Friday, May 2, 2008

Why I'll never give Sears another dime of my money

Recently my Jenn-Air refrigerator, that I purchased from Sears, stopped cooling. Naturally I call Sears' repair line. The representative that answered the phone informed me that the warranty on my refrigerator that was purchased at the beginning of 2005 was expired. BUT, they had a great deal for me; if I purchase their extended warranty for $250 + tax, they would cover all costs of repair AND give me additional warranty coverage for 1 year.

This sounds too good be be true, but knowing that the costs would easily start at $300 and go up from there, I was convinced this was the right choice. I was even more convinced when he told me I had 60 days to change my mind. So I whip out the credit card and happily pay $272 and schedule service for Monday morning.

Bright and early Monday morning a very pleasant service guy and his trainee show up. They quickly deduce that the problem is my compressor and inform me they will have to order the part and that it won't arrive until Thursday But they have good won't cost me a thing!!! (except the $272 I think to myself, but it could be worse...right?)

Tuesday evening, I receive a phone call from Sears. "Has the part arrived?", they ask. "I don't know, I'm just pulling up to the house, but if it has can you come Wednesday?", I inquire. "I'm sorry, but we have no openings then, it will have to be Thursday", she says.

Thursday morning arrives and I'm at work when I take a 5 minute bathroom break. When I return to my desk my co-workers inform me that my cell phone was ringing. I return the call to Sears repair center. "Mr. Smith, we need to reschedule your service for tomorrow." I ask why and I'm informed that the service tech tried to call me and since I missed his call I have been booted off the schedule. As you can guess I wasn't too happy and asked them to see if they could find a way to fit me in later today and was told they would look into it. This was around 10am. Shortly after noon I call back and ask for a supervisor who promises me she will get a message to the dispatcher.

By 5:30 I'm pretty pissed and I kind of suspect what will happen next. I call in and as I suspected I'm informed that if I want service it will no longer be Friday, but it will be Saturday. "SATURDAY?!?!?!?!?! WHAT HAPPENED TO FRIDAY?!?!?!" Remember, I have not had a working refrigerator since Thursday of last week. I ask for a supervisor, this takes several minutes of being on hold before I get transferred to a ringing line that eventually goes dead.

Now I'm about to drive home take that compressor to the closest Sears and throw it through the window! I call back again and ask for a local representative in hopes that I'd get close enough to someone who could make some changes to the schedule to fit me in. I get a girl in Farmer's Branch and I think "Great! A local girl will surely help me!" I'm then informed that since I didn't make a decision earlier in the day to accept Friday, that I was left with Saturday. So now it's my fault. I don't recall telling anyone NOT to schedule Friday and to wait, I just asked them to see if there was any way to fit me in Today.

So, at this point I can safely say that Sears has some seriously bad policies when it comes to repairs and customer service. How could they boot me off the schedule after missing a phone call while in the bathroom? How could they let an already inconvenienced customer be further inconvenienced by letting the schedule slip another day? But wait, it's not over. There's more....

I'm so pissed at this point that I'm looking for ways to complain about Sears online, to their customer service, perhaps their CEO. While online I run across something that makes me decide to visit the Jenn-Air website. There I run across a link to chat live with a support representative. Here's the Reader's Digest version:

Lisa G: Hi, my name is Lisa G. How may I help you?
You: I have a refrigerator and I want to know that the warranty term on the compressor is?
Lisa G: The appliance appears to have been purchased Jan 2005 and there is a warranty on the sealed system which includes the compressor for parts and installation labor for 5 years of date of purchase.
You: wow, Sears is charging me for a $250 extended warranty to repair it. How should I handle this?
Lisa G: You will need to contact another service company.
You: So Sears cannot handle your warranty repair?
Lisa G: Sears is a separate entity and they do not honor the 5 year warranty.
Lisa G: We apologize
You: so it should cost me nothing to repair...correct?
Lisa G: The only thing you would have to pay for if it is not apart of the warranty
You: ok...thank you

WOW, I AM BLOWN AWAY! Sears basically lied to me. Sure, part of the warranty that covers certain things has expired, but the major system components are covered for 5 years. Sears completely failed to tell me this. NO, Sears LIED and told me I had NO warranty.

So, while I have Sears on one phone, on the other phone I dial an authorized service center suggested by Lisa G during our chat. I tell Sears I want a full refund and I want my extended warranty cancelled. They tell me they can't while a service call is scheduled. "So cancel it!" While Sears has me on hold, the service rep in my other ear happily schedules a service call for the next day. She even tells me "Keep the part, our service tech will make some calls and perhaps may be able to use that part from Sears for you." YES!!! THIS IS GOOD SERVICE!

To my surprise, the Sears rep comes back on the phone and informs me that within 72 hours I will receive a $272 credit on my credit card and that the service appointment has been cancelled. Wow, that was easier than I expected.

So despite the somewhat positive outcome, I can honestly say that Sears is no longer the great customer service oriented company that I knew as a child; the one that always did a good job on my parents appliances. Instead they have become a company of consumer unfriendly policies and procedures that do nothing to make sure the customer is taken care of. And this is why they will never receive another dime from me.

Monday, March 17, 2008

iPhone Enterprise Beta Program

I guess you could say that Apple has definitely caught my attention with their latest announcements. One detail that particularly interested me was the opportunity for Enterprise IT Managers to apply for the iPhone Enterprise Beta Program. This is a chance for some of us to get our grubby paws on the new ActiveSync applications for the iPhone and run it through the wringer. I've applied, but I'm not sure my organization is large enough. I'll be sure to let you guys know if I get approved.

Here is a more complete list of the features that will be included in the iPhone 2.0 software beta:
Push email
Push contacts
Push calendar
Global Address List
Certificates and Identities
Enforced security policies
More VPN protocols
Device configuration
Remote wipe

Here are the requirements to qualify for the beta:
A team of no more than five people to test the iPhone 2.0 software beta
One team member with administrative access to your IT infrastructure
A designated technical lead to act as a primary contact for Apple
All team members to read and accept the terms of the Apple Customer Seed and Confidentiality Agreement
A Mac computer using Mac OS X Leopard v10.5.2 or later
Up to five iPhones that are dedicated to testing the software and assigned to individual team members

So if any of you are Sys Admins, hurry up and apply!!!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

iPhone v2.0....almost there????

Okay, it's time to revisit my previous iPhone rant. As I said back in October, I feel like the wise thing to do is wait for the next version of the iPhone. This past week Apple has done a great job of answering a few of my sticking points. If you haven't seen the news, here are the major announcements Apple made this past week.

ActiveSync support
This is the biggie for me. Without ActiveSync, the iPhone is not a manageable Enterprise device. Sure, it's cool for the average Joe that wants to check his gmail account, but for sys admins it's just not easy to manage a large deployment without using ActiveSync. Most importantly will be the ability to remotely wipe the device in case of theft/loss. Included would be features such as Push e-mail, contacts, Global Address List, Cisco IPSec VPN, and authentication via certificate. Additionally there is talk of support from This is big for my organization.

iPhone SDK (Software Development Kit)
While I'm not too thrilled with the way Apple is implementing this one, I am encouraged overall. Back in the day, Palm's biggest draw was the community of developers that had built very useful applications for the Palm platform. One of the best examples I can think of is epocrates which was and still is used by many of my friends in the medical field. This was very difficult for Microsoft to overcome, but they did eventually catch up and now have a very active community of developers. Want to see weather on your phone? There are tons of options available and many are free. But yes, the iPhone has already done this. But what if you want to see it presented in a different manner or if you want an application to track your workouts? Sorry, you are stuck with what Apple provided or having to go to a website.....until now.

With the release of the SDK developers will now be able to write applications for the iPhone. My only issue is that the only way to get these applications will be through the iPhone App Store which will take 30% of the developers money. Wow, and Steve Jobs had the nerve to say that the App Store will not be a source of income for Apple....yeah right. I think this will slow down the adoption rate of developers wanting to create apps for the iPhone. But hey, its something and at least they have the option of giving their app away for free if they choose to do so.

While it's not clear to me when ActiveSync support will be offered, it is clear when we will see apps via the App Store. In June, Apple will release version 2.0 of the iPhone software. The App Store will be included in this release. Developers are able to download the SDK now to get their apps ready for a June launch.

YEAH!!! The iPhone now has 2x the storage of my nano. (For $500...ONLY 16GB?? SERIOUSLY??)

3G iPhone???
So what about those other complaints I had back in October???? Good question. Apple made no mention of a 3G iPhone this week. The consensus in the tech community seems to be that the 3G iPhone will be released at the same time of the v2.0 software. If this is true, I may just have a shiny new iPhone in June.

Bluetooth Voice Dialing
But the one thing that continues to bug me is the lack of bluetooth voice dialing support and still no mention of it from Apple that I've seen. I recently switched from a Motorola Q to a Samsung i760 and then to an HTC Titan (Verizon xv6800.) Without actual buttons to dial on the Titan, I'm finding myself fumbling to call people. I have improved this a bit by installing the HTC Home app and its people tab, but I'm still constantly fumbling. I've tested a few BT headsets and voice dialing makes all the difference in the world. The 3G iPhone better include BT dialing or I will be one unhappy geek.

So now let's talk GPS. Again, still no mention of it that I've seen. If Apple fails to deliver this feature, I feel they will just be cheating their customers. As of the end of 2007, GPS is almost expected in $400+ phones. Of course Apple will probably expect their branding and popularity to carry them through missing such a key feature.....and they'll probably be right. Let's hope Apple does right by their customers and finds a way to include GPS.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Chinese IQ test for job applicants

My co-workers sent this to me and told me I had 15 minutes or I was fired. I'm ashamed to admit that it took me 13 minutes. My old brain just isn't as nimble as it used to be. Apparently I get to keep my job though. LOL