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BACK STORY: Good Fix On Bad Install

When a very popular gastropub, part of a restaurant group, revamped its kitchen, part of the redo included a highly customized refrigerated suite incorporating a cold table, undercounter refrigeration and prep tables. It was ordered and built to fit the kitchen’s exact dimensions. Unfortunately, the care that went into designing the suite did not extend to the installation. “The installer/electrician that the restaurant hired—likely one this restaurant group used for regular electrical work—was not a factory authorized service agent for the manufacturer,” says Rich Farrell Jr., Operations Manager, Malachy Parts & Service, Bayonne, N.J. “Unauthorized service people are not supposed to work on the equipment while it’s under warranty or the manufacturer will void the warranty.” The manufacturers’ rep on the job called Malachy to take a look.

The unauthorized electrician’s poor installation and screwy wiring actually ended up causing major damage to the unit. His wiring blew out all the main components. “It blew the breaker,” Farrell says. “It was wired for incorrect voltages and blew the circuits. It took my tech a whole day to go through the wiring and circuitry to determine all the parts that needed replacing.” Those included the compressor, fan motors, the evaporator and thermostats.

Farrell spoke with the manufacturer’s technical department and clearly informed the dealer and the rep that the manufacturer would not be paying for any of this work because the operator failed to hire an authorized service agent to install the unit.

“We have a relationship with the rep and the dealer, so when they told us they’d take care of the service bill, we went ahead with the repair. We overnighted the parts and we dispatched two techs to get the job done, and it was a big job.” The customer opened on time.

Afterward, Farrell sent the bill to the dealer as agreed. One month turned to three, then to six. Resolution was taking up more and more time as Farrell spent rounds and rounds on the phone with the rep to collect payment from the dealer on what was a substantial bill. The rep and dealer both began to claim that the custom suite was under warranty, even though they’d been told it was not.

“Sadly, we were getting ready to get a lawyer at this point,” Farrell says. “But I tried one more time.” The rep agreed to push it through on warranty, reinvoicing the bill at warranty rates. Three months later Malachy Parts & Service was paid by the manufacturer, for half the cost.

The moral of the story to end-users, reps and dealers is that not everything is under warranty. “Improper installs, especially by unauthorized agents, gas pressure issues, poor calibrations, acts of God and many more instances that cause failures are not covered under warranty,” he says. Farrell wishes everyone would stop making the warranty into some sort of “magic purchase protection” because in the end, it can turn into a nightmare that leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

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