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.