Sears Takes 2 Months And 4 Appointments To Fix Improperly Installed Washer

On Sept. 1 2006, I purchased a Kenmore HE2 Washer and Dryer from a Sears store located in Richmond, VA. These were full-sized units with the dryer stacked on top, and it was installed inside a utility closet in my kitchen by Sears technicians. I paid an additional $233 for a 5-year warranty for the washing machine.

As I will document below, Sears failed to live up to its warranty on multiple occasions, and because of this negligence my home has experienced considerable water damage.

In October of this year, I came home to find water puddled on my floor around the washing unit. I called Sears customer care to request that – in compliance with my warranty – they send a technician to fix the problem. They scheduled an appointment on a Wednesday two weeks later.

I’m a school teacher, so for that day I requested off work so I could be home when the technician came. I had received the automated courtesy call the night before confirming that they would come between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. At 4:45 p.m., when nobody had showed up or called, I called customer care again and was told that the appointment was switched until next morning (even though nobody ever bothered to call me to ask if this was ok).
I told the person that this was not acceptable, since I had taken off work and could not reasonably take off work again the next day. She said that since it was their mistake, that they would accommodate my schedule by coming at 5 p.m. the next day after I got home from work.

A technician called the next day and confirmed that he would be there at 5 p.m. As can be ascertained, nobody showed up. I called Sears again, and was told that nobody is ever scheduled after 5 p.m. and that that was a mistake. I was on the phone for about 2 hours, and finally they tried to “transfer” me to the manager, but my call was dropped, and when I called back nobody picked up.

I called customer care and scheduled an appointment for two weeks later (keep in mind that standing water has been under the units all this time, and I can’t get to it because they’re stacked). That Saturday, a technician showed up, ran the washer once, never unstacked the units, and declared that the problem “must have fixed itself.”
Of course, it wasn’t long after that I had a puddle of water on my floor again – this time I hadn’t even run the washer in a week. Becoming more and more irate, I called and scheduled yet another appointment, making sure to mention that these were stacked units and that I needed 2 technicians so they could be unstacked and actually serviced. Since I didn’t want to take off work, my father offered to wait at my house for the people to show up.

The appointment came around, and only 1 technician showed up. It was the same technician as before, he claimed that he couldn’t do anything because it takes 2 technicians to unstack the units (even though I made sure to tell customer care that they were stacked.)

Sensing my frustration, the technician personally rescheduled the appointment and reassured me that two technicians would come a week later. I had to take the day off work. Both showed up, unstacked my dryer, and fixed the washer. But when they moved it out, there was still water on the floor, and my floor was completely damaged (after having water sit there for over a month because of their repeated failures). The technician informed me that the problem was one of installation because they put hoses on my machine that were too short and they wore down over time. Incidentally, the machines didn’t even have to be unstacked to be fixed, and this was something he could have fixed the first time he visited. Because the damage was caused by a bad installation, he informed me that Sears is obligated to fix the water damage, and all I had to do was file a claim.

After several hours on the phone, being transferred from department to department, repeated “dropped calls,” I finally got to file a claim that I was told was “most likely not going to be honored” since my installation was so long ago. I was also told that all claims should be responded to by phone within 48 hours.

Today is Sunday; I made my call last Wednesday. I have received no call and it has been well over 48 hours. This problem started in October – and after repeated no-shows, improper service, hours on the phone with customer care, two missed days of work, and inconveniencing my family, this issue has still not been resolved. So we’ve turned to you to possibly help alert Consumerist readers to Sears’ shoddy customer service.

Thank you for any help you can give.

Sincerely,
Sapna

Since (as far as we can tell from their website) Sears offers a 1 year warranty for their installations, you may well be past the point that Sears will consider itself responsible for the damage caused to your home. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t report their crappy installation and crappier warranty repair to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, however.

Sears’ appliance repair technicians are licensed with the commonwealth, and complaints of this nature are the sort of things that a dispute resolution team could potentially help you with. We took at look at Virginia’s complaint database and saw that the Sears Service Center in Richmond has 3 complaints and all 3 were eventually resolved in some way, so it might be worth filing a complaint.

You could also try an EECB using Sears’ executive customer service contact info. Anyone else have advice for Sapna?

Office of Consumer Affairs [Commonwealth of Virginia]
(Photo:theogeo)

Comments

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  1. FLConsumer says:

    Wow, this is almost as bad as Comcast. Keep trying Sears! You can beat Comcast at their own game of “Who can suck the worst.” Only problem is that Sears isn’t a monopoly, so going out of business will be their final prize.

  2. famboozled says:

    Sears here has been running TV spots for toasters, blender and other small appliances. They are really hitting design and quality as bullet points/focus of ad.

    They have also been pushing the fact that they have a full five year warranty.

    I cannot help but wonder if Sears would not be in the situation it is in if they had treated thier customers like this all along.

    They have trashed thier reputation and now are trying to vindicate themselves.

    Sears, if you are listenting: Do something unusual- sell only quality goods at reasonable margins with a straighforward warranty, treat you employees like family and sucess will come. America is hungry for honesty and quality american made goods.

    Your lawn tractors were legendary- now they are junk
    You appliances- the same thing.

    I for one will pay much more if I know you are going to back what you sell.

    If not, I hope your have pre-need arrangements made and own the niche next to Montgomery-Ward. Remember them? You are following in thier footsteps.

    A concerned american consumer and former shareholder.

  3. SpecialEd says:

    I made the mistake of calling Sears to look at my washer once. I’ll never do it again. I don’t shop at Sears anymore because of their crappy service. Sears profits were down 99% last quarter. They should be out of business soon. 8-(

  4. crnk says:

    Is this a court case or a rant?
    If this is negligence, as you’ve suggested, then you should have someone else perform the work instead, and then take the issue to court. You should be able to recover damages.

    Is installing something slightly wrong negligence? I’m not totally sure myself, but I’d say you have a good argument, since you had to trust the professional opinion of the team that installed it.
    Even if so, I don’t think you’d get full repair of your floor’s water damage because you allowed it to sit that long while knowing the damage it could cause (contributory liability).

  5. SaveMeJeebus says:

    If Sears goes out of business where will we buy mom jeans?

    I ended up just tossing a Craftsman lawnmower after it needed repairs within warranty. The grass wasn’t getting any shorter while I waited around. Last time I went in the joint I bought a drill bit and was asked three times if I wanted to put it on a new Sears card. For three dollars? Come on now.

  6. johnnyboi1016 says:

    Take them to small claims…

  7. ChicagoAndy says:

    File a claim with your insurance company (you DO have insurance, right?), and during that claim process your insurer will ask if there’s anyone that they can hold responsible. Make sure they understand that Sears should be held responsible.

    You get your floors fixed, and Sears pays for it.

    _Am

  8. llcooljabe says:

    @johnnyboi1016:

    Agreed. Get 3 or 4 estimates for repairs to your home and take them to small claims court, suing for the average.

  9. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @crnk: Even if so, I don’t think you’d get full repair of your floor’s water damage because you allowed it to sit that long while knowing the damage it could cause (contributory liability).

    He/she did NOT simply allow it to sit; Sapna called Sears numerous times starting as soon as the problem occurred and made appointments that Sears failed to keep. When the appointments were kept, the first time the tech said “it must have fixed itself.” Yeah, because the new Harry Potter Washers can just do that. The second time, “Oh, I can’t do it myself, we’ll have to reschedule and bring a second tech.”

    Sapna did what was expected of him/her. Sears shoddy service is the reason the floor is damaged, plain and simple.

  10. ColoradoShark says:

    @chicagoandy: Do not file a claim with insurance. They’ll jack your rates just for calling and asking if it is covered because they now consider you more risky. Then the information will be filed in the “CLUE” database. You’ll wind up behind monetarily in total even if they pay the relatively small claim.

  11. finite_elephant says:

    @chicagoandy: and use the word “subrogate” in the first sentence to the adjuster.

  12. Elle Rayne says:

    “I called customer care again and was told that the appointment was switched until next morning (even though nobody ever bothered to call me to ask if this was ok).”

    I hate it when that happens. I had Internet issues at my apartment for three months, with both me and the property manager calling Mediacom, and then they’d come without calling, and if I wasn’t home they’d cancel the appointment and still bill the property manager. The whole thing was a nightmare. Luckily, after I submitted a couple of complaints online, they removed the charges.

  13. kc2idf says:

    Just sue them. Include the cost of repairing your floor, and something for the inconvenience you have suffered.

  14. morethanmotion says:

    Sears is a joke. i bought a brand new Kenmore washer and dryer from them a few years ago and had their technicians come install them. They came on time and were efficient in setting up the washer and dryer. I know next to nothing about washer and dryer installation so when they told me they were done i specifically asked “So it’s ok for me to do laundry in them now?” to which i was told “yes, you can go ahead and use them right away”. What they forgot to tell me was that they actually didn’t “install” them so much as “set” them in the laundry closet without hooking up the hose that drains the water. I had a lovely lake in my laundry room and kitchen, all over my hardwood floors. Thanks Sears, i’ll never buy anything from you again.

  15. Whoyaa says:

    Stick with the top loading washing machines. Front loaders cause a lot of problems, and produce big repair bills. They also require special detergent for lower suds, which costs more.

  16. kingoftheroad40 says:

    The new h.e. agitator free washer is junk wed.12-13 i have a appointment for mine for the fifth time in one year the 4 repair lemon replacement is only if they replace a part 4 times not adjust only replace and of course it wont mess up when the tech. is here had 2 mother boards one came dead out of the box.
    I was fooled by the long reputation they had for good appliances not anymore is Kenmore still whirlpool???

  17. MustyBuckets says:

    @Whoyaa: Front loaders do cost more to purchase, but they use less water, and you do not need to purchase special detergent for it, you can simply use much less of regular detergent (about a quarter of what you would use in a standard washer for the same load size), which makes regular detergent last much longer. If you buy a cheap front loader, you will have problems with it, but buying something after a little research, and you won’t have any more problems with them than you would with a standard unit.

    Also, I’d like to point out that there has yet to be an ‘above and beyond’ story for any big chain store relating to appliances. You can save money and get much better service from a independent retailer. Sears, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes aren’t the only game in town.

  18. MustyBuckets says:

    @kingoftheroad40: Kenmore was never always whirlpool. Kenmore is a combination of Whirlpool, Samsung, LG, GE, Frigidaire, ect. I’ve heard of problems with certain models of laundry that one company would replace at no charge to the customer, and then have the same Kenmore version still charge the customer for the repairs due to faulty design.

  19. coren says:

    Talk about ridiculous. I don’t think you can be held liable because you did absolutely everything in your power short of trying to fix it yourself (which you aren’t certified/trained to do). Not only that, but it could have been fixed the first time, back in October, with little to no damage to you, which if anything would only serve to increase Sears’ blame in this situation. Don’t let them get away with blowing you off on this one, a faulty installation is a faulty installation. Even if it was “too long ago” (seriously, a little more than a year is “too long”?) You’ve got a five year warranty, and I think that’s gonna be to your benefit in trying to squeeze the damages from Sears.

  20. bombaxstar says:

    Sears home service technicians suck.

    Film at eleven.

  21. f3rg says:

    Buy a wrench and tighten the hoses yourself. This is so completely ridiculous. It does NOT take a master plumber to make a quick run to Home Depot or Lowes (or Wal-Mart if that’s all you have), pick up a new hose, and do the swap. A large set of pliers would cost $15 and you’d have them for countless chores later on.

    I rent, and my stacked washer/dryer are furnished by the management. I have absolutely NO duty to maintain or repair them. However, last summer I noticed humidity in the closet where they’re kept. I quickly discovered the dryer vent had popped off (the installers had used duct tape instead of a clamp to attach it to the dryer). Instead of whining or calling management, I ran to HD, bought a clamp, then spent quite a bit of my own time cramming myself back into the closet and doing the quicky repair myself.

    This sob story reminds me of the guy who posted a few months back about a PC repair store ruining his motherboard while installing RAM (or whatever the case) when he was clearly capable of doing the work himself.

    You have no sympathy from me. And your father isn’t much of a role model, either.

  22. Whoyaa says:

    @Mustybuckets: Sure, front loaders use less water, but will the savings outweigh the higher cost for the machine? And how about repairs? What do you think you would save over a year, about $50-$100 on the water bill? That isn’t a whole lot.

  23. crnk says:

    @aaron8301:
    Excuse me? As quoted from the write up:
    “But when they moved it out, there was still water on the floor, and my floor was completely damaged (after having water sit there for over a month because of their repeated failures)”
    The water was just “simply allowed to sit”, as you might say. And, as my original statements pointed out, allowing the water to sit would be contributing to the damage caused in a pretty significant way.

  24. crnk says:

    @kc2idf:
    Thats just a typical dumb american attitude. As I stated in a previous post–you MIGHT be able to get SOME damage to the floor covered, but it probably won’t be much.
    Suing for “inconvenience suffered” is just a dumb way for greedy bastards like you to try to get a quick buck off someone. I’d assume you think the OP needs to recover damages for emotional distress and the like, too.

  25. MustyBuckets says:

    @Whoyaa: For a machine that lasts only 10 years, it repays the cost. Maintance and repair issues don’t crop up any more than standard machines.
    The only major issue I’ve seen across the board on front loaders is that they tend to vibrate heavily if not placed on a solid floor. That isn’t an issue with the machines, mind you.

  26. wsmit10 says:

    Sears has failed me miserably on my very expensive Kenmore Elite 3t washer machine. This thing has flooded my laundry room and covered my clothing with rubber from ripped seals at least 5 times over the last 3 years. Only now are they agreeing to finally replace it but with a red, white or blue one that does not match my very expensive Kenmore Elite dryer.

    I spoke to an extremely rude representative at their “One Source” customer service department and vowed to speak to the president of Sears. Does anyone have his number??

    I recently called the executive customer service number I found on this site. I hope it helps.

    I cannot believe that Sears will not stand by their products. I am never going to buy an appliance from Sears again.

    • supershopper says:

      I’ve had poor results from Sears over the years, so this doesn’t surprise me! A friend of mine bought a washer and dryer from Sears, they installed it, went to do a load of clothes….the installers didn’t hook up the drain hose, so her entire finished basement was full of soaps suds!