Sears’ Frosty Home Repair

Apparently, we’re not the only ones who’ve had Sears repair people not show up for their appointments. Meet Jim, a man with a broken fridge. Not knowing how to fix a fridge himself, Jim called Sears Home Repair and scheduled an appointment. He was given a $65 estimate and a four hour repair window. Jim waited patiently, earnestly, for his hero to arrive. Guess who didn’t show? Jim says:

“They had no idea why the repairman was a no-show. [They told me]”Maybe he didn’t show up to work today, but we have no way of knowing that.”

That’s right, they didn’t even know Jim got stood up like it was the junior prom. Annoyed, but still in good spirits, Jim decided to try to collect a $65 “inconvienience fee” from Sears to compensate for having to sit around for four hours waiting for the repair douchebag. From Jim’s email to Sears:

“Also, please be informed that I have a no-show charge of $65.Please let me know if you’d like to pay by check or credit card. Payment is due within 30 days of your receipt of this e-mail, and late payments are charged at the current prime rate per day.”

You can imagine how Sears took that. Read highlights of Jim’s email exchange with Sears after the jump.

From me:
Now that my technician is 26 hours late, any word on when he plans to show up?

Also, please be informed that I have a no-show charge of $65.
Please let me know if you’d like to pay by check or credit card.
Payment is due within 30 days of your receipt of this e-mail, and late
payments are charged at the current prime rate per day.

Reply #1:

We have forwarded your message to the local and regional manager of the service unit assigned to your service order. Please allow one to two business days for them to research and respond to your issue.

We appreciate your business, and value you as a Sears customer. We certainly hope you will continue to make Sears your choice for quality and value.

Kevin R.
Sears Customer Care

My reply after several days went by:

I scheduled a refrigerator repair visit for a four-hour window.

A repairman never showed up. I still have not been told why. Nobody at Sears seems to know why…or even care.

Today, I received a phone call from a polite Sears appointment rep asking me if I’d like to reschedule. I’ll pose the same question to you that I would to her: If you were me, would you reschedule?

Should I reschedule because Sears made a mistake?
Should I reschedule in hopes that half of another beautiful spring Saturday isn’t wasted on Sears?
Should I reschedule because Sears repairman are normally punctual, polite, and trustworthy?

She couldn’t offer me a good reason, and I suspect you can’t either.

When I moved in my new home in 2001, I bought several thousand dollars worth of new appliances from Sears on a brand new Sears credit card, as I imagine many new homeowners do. In the past five years, all of my appliances have required service and parts. The refrigerator I purchased–one of the most expensive you sold at the time, has required five service visits for five different malfunctioning parts.

So now I’m wondering: Why should I ever shop at Sears again?

Sears Reply #2

Please allow the service manager another one or two business days to contact you. Please relate your concerns to the manager. We
apologize for the service appointment which we missed, and the inconvenience which this caused you.

Kevin R.
Sears Customer Care

My reply, days later

Kevin-

A service manager called today and asked if I would like to schedule an appointment. She was completely unaware of the exchange below. I
asked her why a repairman never showed up 10 days ago. She had no idea why, but told me she’d “track it” and get back to me. I’ll let
you know how that goes.

Sears Reply #3

We apologize that the service manager that contacted you seemed to be unaware of the circumstances. When your inquiry was referred, it was
referred verbatim, as shown below. The entire email string was forwarded. Please advise, if we can be of further assistance.

Look for Great Ideas throughout the store and find Sears exclusive innovations from great brands like Sony, Kenmore, NordicTrack, Craftsman
and Reebok. Shop sears.com now to pick up great products for the season.

Dennis F.

Awesome! I’d love to hear more about those exciting innovations from Reebok. But about that refrigerator repair…

It has now been 17 days since my service request, and I still have not been told what the status of this repair might be. Please advise if the repairman is en route. Since my refrigerator is no longer functioning, it’s becoming more difficult to prepare food for my one-year-old son, and we’ve been forced to forage for nuts and berries in the local park. (I worry my son is beginning to go feral.)

—–

At this point, I was given a number to call their “Executive Service Department” which had no idea why why repairman was a no-show (as expected) and was asked again if I’d like to reschedule. I asked for a guarantee that a repairman would show up within that four hour window, and was told “we can’t promise that.” Beautiful. So, Sears expects its customers to set aside four hour blocks for appointments, but can’t promise that anyone will show up in that window, nor even explain why if they don’t?

Finally, I repeated my request for payment on my personal “Inconvenice Fee” of $65, and asked who I should send my invoice to. After several confusing back-and-forth exchanges where I had to explain that this was MY charge to Sears, not the other way around, I was angrily transferred to “someone who will take care of this for you,” which, I learned, is the customer service rep slamming the phone down and disconnecting me.

The repairman still has not shown. I wait by the window, hoping he’ll call…

Comments

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  1. Triteon says:

    I would keep after them, and if that still doesn’t work then take the fight to them.
    Columbus Day is coming up, with the requisite sales period. Try heading to the Sears appliance area on Saturday of that weekend, printed emails in hand (they should be fairly busy). Ask in a loud, clear voice who you may talk to in order to have your 5 yo refrigerator fixed, since the tech is over a month late and the Sears phone CSRs can’t tell you when he’ll arrive.

  2. AcilletaM says:

    I would threaten to go to Lowes or Home Depot. Sears typically has done well in the home appliance market, they all but owned that market. But now they are losing sales to the home improvement stores, which isn’t good for the chain which is already struggling.

  3. joeba says:

    I have had similar bad experiences with Sears Appliances and repair services and will NEVER buy another appliance from them. In the 6 years that I’ve been in my house I bought the following from them:

    -Top of the line (non-stainless) refidgerator. Installer did a crappy job on the ice cube feed line, and I had to repair that, and clean up the leak 6 months later.
    -Top of the line over the stove microwave over. The plastic that held the glass up inside the door broke, causing the glass to fall down. Then the door itself cracked (within two years of purchase). There was no abusive slamming of the door that caused this, it was a manufacturing defect. It cost $250 to replace this on my $450 microwave oven.
    -Top of the line dishwasher. 4 years after purchase, the all in one touch pad died. They wanted $400 to repair this. I bought and installed a new one from ABT for $350.
    -Top of the line Clothes Dryer. Caught on fire. This was my fault, due to not knowing that the line to the outside need to be cleaned out every year…

  4. I think Jim should send their bill to a collections agency.

    I read a short blip in a newspaper about how a guy sucessfully sued his doctor’s office for keeping him waiting for two hours. I think he got $150.

  5. GenXCub says:

    It’s most likely a city to city experience. Here in Vegas, Sears came out twice. Once to evaluate my big screen (It done blew up) and order the part, then the 2nd visit to replace the part. Both times were in the window and both times they called about 30 minutes before arriving to make sure I was there.

  6. Magister says:

    Get more people to start charging for missed appointments. Then get someone to start enforceing the charges.

  7. I’m just amazed Jim managed to maintain a healthy sense of humor about the whole thing throughout the experience. Of all the appliances to stop working in a home, I’d think that a fridge repair would rank pretty high on Sears’ list.

    But to say that even in a 4-hour window, they can’t guarantee that a technician will arrive, what the hell is that about? Why bother giving an arbitrary window of time at all?

  8. Roadgeek says:

    As a former Sears appliance salesperson, I can tell you how to deal with this. Go back to the store where you made the purchase and ask/demand to see the store manager. Be polite but firm. Do not howl and shriek and be abusive. Bring all the documentation of youor experience. Sears store managers and Appliance(Brand Central) managers can use back-channels to get in touch with service personnel. It’s probably time to stop dealing with the 1-800 CSR’s as they are in a call center someplace. The store manager will more than likely delegate you to an underling but you will be taken care of since the underling has his boss looking over his shoulder. Remember, start with the store manager.
    Forget about the $65 refund. It isn’t going to happen. I sympathize, and so will the store manager, but they will not allow the local store’s P&L to take a hit because another division within Sears dropped the ball. I know they are all the same company but each store is its’ own accounting center.
    Finally, consider finding a small mom-and-pop appliance dealer to deal with in the future. I needed repair work done on my Kenmore washer purchased in 2000. I called a small dealer that had a good rep; they offered to come out that afternoon and did the work for under $100. Small dealers tend to be far more responsive than big organizations; the loss of even one customer due to ill-feelings can hurt them. The sad thing is that I went to work for another big box retailer…but I would never, ever buy a home appliance from them after witnessing first-hand how customers with problems are treated. Color me Orange…..

  9. EmilyBeth says:

    On the other hand, my Kenmore microwave lasted for 17 years without a problem. I now have a year-and-a-half old GE that’s a lemon. More on that when I have the energy to write about a good (!) experience.

  10. Around here they sub-contract all the home appliance repair out so I can see how they won’t know the details of the repair folks.

  11. FMF says:

    I will never, ever make another major purchase at Sears (unless it’s a REALLY good deal, of course.) ;-)

    Seriously, they’ve put me through the ringer over a crappy elliptical machine I purchased six months ago (oh, could tell you customer service nightmare stories that would make your bones chill). I’m still in the process of duking it out with them, but I’m determined to cost them as much as I can all along the way.

    The rub is that I really used to like Sears. We bought all our major appliances there (including a washer and a dryer we got a year ago) and have had good luck with them. But not any more. I’m not trusting them with another dollar on a major purchase. Yeah, I might buy some clothes for the kids or a tool or two there, but that’s it.

    Unless, of course, there’s a wonderfully, big, blow-out sale. ;-)

  12. badrobot says:

    4 hr time window? wtf? i recently had to call sears to have them out to look @ my fridge b/c it was randomly producing a totally rank smell. i got an 8 hr time window. so a whole day was shot. the tech came out, pulled the fridge out, checked it over & told me the smell was probably meat in the freezer that was bad (unlikely as i had purchased the meat just 2 days before and the smell was coming in going for over 2 wks now). that was it. he didn’t have anything else to say. didn’t do anything else.

    lucky for me there was no service charge b/c the fridge was less than a year old & i had purchased the protection plan (which i do on most large electronic or appliance purchases after getting totally screwed by best buy & sony on a tv i bought a few years ago. unlucky for me, the fridge is still producing the rank smell at totally random times.

  13. Brie says:

    These are the reasons I’ll no longer buy an appliance from Sears:

    1) When the appliance breaks and I have to call the 800 number, I have to *speak* to the robot. I actually have to stand there saying “Repair,” then “refrigerator,” hoping the robot’s software will understand me. What was wrong with “For Repair, press 1″?

    2) When I get through to the appointment setters, the appointment they offer me is… about ten days away. What I’m supposed to do with my decaying food in the interim isn’t discussed.

  14. Jennifer42 says:

    I’ve had similar difficulties with Sears..I had a fridge (‘top of the line’ model) go bad in less than a year, just stopped cooling.

    So then I had to pay up front for a warranty repair (just in case it failed because I took an ice pick to it or something) The guy shows, took my check, told me I had to wait to have a part mailed to me and THEN call for another appointment. The part was (of course) the wrong part, so we had to start over, and then they sent two more of the wrong part before they discovered they didn’t have the right one…so I actually went to the local appliance shop and got the part myself. All told, nearly two weeks for a repair that ultimately took twenty minutes. Then I had to wait until my checks cleared, call Sears, and wait for them to send me a reimbursement check. So yeah, next time it’s Costco.

  15. theora55 says:

    I bought a Sears fridge. Shortly after I bought it (and refused the service contract) it startd making an odd popping sound, so I called Repair. Turns out the defroster heats up and burns off ice, making the sound. A frequent question that could have been answered by phone. But I agreed to a service call, with a minimum $75 charge.

    The repair person visited, explained the issue, and charged me the $75 for the visit, plus 65$ for service. I protested that no service was provided, but Sears insisted on charging me $65 for a 1 minute explanation. I was able to get the charge waived because I demanded to speak with a supervisor, and calmly refused to be exploited. Haven’t called them ever again – local repair shops have been fine.

  16. Plasmafire says:

    Yea.. Sears Sucks royally when it comes to this thing we like to call “customer service” Lets just say we have had more than a few dealings with their so called repair people, and lets just say sears for the most part over here contracts out all repair work to local repair shops, and often they don’t show.

    I love the concept of billing sears for the time you wasted waiting for them, imagine all the money people could have made being at work instead of waiting for someone not to show. This could literally be costing the economy millions of dollars, not to mention people hundreds of dollars.

    We go with a local chain called Waukesha Appliance, their customer service has been second to none, and their repair people are experts on just about everything, we buy all our appliances from them and if anything goes wrong we give them a call, and they show up and repair anything, even if its out of warranty.

  17. Kat says:

    If you have to take the day off from work to wait for the repairman and he doesn’t show, I think they should a. pay whatever wages you lost from missing work and b. explain to your boss that it was their screw-up, so you don’t get fired for having to take another day off to wait.

    As though it’ll ever happen…

  18. FredTheCat says:

    No idea what state this was in but in California there is state law that requires compensation if a technician does not appear during a four-hour window. Here’s a blurb about it:

    http://www.kron.com/Global/story.asp?S=3707614

    -FredTheCat

  19. rsherma says:

    Sears product and support has definitely seemed to go downhill since KMART took over the company.

    In the last 1.5 years, we have purchased an Kenmore Elite Refrigerator and a Kenmore Stove. First, when the stove was delivered and installed, it began sparking! Apparently two of the wires were installed backwards, which caused one of the burners not to work. And as far as the refrigerator is concerned, we had to have repairmen out 3 times. In one case the freezer was not keeping items frozen, even after turning the controls to the coldest setting. Another visit was due to the water dispenser not working. And finally, due to a shelf that cracked, and could not get the new shelf to stay in properly. Just last week, another shelf cracked.

    If this was not bad enough, we purchased both products (6 months apart) with 2 years, no interest. Making payments, the billing department cannot seem to get it straight when you want a payment to go for one specific appliance. After three phone calls later, the billing department admitted that they cannot handle the request of using the payment to go towards the first item, only.

    I will never again by a Sears appliance! Let the buyer beware!

  20. jkd says:

    It is highly unfortunate, but Sears Repair ‘non-service’ has become the norm and not the exception. It took me nearly 4 weeks and 2 different Sears repair persons before I finally got my Kenmore dryer fixed. And let’s not discuss how many times no one showed for an appointment that I took time off from work for. There is no one you can complain to at Sears HQ in IL; you’re routed to a call center and promised that a supervisor will call you back (NOT!). Never again will I call for their service. I found out that my dryer is actually a Maytag and will now call a local company for any more services to my appliances. And I will blatently tell anyone NOT to call Sears for repair. It’s not worth the pain and lost time.

  21. Searstech says:

    I’m a Sears Refrig. repairman with over 35 years with the Co. They over book us every day. There is NO training. They want us to work 12 hr days and our day off too. They treat us like we are rented mules and tell us if we don’t like it….there’s the door. Hundreds of years of experience has walked out that door in the form of experienced techs. They can not be replaced. You think it’s bad being a customer? Ha! try being a tech.
    Now you know why Sears Service sucks. Let’s hope that Sears figures it out before even more senor techs take that door.

  22. Cd123456789 says:

    The glass shelf in my new Kenmore refrigerator shattered into hundreds of pieces all over my food. There was absolutely NO force of impact and no apparent trauma. I just woke up one morning and there it was – a broken glass mess.

    I spent hours on the phone with Sears repair trying to get someone to register the product defect and obtain a repair. Five calls later, and a huge headache, but no success.

    I filed a complaint with the FTC. I don’t know if my single complaint to the FTC will help, but if all shattered glass shelves (and other product failures) were reported to the FTC, that could make a difference.

    The FTC Complaint form can be found at [rn.ftc.gov]

    Shattered glass in food is a serious health risk.

    Rotting food in failing refrierators described by others is also a serious health risk.

  23. lfbilancione says:

    The Sears Home repair call center are work at home people who only read a scipt and log the calls. There is no supervisor handy to get help.