Sears Complaint - Kenmore Ergo Elite 3 embroidery machine
LAS CRUCES, NEW MEXICO -- In October 2004, I went to my local Sears store (Las Cruces, NM) to look at sewing machines. I've grown up with stories, as many other consumers have, praising the quality (not to mention the longevity) of the products sold by Sears.
My mother remembers with fondness an old treadle style sewing machine owned by her grandmother - purchased at Sears (which one of Mom's cousins took when her grandmother passed on to her reward). That sewing machine still works to this day!
Sears had just introduced the "Kenmore" Ergo Elite 3 embroidery machine and, as is status quo in Las Cruces, at least - they only had the floor model in stock.
The Sales Associate was polite and made a point of drawing my attention to the "sale" price of $1,499.99 (normally $1,999.99), with the added "bonus" of completing a rebate form and receiving (49) additional presser feet. She also made a point of telling me that all of their higher end "Kenmore" machines were manufactured for them by Janome - a name I trusted. (Lower end "Kenmore machines are manufactured by Brother).
Well, I bought the speech - and the machine (it was, after all, more affordable getting a Janome machine from a national retailer with buying power than it was to go to my local Janome dealer and pay three times as much for an identical product). The sales person tried selling me the infamous "extended warranty" as I've bought so many times in the past (and I learned my lesson... I thought) for the nominal price of $339.00 a year. Although the machine had a one (1) year warranty, I was told that testing complaints with the Unit stemmed from the touch screen failing after hours of constant hard use - something I would not be doing to the machine. I was confident in the Janome name behind the machine and I honestly did not expect the machine to fail.
Although I paid for the machine at the time of purchase, it took over a week for it to arrive - not in keeping with the promised delivery time. I had to go to the Sears store to pick it up (UPS would have brought it to my home for an additional $50.00 charge), but all in all, now that I had the machine I was happy with it.
Within three (3) months that "honeymoon" was over. Although I was using the machine infrequently, I had to service it at least once per use. It has also developed a very loud clicking sound that persisted after stitching (simple straight stitches any machine should be able to perform) for just two or three minutes. I was constantly referring to the Owner's manual looking for information / assistance - anf for the dozens of pages that made up the manual, there was no real guidance for servicing the machine aside from cleaning lint out of the bobbin relay.
Confident my machine was under warranty, I began to read that section in detail only to learn that I had been LIED to. The Ergo Elite only has a NINTY day warranty - not the full one (1) year warranty I was promised at the time of purchase! I called the trouble line listed in the Owner's manual (JAMAC, Inc. - subsidiary of Sears) incessantly leaving detailed messages and seeking guidance. Was my issue under warranty or wasn't it? No one ever answered their phones and they were proving to be incapable of returning telephone calls.
Cleaning the machine incessantly allowed me to sew with it and minimize the clicking noise, but it was dissappointingly the first machine I had owned that required more time to maintain it than you were able to sew with it. Needless to say, I didn't get much sewing done.
By August of 2005, although I may have had all of fifty hours of sewing time on the machine, it experienced a complete power failure and was now useful only as a VERY pricey, oversized paperweight. Calls to JAMAC, Inc. for troubleshooting assistance (was it a warranty issue or wasn't it?!?) were still being ignored. By now I had received only one call back with a canned message of "returning your call". I was livid! I had been leaving detailed messages explaining my issue - the least they could have done is left the answer to my question on my machine.
When I tried to return the call I was further dismayed - now their answering machine was so full of messages that I couldn't even leave my return message. It took the better part of a week for me to be able to leave a message again! By now I was really starting to wonder how many other unsuspecting consumers had experienced the same problems I was without resolution. Why else is no one ever available to answer the phone during promised business hours?!? Why is their answering machine so full that it can't receive any more messages?!?
Frustrated and tired of being able to use my sewing machine, I took it to my local Janome store for servicing. Three weeks later it came back - UNREPAIRED - IRREPARABLE.
Although the machine is manufactured by Janome for Sears, it is made to Sears' specifications - not Janome's. Two thirds of the parts in the machine are non Janome parts - they are, in fact, brandless "junk" parts that can not be replaced by anyone other than Sears. The few Janome parts of my machine were functional, but the junky electronics and other parts had stopped communicating with the Janome parts. My thread tensioner was already in need of replacement and no longer functioned. The repairman was stunned by the lack oof quality in this machine. He called Sears as I had done, seeking assistance. He wanted to know where he could find the components necessary to make my machine functional. Instead he was told to close the machine up and send it to a Sears repair center in Dallas, TX accompanied by a check for $600.00!
The machine, instead, came back to me. My repairman was kind enough to eat the bill for looking at my machine and urged me to get my money back.
I've been trying ever since...
I called my store, first. They were of no assistance and refused to answer me when I asked about the failure / return rate of the machine.
I then filed a complaint against Sears with the Attorney General's Office (State of New Mexico) Consumer Protection Division.
In New Mexico, as long as you have not taken formal legal action against the Company you are fighting with, you can ask the Office of the Attorney General - Consumer Protection Division to intercede.
The first week of October 2005, I received a letter from the CPD. They had contacted my local Sears store and received a sugary response from its' Manager, a Patricia Mender. She sent them a printed page off of their computer system stating that the Ergo Elite 3 did, in fact, have a one year warranty - in direct opposition to the statements made in my Owner's manual.
The letter encouraged me to contact Ms. Mender for a seemingly quick, amicable, and painless resolution. I packed up my machine and headed straight for my Sears store. I went to the sewing machine area and showed the Associate the letters from the AG and Ms. Mender. As it was after 7pm, I didn't expect Ms. Mender to still be in the store - I just wanted to find out how we were going to come to an amicable resolution (I wanted them to take their machine and put it somewhere impolite, and refund the purchase).
Instead Ms. Mender appeared after making me wait five (5) minutes and began dressing me down, yelling at me in front of her employees and other customers. She was furious that I had reported her store to the Attorney General's office and seemed bent upon making an example of me.
According to Ms. Mender I invalidated the warranty when I allowed my Janome repairman to touch my machine. I was attacked for not calling the (800) MY number (Ms. Mender just kept moving closer and closer, hands on hips, towering over me with her attitude) to which I responded I had called the number referenced in my Owner's Manual. She berated me for not calling the correct number - but if the number in the Owner's manual is incorrect, WHY is it there?!?
If my machine were truly under a one (1) year warranty as alleged by Ms. Mender, why was I never provided with written confirmation of such at the time of purchase?!?
"Ms." Mender's conduct was so eggregious a person of lesser patience might have struck her in response to her bullish, immature, and unprofessional attack.
I was hatefully escorted (by several employees) to the Service Department and told they would look at my machine - only because it was still warrantied - but that I would be liable for the charges (so how is that "warranty"???). With that Ms. Mender turned on her heels and stormed off.
A week later Sears repair called and said the machine only needed to be "cleaned" and it was perfectly functional. It remains at the Sears store to this day. I refuse to condescend to set foot on Sears property after how their "Manager" behaved.
The Attorney General's Office is as upset as I am by Ms. Mender's conduct - she lied to them - and they are still fighting with Sears for me. At least they respond when the Attorney General calls - although that's about all they've done so far. Still no refund.
I am boycotting all Sears and K-Mart locations as is my family - and I actively encourage others to do likewise. I can easily take their sales ads to other retailers who will be only too happy to price match.
I am also INCREDIBLY disappointed in Janome.
Realizing this is a Company of Japanese origin, it amazes me that they would sully their reputation in such a terrible fashion. Does the revenue generated for them by Sears keep their company afloat? Are they in that poor a financial condition (which I find quite hard to believe)?
Why else allow Sears to compromise their own reputation?
Fool me once - shame on you. Fool me twice - isn't going to happen. I won't spend $6,000.00 on another Janome "machine"...
I'm boycotting Janome, too.