No, Sears, That’s Okay, We Didn’t Really Need A Working Refrigerator

Kristina’s Sears misadventure began with an icemaker. She lives with her aunt, and the icemaker/water spout on the refrigerator started leaking. The aunt decided to replace the appliance, so they headed to Sears. There they found a lovely Samsung fridge marked down on clearance. Why was it on clearance? Oh, you see, another customer had ordered it, then changed their mind. But it was still a new appliance purchase from Sears’ point of view, and would be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. It was when the fridge was DOA that everything began to go horribly wrong.

A week later, the delivery team showed up with the new Samsung. “First off,” Kristina wrote in her blog post about this fiasco, “there is a spot about an inch around where it’s been scuffed and the enamel has come off. This wasn’t visible at the store, and it wasn’t noted in the sales rep’s paperwork. Luckily, it was on the right side, against the wall, so not REALLY a big deal. Whatever.”

The installers didn’t bring a compression valve, so the water line couldn’t be hooked up to the fridge. They could live without an icemaker for a little while longer. The bigger problem was that the refrigerator didn’t get, strictly speaking, cold.

They plug it in, push it back into the little nook, and assure us that it’ll be to temp in a couple of hours. They go even further, and tell us to go ahead and put our food in it because “that will make it cool down faster.” We questioned that, but the guy swore that’s what his boss always tells them to say, and “he’s been doing this for over 13 years, so he knows what he’s talking about.”

And then they leave. They didn’t even bother to level it. In the meantime, our old (still working) fridge was hauled away.

Four hours later, and the temperature in the new fridge hadn’t dropped a single degree… both freezer and refrigerator were registering at 80 degrees. I try to adjust the temp, and it doesn’t work. We figure out that it’s still in demo mode, so I look up how to switch it in the manual. Try it, and no dice.

I call customer service, and end up talking to two different people, one of which walks me through the same steps, and then has me unplug it, wait, and plug it back in to see if it would reset itself. Still nothing, so they transfer me to a 3rd person, who tells me they will contact the delivery guys to come back out SAME DAY.

Instead, around 6pm, we get an automated phone call from the delivery company, saying they’d be here between 11am-1pm today.

So I call customer service again, and end up talking to another person who can’t get hold of anyone at the store, and can’t help me. At this point, my aunt is frustrated and upset, and I’m pissed. So I drive out to the store (20 minute drive, each way) to talk to the store manager.

They gave me a loaner fridge, dorm size, and helped me schedule for a technician to come out on Tuesday to try to repair the fridge. She also gives me a number to call, to try and get reimbursement for the food we’ve lost, because it sat out for 6+ hours with no refrigeration. That number ended up going to the Sears Delivery hotline… where the REAL fun begins.

Yes, quite fun. A series of misdirected calls brought Kristina to the “Escalations” line. Well, that sounds promising. A competent-sounding representative told her that the best option would be a replacement fridge. Yay! Here’s the catch, though: the clearance Samsung they bought cost $899. Sears wouldn’t replace a clearance fridge with a full-price one, and the price difference was $500. Their choices were to pay the $500, or have the defective fridge picked up and wait for a refund check to show up.

She posted a Paragraph of Rage on Sears’ Facebook page. The social media representative on duty promised her a response that day. She didn’t get one. The next day, she received three separate e-mails from three separate case managers in the Sears executive offices who proceeded to not help her when she contacted them back. That was helpful.

Sure, that happened over the weekend, but it doesn’t sound like Sears is about to cover the $500 price difference or suddenly have effective customer service anytime soon. For her part, Kristina has given up:

In the meantime, we’ve already ordered a new refrigerator from a local retailer, so the only “compensation” Sears can really offer is to expedite the delivery of our refund check (overnight would be good), and maybe throw in some money for the food. I’m not gonna hold my breath.

Having worked in customer service and retail, I find much fault with Sears customer service practices. Believe it or not, I actually hate to cause a fuss, but I feel it’s my duty to spread the word about how absolutely miserable this experience has been so maybe others can avoid the same troubles by going elsewhere.

The Sears Refrigerator Fiasco [Molly in Training]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Coffee says:

    Going to Sears to buy an appliance is like smoking a pack a day for 30 years…you tell yourself that sure, cancer happens to other people, but I’m the hero of my own story, and that can’t possibly happen to me…no way, no how. Everyone else, maybe, but I’ll be fine.

    • zumdish says:

      I always suggest checking out a small local dealer. I’ve been buying almost all of my appliances this way for many years now with excellent service and prices as good and sometimes a little better than the national stores. In a dozen major appliance buys I had one problem and it was nice being able to deal with the company owner who went out of his way to make me happy.

      • dorianh49 says:

        “I always suggest checking out a small local dealer.”

        Replying to Coffee, I thought you were about to recommend some special, non-cancer-causing cigarettes, or something ;)

  2. DaveInBillsburg says:

    A. Duh, it’s Sears and 2. while they mishandled the customer service end, they did offer her a refund.

    I don’t expect them to replace it with a more expensive model, and I hope the OP didn’t either. You paid $899 for the fridge, they don’t have another clearance model ( the one the OP bought was probably returned because it didn’t work) at the same price so the best they can do is offer you a model at the same price or pay more for one that is new and not on clearance.

    • GMFish says:

      I agree. She bought a fridge. It didn’t work. Sears offered a refund. She unreasonably wanted $500 from Sears, which was reasonably refused.

      Sure, the fridge should have worked. But I don’t see a problem here.

      • Scooter McGee says:

        Other than having to wait for a refund check to arrive in the mail while she’s out the additional for a replacement fridge? Knowing Sears, they probably won’t ever mail the check.

      • Scooter McGee says:

        Consumerist needs an edit option…I don’t feel she should have been given a more expensive fridge, but waiting for a mailed refund when she probably paid much faster than that is not a great option.

        • DaveInBillsburg says:

          Didn’t read the blog post (blocked where I work) but I’m assuming they paid either cash or check which is why they would get a refund check from Sears. I think that is their policy for those type of payment at a high dollar amount.

  3. kevinroyalty says:

    apparently the OP has never visited here and read up on the Sears horror stories.

    • George4478 says:

      If you read the stories here you know there is no store you should ever buy anything from.

      • zumdish says:

        Some people do post “I never had a problem with X”, for example I’ve had good luck with Best Buy – but I still make sure I’m very careful. That said, I do get the impression Sears has the lowest rate of people defending them.

  4. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Blargh. My old Admiral fridge (came with the house) quit recently. Since I’m not working, my mom helped me buy a new one. My dad mentioned the word “Sears” and I was very quick to say “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!”

    I got a plain-Jane top freezer basic Frigidaire from Lowes and it’s working just fine. Delivery was fast and professional. I think the fancier fridges are more likely to have problems.

    • Captain Spock says:

      1% wise, I would love to have a water spout and ice maker on the front… 99% wise (where we cant afford to fix things all the time) I would rather have at best, an Ice maker that dumps into a bucket inside the freezer, or at worst, just ice trays.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      Yep – bought a 20 CF Whirlpool from Sam’s Club when we moved into our first house in 03, still works like a champ. I can set the temp setting at 2 for the fridge and 3 for the freezer and everything stays nice and cold and it doesn’t run as much. Also have a top load washer I bought in 1996 when I lived in a condo that had washer/dryer hookups, that runs great too, and with three kids it gets a lot of use.

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      My 1994 Amana is starting to do weird things, like a lot of condensation in the fridge part even though the humidity control is on, but the food is still cold and the frozen food is still frozen. When it goes, I’m getting another plain fridge – no icemaker or water spout. No clock or any unnecessary electronics. You guys are right – extra fancy stuff is just more stuff to go bad or wrong.

      The only thing I really want is adjustable glass shelves again, as it is very easy to find stuff.

      • RandomLetters says:

        Check the seal around the door for any cracks or gaps. That could be allowing warm air in to make the condensation you’re noticing. There might be options for fixing it if there is.

  5. do-it-myself says:

    “The aunt decided to replace the appliance, so they headed to Sears.”

    Here’s where the mistake was made. Do their few advertisements hold subliminal messages or something?

    It’s interesting how these stories still happen. They come here through the power of Google or Consumer Reports as a last resort of sorts. They should have been reading here in the first place and that unfortunate series of events never would have occurred.

    • DaveInBillsburg says:

      I hit Consumer Reports online to read the latest issue, right on their home page they have Refrigerator buying guide video. I haven’t watched, but the first tip should be “Stay away from Sears”

      • scoosdad says:

        As a longtime subscriber, I’m disappointed that Consumer Reports usually avoids any mention of customer service hassles in any of the products they review, and as a result, Sears Kenmore appliances usually show up pretty far up the ratings charts (must be the ones that actually got delivered and worked). Sad, really, because from the ratings, if you can get a working one and get it delivered and installed correctly, then I think Sears wouldn’t have such a bad reputation here.

        Maybe instead of sending out their secret shoppers and then picking up the appliances themselves at the Sears warehouse, Consumer Reports ought to order them online and have Sears deliver them to a random employee’s home for installation and see what often happens in the real world.

  6. Smiling says:

    I don’t really see what Sears did that was horribly wrong. They did not know the fridge did not work. They offered a refund. The only other thing I could see them offering is to replace the food. I certainly don’t think it is reasonable to expect them to eat the cost of a more expensive fridge.

    • Snullbug says:

      “They did not know the fridge did not work.”
      Dubious at best – marked down because “another customer had ordered it, then changed their mind”. Changed their mind after delivery and they found it didn’t work most likely. When I saw the flaw in the enamel I would have had the delivery guys take it straight back to the store. Sears had a turkey on their hands and hoped they could unload it. Sears has become what Best Buy has been for years, a place to gamble with odds only slightly better than Las Vegas. Can’t afford to lose? Don’t shop there.

    • evilpete says:

      Maybe she should written “BROKEN” in marker on the back of the fridge

  7. jmgadget says:

    So i went to the Sears Facebook page: WOW the stories that are there about sears and how they are horrible and the admins constantly commenting with the same lines over and over again. They clearly don’t care, and they don’t even fix the problems their either if you watch the comments.

    Some of the best reads I have had in a while.

    • Snullbug says:

      Thanks jmgadget, an interesting read indeed. Customer service means a canned reply with absolutely no actual resolution. “We’ll refer you to a case manager to keep you quiet while we try to wear you down so you’ll leave us alone.”

  8. sparc says:

    she got a refund in a resonable time and compensated for food losses. That’s pretty good.

    It’s a clearance item, so you’re limited by what you bought. I’d call it a wash since you already made arrangements for a different fridge.

    • jmgadget says:

      Did you read the article? she has no refund yet and has not been compensated for food losses. And why should she be limited by a clearance item when she was told it was brand new and yet it still does not work, especially if they still sell the same model, thats not clearance.

  9. evilpete says:

    Every time I have posted a complaint or disappointment on a company facebook page , the company just deletes it

    • 180CS says:

      That’s why I don’t post on the comapnies page. I post on their competitors page about what a horrible experience I had with the other company, and make sure to tag the offending company. Sure, they can untag, but they can’t remove the bad PR. I’ve never had a competing company remove a post of me telling them about how bad their competitors are.

      If I’m really feeling claws out, I post bad reviews on google and amazon, making sure to link a competing product, and then get some of my friends to upvote my review.

  10. Aquabatx says:

    I think some are missing some of the finer points.
    Yes they got a refund offer, but it wouldn’t be for another week or two, and still it’s not been received.

    They weren’t asking for an more expensive model, it was the same model, that cost Sears the same amount as the defective one when they bought it. They could just swap it and make a claim to Samsung for the defective model, so it would be a wash for them.

    • Aquabatx says:

      And food compensation was discussed, but has not been delivered at all yet. That’s a buck they keep trying to pass along, only to get bounced back and forth about it.

  11. balderdashed says:

    Some Kenmore appliances are still top-rated and decent values. So I’d understand if someone had done their homework, decided on a particular Kenmore model, and ended up at Sears (the only place that sells it). But why in the world buy a Samsung at Sears? Samsung is one of the most widely available brands, and one could almost certainly get a better deal and better service at another retailer — almost any other retailer. (I happened to buy my Samsung refrigerator at Lowes, best price at the time.)

  12. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I can’t imagine having a working fridge hauled away… Maybe in an apartment with really limited space, but that is worth real cash on Craigslist.

    Putting the food in DOES seem like it would cool it faster. It’s the same concept as a full fridge being more efficient. Less volume and already cold food to cool the air.

    BUT, a fridge should be blowing cold air around the inside vents, or it’s not working.

    • DarkPookie says:

      To answer the question about having it hauled away – it was hauled away by a friend of my aunt, who is going to put tile down in exchange. Labor, instead of cash.

    • lindestar says:

      I didn’t have the old refrigerator “hauled” away per se. I had already sold it to a friend and when the delivery company brought the new one, my friend took the old refrigerator away.

  13. 180CS says:

    To the couple people who where trying to say sears isn’t that bad of a place to shop, and wondering why it was getting so much hate from us consumerists a couple days ago on another article about them?