Another water heater fiasco
Here is the entire story in a letter I sent to Sears:
I would like to detail a series of errors on Sears’s part which resulted in my going without hot water for seven days over the Christmas holidays and missing three days of work more than I should have missed. I have provided you with a summary, then a longer version of this incident with more detailed information, and some questions at the end.
1. The morning of Wednesday, Dec. 22nd, I called Sears and spoke to the water heater department. I explained that my water heater was broken and that I needed a new one. I was asked by the Sears sales representative only what type of fuel it used and how many gallons capacity it had, received some suggestions as to replacement models, placed my order and was told it would be installed the same day. When the plumber arrived to install it, it turned out to be too wide to fit in the available space. Apparently, it is not all that unusual for townhomes such as mine to have limited space for a water heater, but I was not aware that they came in different widths. I feel that the Sears water heater sales representative should have asked me about space requirements, but she did not; therefore I feel that this failure to deliver a suitable water heater on the day promised was the fault of Sears.
2. I canceled that order and that evening of Wednesday, Dec. 22nd I called to order a second water heater which I had looked up and made sure it would fit the space. I was told it would be delivered the following day. The following day, Thursday, Dec 23rd, I never received a call from the plumber to install the water heater, so I called Sears and was told that both my orders had been canceled. I asked why my second order had been canceled when I only canceled the first order, and was told that there was no record of any request from me to cancel the second order and that Sears had canceled it by mistake. I was also told that it was too late in the day to deliver a water heater that day, but if I re-ordered I could get one the following day, which was Friday, Dec. 24th—Christmas Eve. I asked if he was sure that Christmas Eve delivery was available and he assured me that it was. This is the second day that Sears failed to deliver as promised.
3. On the morning of Friday, December 24th, I called to ask why I had not heard from the plumber to schedule a delivery time, and was told that Christmas Eve delivery was not available in my state. I was assured that my order would be delivered Monday, December 27th. This was the third day that Sears failed to deliver as promised.
4. On the morning of Monday, December 27th, I called to find out why no one had contacted me to schedule delivery and installation, and was told that the plumber who was supposed to deliver and install the water heater did not have that model in stock and that they would not be able to deliver it until Tuesday, December 28th. This was the fourth day Sears failed to deliver as promised. I had used up three and a half vacation days and was without hot water from December 22 to December 28 when I should have only had to use one-half of a vacation day and been without hot water only for part of the day of December 22.
Since it is Sears’s policy to provide their customers with a $50 gift card when a water heater is not delivered as promised, and this happened to me four times, I believe that the least I am entitled to is four $50 gift cards. I could ask for compensation for the three extra vacation days I had to take; and the fact that we were without hot water for seven days over the Christmas holidays. However, I am not asking to be compensated for those things, only four the four incidents on which Sears failed to deliver as promised. I feel that I am being more than reasonable in asking this.
The more detailed version:
On the morning of Wednesday, December 22, I called Sears and asked about buying a water heater. I was transferred to the water heater department. I explained that my water heater had broken and I needed a replacement. I was asked by the sales representative how many gallons and what fuel source my current water heater used. I was not asked what size the water heater was, and I didn't think to supply that information because I did not know that water heaters come in various widths. I placed an order for a water heater with the same capacity and fuel type.
Around 4:00 PM that same day, water heater arrived, but it was the wrong size and would not fit into the space where my old one was. The delivery person called Sears and spoke to someone, then offered to deliver another one next day, said it was exactly the same, but mentioned that it had a 6-year warranty instead of the 12-year I wanted, so I canceled.
At around 6:00 or 7:00 PM, I called back, asked to order another water heater as I found a model that fit my needs and was the right size. I was transferred to the water heater department where I ordered the new one and was told "someone will call tonight to schedule delivery tomorrow." I waited at home and kept my phone free, but no one called. I was never given an order number for the second order.
At around 8:30 on the morning of Thursday, December 23, I still had not been called by the deliverer, so I called Sears again to check my second order, and was transferred to the water heater department where I was told that both orders had been canceled. I explained that I only canceled the first order, not the second one. The sales representative transferred me to a "water heater hotline" and the representative I spoke to in that department looked into it and said that the second order was canceled by mistake and she would have someone reinstate the order and call me back to confirm it. I asked how long it would take to hear back from them and she said one to two hours. I asked if this could be expedited because I was hoping to get this done early today as I have some things at work I need to take care of. She said she would do what she could.
Three hours later at 11:30 AM on Thursday, December 23, I called back into the queue to find out why no one had called me to confirm my order, and spoke to Tony in the water heater department. He said he would check into what had happened, and put me on hold. Then he came back on the phone, verified my phone number and said he'd call me back within 15 minutes. By this time it was 11:45.
Tony called me back right about noon as promised, but I wasn't able to talk to him about it right then. He called again about a half hour later, at which time I confirmed with him everything about my order. He said that he would try to get the heater delivered today, but that since it was after the noon cutoff time, it may not be here until the next day, Friday December 24th. I asked whether or not delivery & installation was actually available on Christmas Eve, and he said, “Yes. The technicians are working tomorrow, so I know the installers will be working tomorrow.” I was once again very disappointed that the water heater I was promised that day would not be arriving. Tony said that I would get a call later that day (Thursday, Dec 23rd) from the plumber to schedule delivery for the following day.
At about 4:15 PM, I still had not received a call from the installation company to schedule a delivery time for the following day. I decided to call and check. I reached Cathy in the Water Heater department and explained the previous difficulties. Cathy was shocked that this error had happened and said that she told me that she would take care of me herself to ensure that it was handled correctly. I felt that Cathy was extremely focused on providing me with the best possible experience and getting everything straightened out. I feel lucky that I reached her, and I think that Sears is lucky to have someone like her working with customers.
Cathy did some checking and found out that the third order was “not attached to a heater at the store.”
She also did some additional checking and found out that installation and delivery is not available in my area again until Monday, December 27th and told me that I could not wait that long for hot water, and that I should purchase the water heater from a local store and have someone local come and install it tomorrow.
I said that I would like to proceed with the order for installation and delivery on Monday, and that IF I could find a local plumber who was willing to install a water heater on Christmas Eve, I would cancel the Sears order; but otherwise I would like it to remain open so that I would be sure to get a water heater on Monday.
Cathy then put me through to a local store to make sure they had one in stock. I checked, they had several of the model I want in stock, but they required me to come in to the store to place the order. Frankly, with no hot water for two days, I don't really feel like going out in public. Besides, I didn't really feel like going through the hassle of calling a bunch of local plumbers to find one who could pick up and install the water heater on Christmas Eve.
I wanted to make sure that my order was still in effect for Monday, so I called back and got Joya. She was also helpful, she made sure the order was placed and let me know that I should get a call to schedule for delivery by Monday morning.
Well, 9:00 Monday morning December 27th came and I had not received a call, so I called Sears to check on it. I called 800-326-8738 ext. 56916 and spoke to Sheena. Sheena was very helpful and called the plumber who was supposed to install my water heater. They informed her that they did not have that model in stock so would not be able to install it that day, but that they could get it and would come out to install it the following day, Tuesday Dec. 28th between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM.
I expressed frustration to Sheena and explained that this was the fourth time in a row I had been promised delivery and Sears had failed to make good on that promise. She said that she would send me a $50 gift card “because that’s what we do when we promise delivery on a certain date and don’t meet that promise.”
Well, that’s an admirable customer service policy, but I wonder why I never heard about it until the fourth time Sears failed to meet their promise.
1. The original sales representative should have asked me for the make and model of my current water heater and then asked if a wider one would be OK. I would have checked and realized that there was barely enough space for the existing one and said that I would need one no wider than it. I was later told by a plumber that it’s not uncommon for townhouses like mine to have cramped spaces for water heaters. Why wouldn’t a Sears water heater sales representative ask about this as a matter of routine?
2. My second order should NEVER have been canceled by Sears. This was in my opinion the worst error in terms of how it affected me.
3. When I called in at 8:30 on December 23, I was told that my order would be reinstated and I would be called back within one to two hours. Why did no one call me back? When I finally reached another water heater representative over three hours later, why was my order still on "canceled" status? I had asked this to be expedited on account of Sears's mistake in canceling the second order, but nothing was being done about it. Why?
4. Why would someone ensure me on December 23rd that installation & delivery was available on the following day (Christmas Eve) when it wasn’t?
5. Why did no one call me first thing Monday morning and tell me that the water heater I was expecting that day was not in stock and would not be delivered until the following day? I could still have gotten to work at a reasonable time on Monday, and there is a shower at work so I would have been able to get in nearly a full day of work. Instead, I had to call Sears to ask why no one had called me.
6. Why was I not informed about the $50 gift card policy until the fourth time Sears failed to deliver as promised, and why was I only offered one gift card when this happened four different times?
7. (This is also stated above): Since it is Sears’s policy to provide their customers with a $50 gift card when a water heater is not delivered as promised, and this happened to me four times, I believe that the least I am entitled to is four $50 gift cards. I could ask for compensation for the three extra vacation days I had to take; and the fact that we were without hot water for seven days over the Christmas holidays. However, I am not asking to be compensated for those things, only four the four incidents on which Sears failed to deliver as promised. I feel that I am being reasonable in asking this.
Sears sent me one $50 gift card and promised to send two more, which I have not received yet. I do not consider $150 adequate compensation, but it's better than nothing.