes out with an article on March 17th, "Faulty tubes can cause water heater problems". However, no one truly did their homework on this article, because nowhere does it mention the Class Action Suit and the article recommends that you locate the manufacturer and call the customer service number to see what the company's policy is. Here it is. Sorry, you're too late!


DIP TUBE BULLETIN UPDATE
January 2001
In November 1999 Bradford White Corporation (and the other major water heater manufacturers) entered into a national class action settlement with a group of more than 14,000,000 consumers nationwide to provide effective relief for their dip tube problems. In connection with the national class action settlement, the water heater manufacturers engaged in a far-reaching and comprehensive notice program, in which they:
7 published notice of the settlement in nearly 900 newspapers and magazines, including a full-page ad in the USA Today;
7 sent notice by mail to more than 133,000 licensed plumbers nationwide and to hundreds of municipal water authorities and home owners' associations;
7 sent a press release (including video) to thousands of daily and weekly newspapers and television stations throughout the country;
7 created a website detailing the settlement program and established a toll-free dip tube hotline number; and
7 published information about the settlement in Spanish in the country's twelve largest Spanish publications.
In addition stories on the dip tube issue ran in numerous trade publications, newspapers, magazines and on TV. By way of example, Good Morning America ran a feature story on the dip tube issue. The Wall Street Journal and Consumer Reports magazine also chronicled the dip tube problem.
Under the terms of the Order of Final Approval of the Settlement by the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, the deadline for consumers filing claims under the settlement expired on December 31, 2000. This deadline was agreed to by counsel for the class of consumers and approved by a Federal Judge.
As of January 1, 2001 consumers may no longer make dip tube claims to either the Settlement Administrator or to Bradford White. Consumers who timely filed claim forms will continue to be serviced by the Settlement Administrator. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks for processing.
Due to the expiration of the filing deadline, Bradford White will not accept any claims for dip tube related expenses or costs filed on or after January 1, 2001.


Even though I've never done business with your company, I feel my input is valuable to you.

No matter what the outcome, I definitely won't be a repeat customer. Will I recommend your company to people I know? Definitely not.

Here's what I'd like class actions suits to do: Be fair ..... make sure that all consumers are alerted to problems that they will encounter. Manufacturers should be held accountable to get this information out to all consumers and their customers by using warranty cards that are completed and mailed back to manufacturers, all newspapers - not selected ones. Think how you the consumer would like be treated, not cheated.

I hope you can settle this problem in a timely and professional manner. I look forward to a personal response in 10 business days.


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