Need A $34.95 Warranty Covered Part? That'll be $65 For The Useless Service Call

Dear Mr. Lewis,

I’m sure you are quite busy so I would like to thank you now for taking the time to address the concerns of a long time Sears customer. I’ll give you a brief explanation of my problem followed by a more detailed version of my experience if you are interested.

Basically, Sears won’t replace a warrantied $34.95 part without paying a minimum of $65.00 for a service call, “it’s policy”. I know what part is broken and would simply like to exchange it for a working part. It will take me less then a minute to take off the bad part and replace it with the new one.

If you could help me out I would be most appreciative. Please see my contact information at the end of this letter. Here’s the full version…

(person information redacted)

Yesterday (10.03.07) I tried to get a replacement part for a warrantied Craftsman garage door opener. I started by going to a nearby Sears Service Center as stated in the warranty. The representative there informed me that since it was more then ninety days after the date of the purchase I would have to have a service technician come to my house and diagnose the problem. Also, I would have to pay for the labor, a minimum of $65.00. I told him that wouldn’t be necessary since I brought the defective part in with me. He then informed me that I’m not capable of diagnosing the problem (I was capable of installing the opener myself) and could not get a warranty replacement without the service call.

I knew then that I would be wasting my breath, but I felt the need to explain to him how I did manage to diagnose the problem.

The garage door would not go down and the light on one of the safety sensors was out. I checked the wiring and alignment and everything looked fine. I swapped the sensors and the same one still did not light up. I was pretty sure by now what the problem was. As it happens, my neighbor came over and said he had the same type of opener. We took one of his sensors, replaced it with mine, and the garage door worked. He tried mine on his door and it didn’t work. We both came to the same conclusion, the sensor was bad.

After relating my story to the Sears representative he again informed me that Sears “policy” requires a service call or I could simply purchase the part for $34.95 plus tax. I told him the Sears “policy” basically made the warranty worthless. He gave me a very pleasant smile. He had nothing else to say so I thanked him for his time and let him know I would call Sears, I’m sure they would understand and could help me. He smiled pleasantly again.

Once home I called the Sears Parts & Repair Center Phone number from the back of the owner’s manual. After giving the representative my phone number, name, and address so she could better help me, I explained my problem. I was told I hadn’t purchased a warranty for the garage door opener. I then explained that I was looking at the warranty in the manual right then. After putting me on hold for a few minutes she came back and said she could help me. I already felt better. I gave her the part number, she confirmed that it was a sensor and then told me she could not order it for me. I needed a service technician to diagnose the problem. “It’s policy.” I explained how that made the warranty worthless and there was silence. I’m sure she was smiling pleasantly.

After she offered to sell me the sensor kit (and recommended buying some chain lube at the same time) I asked if I could talk to a supervisor. I mentioned how the supervisors where I work have the authority to override problems like this where the policy obviously doesn’t apply. I was told there were no supervisors and they wouldn’t be able to override the computer anyway. I asked who else I could talk to about my problem and was transferred to customer relations.

That sounded good. These have to be the people that keeps Sears customers happy and coming back to make more purchases, like the Kenmore washer and dryer I own. And like the Kenmore dishwasher I purchased two years ago. Not to mention the Kenmore refrigerator or the Kenmore oven/stove I purchased last month. These people will take care of me.

I gave the customer relations representative my phone number, name, and address so he could better help me. I gave my phone number, name, and address to the next twelve representatives from customer relations, home service, and parts so they could better help me.

I was sure I was finally getting somewhere when the final representative (#14) gave me the number to Sears Rapid Resolutions (800-215-9169). “Rapid” means only waiting five minutes on hold before giving the representative the information needed to better help me. “Resolutions” means resolved as far as Sears is concerned. I would have a technician come to my home and I would pay at least $65.00 for the labor.

I was exhausted, over a hour and a half on the phone. I was angry. I was upset. I was defeated.

Mr Lewis, I’m still upset, but have decided to give Sears one more chance to keep a customer happy. Please help me resolve this matter in a logical manner. Please don’t make me pay $65.00 for a $34.95 part. Please don’t make me pay $34.95 (plus tax) for a warrantied part. Please override the Sears “policy”.

Thank you once again for your time and consideration,

Dale Reid

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P.S. I’ve included a copy of this letter to “The Consumerist” blog. They care and report on how consumers are treated and they really do like to hear about positive consumer experiences. I hope I can pass on good news to them.

What a ripoff. Just give the guy the damn part. Who cares if the service call is “policy.” Policy! Policy! Like it’s a magic word that makes any problem cease to have validity. Oh, I’m sorry, that’s our we-get-to-spit-in-your-eye policy. Didn’t you read the sign? This policy is stupid and its screwing Dale. Dale’s also has a policy. It’s called, “You Don’t Screw Dale.”

Dale sent this to CEO Aylwin B. Lewis at alewis1@searshc.com. He says if it bounces back, he’ll try calling (847)-286-2500 and asking for the office of Mr. Lewis. If that fails, maybe he’ll try faxing them to death.