Will Never Buy Appliances or Extended Warranties From Sear's Again
PORTLAND, OREGON -- It all began with a purchase of an Electrolux induction range in July 2011. Induction ranges were new on the market in the United States, so they were expensive and did not have a lot of history or reviews. I loved this particular range because of the induction feature as well as the dehydrator, convection, slow cooker, perfect turkey, and bread proofing options in the oven. It was all electronic and top of the line of non-professional ranges at the cost of $3200.00. I never buy extended warranties, but we decided to do so on this appliance because it was so new on the market, and it was all electronic. I was also told by either the person who sold me the range or one of the customer service representatives on the phone along the way that a person who specialized in repairing Electrolux ranges (instead of a standard Sear's repair man) would need to be the one to work on the range in the case of any problems.
The range functioned beautifully until July 2013. An error code of "E 15" would flash on the control panel that ran the burners, and it would spontaneously and erratically beep this error code with no real rhyme or reason. You couldn't turn off the error code, and the range would function fine sometimes when it would beep, and other times, the burners would freeze up; you couldn't turn them on at all. I called the customer repair service line to get help. I was told to go out in my garage and switch the breaker on and off, and that seemed to correct the problem and render the burners functional again. They would be fine for no determined length of time, and then it would start beeping again and the burners may or may not work again. There was no pattern. We would go and switch the breaker on and off whenever needed for a few weeks, and then, all of sudden, the error code just stopped. We then didn't have any problem with it for a couple more months until late September. I finally called Sear's back, and I told them that I was having this same error code reoccur with the same types of problems as outlined above. I told them that I had already been told to turn the breaker on and off, and that I just wanted someone to come out to the house to look at the range itself.
They told me it would take 5 days to have someone to come out and look at my range. Mind you, I did pay for an Extended Service Warranty. I'm not just some Joe Shmoe who didn't pay for an extended service warranty who is calling in to get repairs done on an appliance. I would think when someone dishes out hundreds of dollars for an extended service warranty, that the company would address those customers' services needs with urgency, and with the #1 rule of quality customer service, "The customer is always right." Then, when they sent someone out, the repair person plugged the diagnostic computer into the range, and announced, "With this error code, it's suggested that we turn the breaker on and off." I announced we already knew that and did that. The repair man and the people on the other end of the phone line seemed fairly clueless about what to do when this E 15 error code showed up.
They decided to order a board which they thought would fix the problem. I waited another 5 days for the part to be ordered and delivered. Finally, the repair man, Josh, came to replace the electronic board, and he did it within the 15 minutes while I was away from the house picking up a child. When I returned, he was out in front of my house, and he asked me to sign off on the repair and to rate his service. I gave him a good rating and signed off on the repair. He left. I went inside to find that he had left screws and his screwdriver on the counter. When we went to turn the range on, we noticed that some of the segments of the numbers on the electronic display board were not lighting up. Within a few days, the error code started to beep again. We tried turning the breaker on and off for a few days. It was the same problem--sporadic beeping, sometimes the burners worked, sometimes they didn't.
After a couple of weeks, I finally called customer service again, and I sat on the phone for an hour trying to get someone to come out the next day. I didn't want to wait another 5 days. After talking to a very inexperienced representative and being transferred a couple of times and being told that I would have to wait another 3 or 4 days for someone to come out, I finally was able to get a phone number for Customer Relations whom I called. The person on the other end of the line seemed so much more competent. I said that I wanted someone with a lot of experience, that I was told that someone who specialized in servicing Electrolux ranges should repair it (although I was told by other customer service representatives that they had never heard that before), and I wanted someone to come out the next day. I said it wasn't acceptable for a person who buys an extended warranty to have to wait several days for service. I suggested that it would make sense that they need to hire more people, so they can get to their customers more quickly. Finally, this person got a repairman out the next day. I was very pleased with this and had renewed hope that we could have a quick resolution to this problem.
Gary showed up the next day. He brought his diagnostic computer and plugged it into my range. He looked up the code in his portable computer system. He called someone from Sear's to determine what they should do about this error code. Again, they didn't seem to know exactly what the problem was. He cycled the power by turning the breaker on and off. He then said that we would need to wait a few days to order a second identical board as what was put in the first time by Josh. He also ordered a board that would help to correct the display of all of the segments of the numbers. The parts were shipped to my house, and he came to replace them. When he arrived to put the parts in, he realized that the second identical board had been ordered incorrectly, and he had the wrong part. While there that day, he and a second repair person had pulled the range apart, and they thought that some wiring needed to be replaced as well. I wasn't there to receive this information on this day. I was told we were waiting for one part by my husband after Gary and his repair partner had left. One box of parts arrived at my house on Friday.
Over the weekend, I received a phone call from Sear's saying that we would need to reschedule the repair appointment on Monday to another day because not all of the parts had arrived. I called and demanded that I wanted someone to still come out on Monday because I was told only one part needed to come, and they had left another part on my counter when they left. It was unclear to me and the customer service representative if we had all of the parts needed. English was a bit of barrier for this customer service representative. I didn't want to waste any more time. They came out on Monday, and they didn't have one of the 2 parts that they needed. They replaced one of the parts since they were there. This still didn't repair the problem. We waited for a few more days for the correct parts to arrive. They pulled the range apart again and put in these parts that they thought would fix the problem. Again, no luck. While Gary had it pulled apart this time, he noticed that the entire top board that controls the burners and one of the burners itself were burned out, and they needed to replace these parts.
They ordered those 2 major parts and a couple of smaller parts that may be needed "just in case" as explained by Gary. He wanted to make sure that we weren't going to have any more delay in repairing it, so he ordered extra parts that might be necessary. Gary gave me a receipt and circled all the parts that were needed. We waited a few more days, and he came another time to install these parts, and after he was done, it still didn't fix the problem. He finally said that the range was not repairable, and he felt like Sear's should give me a new range. At this point, we had been without a functioning stove top for almost 2 months. The burners just eventually stopped working, possibly because of it being pulled apart completely 3 times. Turning the breaker on and off didn't even work anymore. Until the last visit with Gary, the oven (not the stove top, the oven) would at least work when the range was turned on, but I would have to listen to the incessant beeping the entire time something was cooking because we couldn't turn the error code off. After Gary's last visit though, the oven didn't work anymore either. I don't know why. I don't know if it was because something was left unplugged.
He started the process for us to receive a new range. We got a phone call from Sear's 4 days later telling us that we would be receiving another phone call in a few days to explain to us what Sear's would be giving us. They allowed us $3300.00 to pick out a new range. We went to the local Sear's store to look into a new range. The only induction range with the dehydrator and slow cooker options was the Electrolux. Reviews online about this range were great for people who had only owned it for a few months, but there were other people who had the similar problem as we did. I asked to talk to the manager, and I explained what I had gone through to that point. I said I really wanted the Electrolux again because of its features, but I wanted Sear's to give me a 5 year extended warranty for free because of all of the hassle that I had been put through. The manager, Justin, at the Washington Square store was great about typing up an e-mail with all of the details of my experience and sending it to the customer service escalation department.
I decided to go ahead and get the Electrolux, hoping that Sear's would honor my request for the 5 year extended warranty. I had asked Justin how often they had seen something like this happen; he said one in a thousand experiences. I thought it would be worth getting this range one more time that I liked so much and that had functioned well for 2 years if Sear's would give me another extended warranty after the hassle I had been put through over the last 2 months. I ordered the new range; it was going to take 2 weeks for it to be ordered and installed. I couldn't believe that I had to wait another 2 weeks. I received a phone call 9 days later responding to my escalation e-mail sent by Justin. It was a message saying that they had noticed that I had a range scheduled for installation, and that it appeared I had worked everything out and to call them at a particular 1-800 # if I needed further assistance.
I called the 1-800 #, and I was told that there was nothing that they could do to help me with my request for an extended service warranty. Mind you, this was supposed to be the customer service escalation department that should be willing and able to help dissatisfied customers. You would think at this point, that Sear's would bend over backwards to help people who have taken their complaints to the escalation level through a store manager. He said that I needed to talk to the extended warranty department, and he connected me with them. That young man was actually quite pleasant. When I spoke to the new person in the extended warranty department, I was told that all they could do for me was to give me 3 months. I already have 6 months left on my extended warranty on the old range that they said they would honor. She said there was nothing else she could do for me, and the only way I would get any further was to e-mail the corporate office.
All I want for Christmas is a working range with a 5 year extended warranty. Really, Sear's could do at least that for a customer who bought an extended warranty with the thought that I would be well taken care of as a customer if I spent hundreds of dollars on their product. I expect better from any company who wants to maintain customers. Have enough people working for you, so you can get someone out the very next day to a home of an extended warranty customer. If a diagnostic computer indicates a problem the first time, and it is not fixed by the part needed to fix it, take the range apart the next time you send someone out to fix it.
Sear's wasted their technician's time going through the same diagnostic process twice because Josh said, "Our hands our tied by the procedures that we have to go through. It costs too much money and time to pull the entire range apart." I beg to differ. Sear's spent way much more money ordering multiple parts to try to fix the problem because they didn't give the technician the freedom (according to what was explained to me by Josh and Gary) to investigate further. I would say that about $750.00 to $1000.00 were spent on parts (We're not counting labor costs.) before Gary said that it just needed to be replaced. Between Gary and Josh and other support repairmen, they were probably at my house on 7 to 8 different occasions for at least a total of 12 man hours. Finally, it appeared to me that there was a lack of competence in knowing how to repair this Electrolux range. Was a specialist needed? This is still unclear to me to this day. Most of Sear's representatives didn't seem to think so, but I was told this by one along the way. Unfortunately, when Josh came to fix it the first time, segments of the displayed numbers were missing after he left, and he left a tool and loose screws on the counter. It concerned me that the screws were even there. Shouldn't have they been put back into place on the range since we didn't have loose screws sitting on the counter before he came?
I'm concerned about the competence of repair men being sent to my house. Gary was very nice and professional. He had been doing this for 20 years. It concerns me though that problems can't be resolved more quickly and accurately. Sear's needs to give their customer service representatives and repair men more freedom to make the "customer feel like they are always right." This is how Nordstrom's and Costco have always done business, and I think their success indicates that. According to an online business article, 85% of Sear's customers are dissatisfied with how they are treated as customers. Sear's was always the place to go and buy appliances because of how they treated their customers in my parents' generation. Sear's needs to wake up and follow their customer service policies of the past. I was asked to rate my experience with Sear's. I felt like giving them 1 star, but I decided to give them 2 stars for those employees who were pleasant and for a couple of the employees who seemed competent and because Sear's should be given some credit for finally getting me a new range. However, I'm still at the point where I'm telling everyone I know to not buy appliances and extended service warranties at Sear's. At this point, I will never buy from them again. Sear's, if you're reading this, show me I'm wrong; show me that the individual customer matters more to you than your bureaucracy.