Sears Complaint - Manufacturers defect and unacceptable service solution
BEDFORD, TEXAS -- In August of 2006, we were in the market for a new refrigerator. Our Amana was over 20 years old and we wanted to place it in the garage as a 2nd refrigerator and purchase a larger, stainless steel look for the kitchen. As we keep our appliances for a long time and wanted to make the right decision, we took our time shopping and referred to Consumer Reports magazine. We finally decided on a Kenmore Model 56666, as it was rated # 1 in side-by-side refrigerators and the #1 Best Buy in the August 2006’ issue of Consumer Reports. We had so much luck with our Amana refrigerator; we decided the extended warranty would not be necessary. Our total price was $1585.73. The refrigerator was delivered on August 29, 2006 and initially we were very pleased with our purchase. Then, on February 12, 2007, I noticed a number of cracks on the interior backside of the wall had appeared. These cracks are puffed and obviously cracking from the backside of the panel into the inside. As I investigated further, I found a few other cracks beginning to appear. Realizing this was a manufacture’s defect and the refrigerator was still under warranty, I called the Sear’s Service Center and an appointment was scheduled for Monday, February 19, 2007.
During the service call, I learned that ours is not the first of this model of refrigerator that has had this same problem. The service man said he didn’t know what was causing it, but he suspected it was from too much insulation in the lining. He said the only think they’ve come up with was to cut out a panel and glue it in. I was shocked and he seemed to expect my reaction. I can only assume that everyone whom has had this problem has found this to be a poor solution. He was apologetic and told me he knew how I felt because these refrigerators are really expensive and I’d only had it a few months. He seemed genuinely sorry that this was the only solution they had come up with. I asked who else I could talk with and he suggested I call the manager of the store where the refrigerator was purchased, as well as Customer Service in Sears’ corporate offices. He added that he was going to go ahead and order the part; however I could cancel the repair, depending on any other solution I came up with. He indicated that he knew it wasn’t much of a solution and suggested that I could leave it as is. He felt it wouldn’t hurt anything other than the appearance.
After discussing this with my husband, we decided this is an unacceptable solution. Besides the fact that we are now unhappy with our own purchase, we had recommended Kenmore to two other people who both purchased Kenmore refrigerators. Now, we wonder if they will face the same problem and partially blame us. Thus, I contacted Sears at Northeast Mall in Hurst, Texas, where we purchased the refrigerator and asked for a store manager. The manager I was referred to was named Ben and he told me he would check on it and call back. At the store manager’s request, a woman named Judy contacted us later in the day concerning our complaint. She told us nothing would be cut out of or removed from our refrigerator; instead a 3’ X 5’ panel would be glued into the inside back panel to cover the cracks. We expressed our discontent in this inferior solution and the only concession Judy would offer is extending the warranty on the back end. The inside of the refrigerator appears to be one solid molded piece. The panel would not be flush and would not solve the problem, only temporarily cover it up. Since areas would have to be cut out for the light bulb and possibly hoses, there would be a number of edges that would not be flush; rather, they would harbor soil and bacteria. As the plastic repair panel would be made of a different material would it yellow or discolor like so many plastics. In addition, we would not be able to tell if there are any leaks or other problems. The Kenmore solution is not much better than using duct tape. Because this is not an acceptable solution for a manufacturers defect in an expensive refrigerator that is still under warranty, we asked Judy who was higher in the chain of command that we might further discuss this matter with. Judy rather abruptly informed us that “she was it!” She said we could not go any higher because she is the “National Level One Source Customer Relations Manager.” We then informed Judy that she left us with no recourse other than to contact the President of Sears, Consumer Reports, the Better Business Bureau, and any complaint websites we might find. Judy simply gave us our case number: 1574221 for any references to our problem and offered no other solutions to our complaint.
Interestingly, the replacement part was shipped to us and we received it on February 26, 2007. As the box, itself, only measures 25” X 35,” I knew it could not hold a 3’ by 5’ panel as described by Judy, so I decided to look inside. I found a flimsy plastic panel measuring 22” by 35.” As this would not come close to covering the back panel, I wondered if they planned to glue it on the back in pieces.
We are so very disappointed in Sears. Our home is filled with Kenmore appliances and we are planning to completely remodel our kitchen and utility room in the near future. Kenmore would have been at the top of our list; however, unless this is resolved in an acceptable manner, we will never recommend Kenmore appliances to anyone, nor will we ever purchase one again.
Please let me know if you have any suggestions regarding finding a solution to this problem.