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)