Heights man Turns To Ted and donates washer-dryer replacement to new American family

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A long-time Houston Heights resident says he spent almost 60 hours trying to get a busted washer-dryer replaced before he Turned to Ted. The best part of the solution is that the replacement wasn't even for him, but a needy charity.

"Here's the deal," Robert Fowler told ABC13 recently in his backyard, "We bought it in July of 2019."

Fowler was speaking of a busted clothes washer still sitting just inside his breakfast room.

"We would put the clothes in, it would start to spin, it would stop and it would say, 'Rebalance load,'" he said. "It would go 15 or 30 seconds, it would stop, [and again light up] 'Rebalance load.' It would just keep doing this over and over and over."

He said one time, he stood in front of the machine for an hour.

Fowler told Eyewitness News he complained to Sears. It's a store Fowler said his family loved and relied on for generations. Sears, he said, sent a replacement, but then, "Boom, same problem."

When he called Sears again to ask for a refund, Fowler said Sears told him he was out of the replacement or refund time window.

He said he spent hours on hold trying to get it repaired and said Sears eventually sent four technicians before agreeing to let him get another model. Fowler said the company sent him a voucher for a new one, but when he finally had time to pick it out, the salesman said, "No."

"He said, 'Oh, Mr. Fowler, your authorization is expired. It was only good for 90 days.'"

That's when Fowler Turned to Ted.

A Sears executive acted quickly to reach out to Fowler after ABC13 called. However, the company did not offer an on-the-record comment about the problem or solution.

"Two days after I contacted you, Sears just flipped. Two days," Fowler explained after we asked why he called ABC13. "I had been working with them a year and I couldn't even get them to answer the phone. Two days after you contact them, all of a sudden they are so sweet, you know? And you say, 'Why do I call you?' Come on! Come on."

It was a good feeling, but not the end of the story. As he tried to get a new washer, Fowler still had to wash his clothes. He bought another brand and stuck the broken washer in the corner of his breakfast room, but he wasn't giving up because he wanted Sears to stand by its product.

Plus, he wanted to put it to good use.

"I called Catholic Charities," Fowler said about the charity he'd served with on a medical mission years earlier.

He told Catholic Charities if he could get Sears to give him a new washer-dryer, he wanted to donate it to a refugee family. Charlie Cabrera with Catholic Charities knows how badly they need it.

"They come here to the United States with nothing, and this is a way for them to get a start," Cabrera said.

As he spoke with ABC13, Cabrera stood in Catholic Charities' Houston warehouse full of items destined soon for new homes. Fowler's new washer dryer was right there, but won't be for long.

As of Tuesday, Fowler's breakfast room is for breakfast again, and that new washer-dryer is about to be delivered to a deserving family.

"We try to put everything together for a family that doesn't have anything," said Cabrera. "It's what Catholic Charities does."

If you, too, would like to help Catholic Charities, the charity wants us all to know it cannot take personal donations during the pandemic. They are still accepting from retailers.

If you want to help, Betsy Ballard with Catholic Charities told ABC13, "Like any charity, we're always grateful for donations of time and money. Kind viewers can get information on how to help from our website."

There are numerous opportunities to volunteer time and methods to donate money to help.

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