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