Sears’ Pricey House-call

Dan and Marguerite found out the hard way that Sears uses a “minimum charge” to extort repair fees from their customers.

When their 8-year-old refrigerator suddenly started making noises, they called Sears and were told that a repair person could be sent to their house for $65. Naturally, the guy missed the scheduled time, but claimed that it was ok because he at least he called during the 4 hour window. You know, the four hour winddow when he was supposed to be at their house fixing shit? Right. This is a modification on the scam that is always pulled on me, where the repair guy randomly calls your cell phone or your fax number (rather than your house phone) and because you didn’t pick up, he cancels your appointment. If you call him back to tell him, “Yes, I took the day off to sit here waiting for you, I’m home. Please god, don’t do this to me.” He doesn’t answer the phone and you have to wait two more weeks to get your defective dryer fixed. Sears has done this to me, personally, three times.

Anyway, when the guy finally shows up, he takes a look at the icebox and proclaims the ice-maker not hooked up to the water system. He disconnects the power to the ice-maker and all is well. Sort of.

This is when Dan finds out that the $65 dollars was just a base fee, and that since there was a “serious problem” Dan didn’t qualify for that rate. The new price was $109. Of course, if Dan didn’t want him to do the repair, he’d take his $65 dollars and leave.

This begs the question, what exactly is NOT a serious problem? The appliance just isn’t plugged in? Read Dan and Marguerite’s repair drama after the jump.

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-mail. My wife and I recently had an encounter with Sears:

In August, ’06, I called Sears regarding a strange noise coming from our 8 year old refrigerator. Sears said that they would have a technician out on Tuesday between 8 am and 12 noon, the minimum charge is $65.00.

On the Tuesday I waited for Sears, at 11:53 am I received a call from the Sears technician who stated that he would be able to get to my home between 1 pm and 5 pm. I asked about the 8-to-12 timeframe and he said that they are required to state a 4 hour timeframe but that on the day of the call we are put on a route list and that my name fell in the afternoon, and that he was calling before 12 noon to inform me of the schedule, therefore he was within the timeframe.

When the technician arrived he looked at the refrigerator and stated that the ice-maker bar was in the “on” position and since it wasn’t hooked up to a water system it made the noise because it wanted to make ice. The technician stated that he could disconnect the ice-maker mode and eliminate any further noise. I said, okay.

I then stated that I would make the check out for $65.00. The technician stated the cost was $109.00. I asked about the $65.00 price quote I had received over the phone and re-stated via the computer reminder the day before the appointment. The technician stated that if he found a serious problem then he would make an estimate for cost and at that time if I refused to have the work performed then the charge would be $65.00. As I didn’t meet that criteria the charge was $109.00. I then asked the technician how many people pay the $65.00 rate, he said very few, and the $109.00 was the normal charge.

I contacted Sears regarding their policy and was told that the charges were correct. I then requested that I have my name removed from their mailing/tele-marketing list and was told that it would take about 8 weeks.

My feeling is that Sears is willing to write off a percentage of customers who complain rather than try to correct a problem with their way of doing business.

Again, thank you for your time.

Dan & Marguerite

Comments

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  1. DeeJayQueue says:

    -He’s had the fridge for 8 years and it just NOW started making the noise from the ice maker being on?
    -I know sometimes it’s tough to troubleshoot things, but that seems like a relatively simple switch to throw. I’d have paid the man his $65 and told him that no repair was necessary and have a good day. If the fridge has been running fine the way it was for 8 years and someone accidentally hit the “Ice Maker ON” switch now, there’s nothing wrong with the unit. Sears can suck it.

  2. maggie says:

    My Sears dishwasher started making a horrible noise. I called for Sears. They showed up exactly on time (8 am), pulled it out of the cabinetry; they thought it would be the fanbelt (or something like that) and I told them it was a really big noise. They ran a partial cycle, dishwasher needed huge $$$ new motor. They asked if it was under warranty since the expense was close to the cost of new washer. I happily put my hands on booklet, we read the warranty out loud (“defective in material or workmanship” was the key language) and the more experienced of the repair people said that any nearly-three-year-old dishwasher that had a motor break down was “defective”. Outcome: everything covered by warranty! Plus when they left, the dishwasher was 1/2″ off in the cabinet and my drawers wouldn’t open. They were back in 10 minutes to slide it in again. So…maybe I was lucky or maybe there are some excellent reasonable Sears repair people out there!

  3. bambino says:

    DIY. Pay the man $65 for his inspection. Goodbye.

  4. Magister says:

    Umm, he did have to disconnect the Ice Maker. I am not sure what the problem is.

  5. Anonymously says:

    I had the same sort of thing happen to me with a garage door repair company. They told me the “service call was $XX including parts and labor” but they meant “excluding”. The service call fee was just to have the mofo show up at your door. His hourly rate wasn’t included in that.

  6. Romhain says:

    Ok, this is just great…I work for Sears, and I would have to say that about 85% of our issues with customers happens because of technicians not showing up/charging too much/fixing NOTHING!!! It really disgusts me, the way the company runs it’s business and of course, though I try and be as helpful and understanding as possible I my end (I work in tech support for laundry items and schedule repairs, the customer still calls and screams at me because the tech or the company didn’t own up to promises made!!! These issues have only gotten worse since Sears merged with Kmart, and things have become pretty bad for employees as well, benefits don’t even begin to kick in now until you are there for SIX months, which is quite ridiculous!!! I wish there were something I could do to prevent things like this from happening, sadly I only have the power to do so much. We are not even allowed to trouble shoot for someone outside of warranty even if it’s something as simple as they need to check their breaker box to make sure things are still flicked on. It’s embarrising but given that I have little to know actual outside contact with people who own sears products, I had no idea it was THIS bad…

    It really makes me sad,
    Rowan

  7. bitplayer says:

    With Sears he could have just purchased a one year warranty for like $100 and cover the thing totally for a year. Might be better if it’s on the fritz.

  8. Searstech says:

    Why are you pissed at the tech? It’s not his fault YOU didn’t read your owners manual. Do you think the truck runs out to your house for FREE? He gets paid….poorly I might add… by the hour. Sears pays him, the truck cost, and the ins. Do you think the $65.00 is high? The tech. might have spent an hour driving to your house. Do you get paid for what you do? It seems you know how to tpye…..shall we try reading now? They even put pictures in the owners manual. DUH.