Sears won't honor lifetime warranty on dishwasher
Kenmore Ultra Wash Model 665 dishwasher - Complaint
Resolution Update on 04/14/2012:
UPDATE -Success via CA Attorney General 4/9/2012
On 3/14/2012, since I live in CA, I entered my complaint with the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which is a department within the California Attorney General Office. I also sent a copy to the Illinois Attorney General Office, since Sears HQ is in Illinois. On 3/15/2012, the CA Dept of Consumer Affairs sent me a letter saying they were investigating the complaint and asked me to send additional information. On 3/27/2012 I emailed them a copy of my original complaint letter I wrote to Sears (similar to this complaint I documented here), plus copies of my emails back and forth with Sears, plus a scanned copy of my warranty and original purchase receipt.
On 3/29/2012, I received a call from Sears. A customer service representative told me that the CA Attorney General Office had sent my complaint to the Sears Legal Office. The Sears Legal Office then instructed the customer service department to contact me to offer to replace my leaking dishwasher tub "free of charge". This customer service rep was VERY accommodating and offered to send a technician the next day to inspect my dishwasher so the proper parts could be ordered. Since Sears was now willing to honor their warranty, I scheduled the technician.
On 3/30/2012, the technician arrived and immediately opened the dishwasher and knew exactly where to look for the leak. He then pulled up his pc, found the parts, and ordered a new tub. When I asked him if he had ever seen this problem before, he said yes and showed me a service bulletin on his pc from the manufacturer that documented my issue EXACTLY, and how to correct it. The root cause was an improperly designed heating element for this machine. My machine has a somewhat rectangular heating element that runs essentially around the bottom perimeter of the tub, where as the redesign has a smaller round heating element that only runs around the center drain console. The technician said the problem is the heating element weakened the plastic tub where the support bracket is screwed into the tub, causing a crack to develop over time. The technician said that the heating element is used to heat the water for washing and rinsing, as well as to dry the dishes, so even though we never used the heated dry, the tub still failed.
The parts were ordered, and a second technician scheduled to do the repair. I received the parts and the technician arrived on 4/9/2012 and worked on the dishwasher for about 2 hours. Everything seems to be working fine. I ended up needing a new tub which included a new heating element, and a new door seal. All this was provided to me under warranty at "No Charge". All other parts were swapped from my old tub to the new one.
I am sharing this so that others might consider contacting your State Attorney General Office when all other attempts to work with the manufacturer fail, and you feel that your legal warranty is not being honored. This also shows the value in keeping your owners manual, warranty, and original purchase receipt.
One last note. I had to sign a receipt for the work done. On the receipt the labor cost was $147, and the retail parts cost was $424.70, for a total of $571.70. Even if the wholesale cost of the parts were only 1/2 what the retail cost is, the cost to Sears is over $350. In my original complaint letter to Sears, I suggested that they provide me a $200 voucher towards the purchase of the new dishwasher at Sears, provided it was not a Sears branded model. My reasoning is that a dishwasher should last at least 10 years, and since mine was 7 years old, I thought a 30% prorated discount was fair. A new dishwasher with similar features retails for about $600-700, so 30% works out to about a $200 discount. But Sears never took me up on my offer, even though one customer service rep and one of the technicians said they have done this before, even up to as much as $500. So I guess Sears just wanted to pay more money than was needed to throw away a loyal customer. No wonder Sears Holdings is in financial difficulty. So sad what an iconic American brand has sunk to.
OCEANSIDE, CALIFORNIA -- *Please note my UPDATE above indicating successful resolution to this problem. Sears replaced my tub and swapped out all parts from my old tub to the new one at ABSOLUTELY NO CHARGE to me! Many thanks for the assitance from California Department of Consumer Affairs within the California Attorney General Office which helped me force Sears to honor their warranty.
Here is my complaint concerning my Kenmore Ultra Wash Dishwasher, Model No. 665.16039400, Serial No. FR4704571, purchased 01/08/2005.
The tub developed a small crack and leak on the inside where a screw on the outside of the tub attaches a metal bracket to the tub. This leak allowed water to accumulate on the floor under the dishwasher, eventually soaking and ruining the toe kick portion of one of our kitchen cabinets.
My owner's manual shows the dishwasher tub has a FULL (not limited) WARRANTY for the life of the dishwasher against leaks. The owner's manual states the following:
"FULL WARRANTY FOR THE LIFE OF THE DISHWASHER, ON ULTRA LIFE TUB MODELS, AGAINST LEAKS IN THE TUB AND INNER DOOR PANEL.
For the life of the dishwasher, if a leak should occur as a result of failure of the polypropylene tub or inner door panel due to cracking, chipping or peeling, Sears will replace free of charge the tub or inner door panel.”
I called the Sears 1-800-4-MY HOME customer service department and talked to two representatives. The first told me that the dishwasher was only covered by a one year warranty. I explained to her that my owner’s manual stated the dishwasher had a lifetime warranty on the tub. After checking with her manager, I was told that if the tub is defective, they will replace it for a $129 charge. This charge is for the Technician Service Call to diagnose the problem.
At first, I scheduled a technician, but called back immediately after hanging up because I was confused. I wanted to know if the $129 service charge would be waived when the technician verifies the tub is defective and under warranty. The second representative also said the $129 service charge would apply even if the tub is under warranty. Since I was not satisfied, I canceled the service call. I then went to my local Sears store where I bought the dishwasher and talked to the appliance manager. He could not help me, but did give me the 1-800-549-4505 corporate number to discuss the problem.
I called this corporate number and talked to a representative. She again told me that the $129 service fee would apply. Again, I tried to explain that the tub had a full lifetime warranty, so she put me on hold to check. While on hold for an extended period, I was hung up on.
So I called back again (now a fourth time) and talked to another representative. She understood my problem and frustration, and looked up the warranty information on my dishwasher. She verified that the tub was covered with a lifetime warranty. When I asked why I would be charged $129 for a service fee, she tried to explain to me that the PARTS were covered by the warranty, but the LABOR was not. She said the $129 service fee was a flat rate labor fee to install the free parts.
At this point I became quite frustrated and explained to her that she was incorrect. I quoted the actual FULL (not limited) WARRANTY language (a copy of which she had in front of her), stressing that it said “Sears will replace FREE OF CHARGE the tub or inner door panel”. She insisted that this was “poorly worded” and that it only covered PARTS, not LABOR. I disagreed and told her that this is a legal contract AS WRITTEN for a FULL (not limited) WARRANTY between the manufacturer and the customer. As such, it is not limited to parts only. I also told her that no where in the tub warranty paragraph does it stipulate ONLY PARTS, NOT LABOR is covered.
She sympathized with me, but said “my hands are tied”. She said she could only offer a technician to replace the tub for a flat $129 labor fee regardless if it took 30 minutes or 30 hours to fix. Realizing I was getting no satisfaction, I asked to speak to a manager that could offer me something that would be beneficial to both of us. She responded that she was a supervisor and has the ability to authorize action, and there was no higher authority. My response was that she was not offering any solution different from what the other customer service representatives were offering. She then provided the contact information to me for the Executive Customer Relations department.
So I wrote a letter, took pictures, scanned the owner's manual, and emailed all of this to the Customer Solutions Department at Sears Holdings Executive Customer Relations Department at the following email address:
The first email response I received said the dishwasher was not under warranty. So I replied that they were wrong, and stated that their own customer service representatives on 3 occasions had verified that the dishwasher was under warranty.
Their second email response to me said they verified that the dishwasher did have an "exceptional parts" warranty, but that a technician would be required to examine the dishwasher and the claim to verify that it is covered by the warranty. The email also said that Labor would not be included for this service.
I responded again and said this was a FULL LIFETIME WARRANTY, and as such Parts and Labor should be included. There was no response to this.
At present, the dishwasher has been out of service for over 2 weeks, and I have heard nothing back from Sears Holding. So I forwarded this complaint to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and the Illinois Attorney General Consumer Fraud Bureau for their investigation and assistance. In the meantime, I am posting this to various online consumer protection websites to share my negative experience with Sears, and to declare that I will never purchase another Sears branded product ever again.