BBB: Big Franks Appliances

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FLORISSANT, MO (KTVI) - Dozens of consumers who bought used refrigerators, washing machines or stoves from a Florissant, Mo., showroom said the appliances arrived broken or stopped working days after they were installed.

In some cases, customers of Big Frank’s Discount Appliances told the Better Business Bureau (BBB) that they lost food worth hundreds of dollars when their refrigerators stopped cooling. In other cases, they said appliances began leaking soon after they were delivered to their homes or businesses. Many customers said they had to badger company employees for months before finally getting workable appliances or refunds. Some said they never received satisfaction.

“I don’t want to keep calling them; I just want them to fix it,” a Jennings man said of the $350 refrigerator he purchased from the store.

“I don’t believe their appliances are fit for selling,” said a customer from Woodson Terrace. “I will never deal with them again.”

Big Frank’s Discount Appliances, 12671 New Halls Ferry Road, also has been known in recent years as Discount Appliance, Discount Appliances or Appliance Warehouse. A former owner of the business, Mark Whitley, said the store has been in his family since 2004. He told the BBB it has been operated by his father, Ted Whitley, since October 2011.

The business has an “F” rating with the BBB, the lowest possible. Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said consumer complaints with the store date back more than a decade. “The owners, the employees and the name of the business may have changed over the years, but the complaints from consumers have remained the same,” she said. “Our records show a continuing pattern of defective machines, lengthy delays in repairing or replacing them and poor customer service.

“If you want to save a few dollars by buying a used appliance, you might want to consider alternatives until this store changes its business practices,” Corey said.

A man who answered the phone at the store last week identified himself as Kevin Davis, general manager of the store.  He acknowledged past concerns, and said the company’s owner hired him to resolve complaint issues. “I want to correct all of these,” he said of recent complaints to the BBB.  He also said the name of the company was changed just last month to Big Frank’s, although Mark Whitley told the BBB that it had been renamed Big Frank’s after his father took over the store in 2011.

Whitley said that selling and servicing used appliances is a difficult business. “There are always a certain percentage that have breakdowns,” he said.

The store’s website, www.discountappliancestl.com, says it sells “reliable reconditioned appliances. Almost new...for a lot less.” It also says that “Frank and his staff are considered leaders in the pre-owned appliance repair industry,” although both Davis and Whitley said they are aware of no one by that name who works at the store. The site says the store offers “a full six-month warranty with every appliance we sell.”  The store says its warranty policy allows for repairs or replacements, not refunds.

A hair salon operator in Florissant said she paid $450 for a combined clothes washer and dryer unit on Nov. 7.  She said the first unit did not work after it was installed, and the business replaced it. The second machine flooded the back room of her salon. When the dryer on the third unit still did not work, she asked for a refund but the company refused. “I am so mad,” she said. “I would never recommend them.”

Another consumer from Florissant said he had purchased a gas stove from the store two years ago and recently was told by a repairman with another company that the stove was unsafe. He said the repairman showed him melted wires that resulted from a workman replacing a stove igniter with a part from a clothes dryer. The repairman told him it could have caused a fire.

A third customer from Florissant said he bought a washing machine for $160 from the store in September 2012 and, despite three repair visits, it was never fixed. “I never got a workable washing machine, and I never got a refund,” he said. “It was a waste of time.”

Find more: www.bbb.org/