Sears Informative - Sears Did Not Honor Refrigerator Warranty
My 2-year old Kenmore refrigerator quit running on August 12, 2007 due to a defective compressor, which is covered under the 5-year warranty for sealed components. When you call Sears, you get the usual options to select and questions to answer. Then you are put on hold awaiting a live person. This person will be the next person available and could be in any city or state. You can’t get the same person you talked to last time. You can give the employee ID number and they still don’t know who it is. You must start over with the entire story after you repeat your phone number, name and address. Several times I was disconnected after telling my story and had to start over with someone else. I frequently got conflicting answers, like “no, they don’t do warranty repairs” to “yes, they do warranty repairs”. This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had. Below is a summary of my stressful experience. Following that is the unbelievable details. You will see that Sears continuously changed their story. I got the impression that they were trying to wear me down and drop the issue.
1. My first phone call for service, Sears said the refrigerator was no longer under warranty and it would take a week before Sears could service it.
2. I said I would call someone else for service because I needed it repaired sooner.
3. When I called back and explained that a local non-Sears repair service said the problem was the compressor, Sears did not tell me that the warranty was now void. In fact, my warranty description in my manual did not say the warranty would be voided if someone else worked on the refrigerator. Sears proceeded to sell me the service agreement saying that the compressor would be covered under warranty and the service agreement would cover the labor. They did not say that the service agreement would not cover the repair since some else worked on the refrigerator. I asked them to fax the terms of the Service Smart agreement. They said they did not have faxing capabilities. I asked them to email it; they said they could not, that I would have to wait until it arrived in the mail about 10 days after paying for it.
4. They proceeded to schedule an appt. A week went by, and then the service tech arrived and said he would not replace the compressor because someone else worked on it. He proceeded to write a report that was inaccurate and made it look like the repairperson had damaged the refrigerator.
5. I called Sears back and explained that the compressor is covered under the 5-yr warranty. They say the “agreement” is void because someone worked on the refrigerator. I can’t get them to consider the factory warranty and forget about the service agreement. My manual does not state the warranty is void if someone other than Sears works on the unit.
6. 9/5/07: Received the service agreement contract. If says this agreement does not cover service required as a result of a repair by someone not authorized by Sears. The compressor failed before the repair tech arrived. I called him because the refrigerator quit running. The failed compressor was not caused by the repair tech.
7. I asked multiple Sears’ personnel if I could fax them the write-up from the local repair tech, which indicates the compressor, was not working upon his arrival. They said they could not receive faxes. The non-Sears repair tech has agreed to appear in Small Claim court if it comes to this.
8. I filed a claim with the Better Business Bureau. Sears said my warranty was void because the non-Sears repair tech damaged the refrigerator. This is not true. I will file with Small Claims.
9. I did Win in small claims court because Sears did not show up.
Below is the detail:
1. My 2-year old Kenmore refrigerator stopped running on 8/13.
2. 8/13: Called Sears, Service Tech could not come until 8/21.
3. I could not go w/o a refrigerator for that long, so I called a local service. Only the sealed units were still under warranty. He replaced the start/run switch for $190. It did not help. He said was a faulty compressor and he would not touch it since it was under warranty.
4. Made the appt. and asked them to have the service tech bring a compressor when he comes so it could be repaired right away.
5. Cannot bring compressor at first visit. Must come, charge $65, diagnose, and then order the part. Takes a few days to get in. Then they will set up the next appt to install.
6. Cannot have 2 appointments on the books, so they cannot set up the second appt now
7. Compressor is under warranty, but the labor is not.
8. We stocked food into coolers and purchased many bags of ice. Eventually we bought a small refrigerator for $140. We had already lost about $125 in food.
9. After I made the appt. I spoke to Employee x. He said I have to select and pay for the plan prior to making the appt.
10. Must cancel my appt if I want to take the plan, and then reschedule.
11. Can’t provide an est. cost. So we cannot decide in advance if we want the plan.
12. Called to get service plan. Went thru all the automated questions again, a person put me on hold for at least 5 min., and then we were disconnected.
13. I called back and got the plan. She confirmed that the plan was accepted even though I had an appt.
14. 8/21: the service tech said he would not repair the compressor and that it was no longer under warranty because someone other than Sears worked on the refrigerator. A new compressor would be $452 and the labor $177. He didn’t give us the $500 per the Service plan agreement.
15. 8/21: I called Sears and spoke with Employee y of the Dept of Repairs. She said the warranty was voided when the other repair service replaced the switch even though they did not touch the compressor. The unit was still sealed.
16. 8/21: I requested to speak with her supervisor. She said she was the “top” and there was no one above her to talk to. She said that even if I talked to the CEO, he would say the compressor was not covered under the warranty. I persisted and she left a message with the NCR Dept. who must respond within 24 hours.
17. 8/22: The NCR Dept did not respond. I called them. They were unfamiliar with the situation and I started from scratch. She said that I needed to call the mfg for the warranty. I said it was Sears, She said no it is Kenmore. She said that the service tech could not do the mfg warranty work. Then why did they send him? I asked for the $65 service charge to be refunded and to cancel the service agreement. She gave me the Cancellation dept. Gave all my info again. They don’t handle the Service Smart cancellations. They will transfer me to 1-877-469-5663. Employee z cancelled the agreement. He said the service tech can do warranty work.
18. 8/22: I called the Kenmore number. It was Sears. Selected repairs and was transferred to warranty, but got the Tech Line who handles Service Smart disputes. He reviewed my info. The mesa service tech had reported that the wires were hanging loose and shorted the compressor. That is false. I explained what happened and offered to fax my receipt and description of the repair. Employee A “they” have been looking at this as not being covered by the Service Smart agreement. He feels it should still be covered under mfg warranty and there is no need to fax the repair slip. He was the first person who actually “listened” to me and had any empathy. He will have Employee B call the Mesa Service Unit tomorrow morning and get this resolved.
19. 8/23/07: Employee B has not called me. Called 1-800-767-2000, Opt 1 and asked for Employee B. No such person. They suggested I call Nat’l Customer Relations at 800-927-7836 or Protection Services Resolution Center at 1-888-528-6326. I asked them to connect me to the Service Smart Tech Line in High Point, NC (800-827-6655). They did and someone took a message for Employee B since she was out to lunch.
20. 8/23: Employee B called me. We became disconnected and she called me right back. The Tech Mgr from Mesa has not returned her call. However, she said the compressor should be covered under the warranty and the motherboard, if needed, is most likely covered as well. She will order the parts and schedule service from Mesa. The next avail appt is Wednesday, Aug 29, between 8 and noon. She will tell them not to send the same service tech. He should have at a minimum given us $500 towards a new appliance per the Service Smart agreement. Employee B will reactivate the Service Smart agreement I cancelled. We can cancel after the appt if it is not needed. Can confirm the appt by calling Tech Line again at l 800-775-2023. I can also reach her at that number. She will be out until next Wed, but will in during our service call in case we have a problem and need to contact her.
21. 8/23: I called 800-775-2023 and asked for Employee B. She was gone or away from her desk. I left a message. Perhaps the motherboard should be ordered right away in case it is needed. I don’t want to wait another week for a second service appt.
22. 8/28/07: Sears left VM at 6PM to cancel tomorrow repair appt.
23. 8/28/07 11:00 AM: Called 800-775-2023. Employee A and Employee B are out. Employee C confirmed that the Service Smart agreement has not been reactivated. I explained that Employee B was going to do 3 things for me last Thursday. 1) Order a compressor, 2) reactivate my Service Smart, 3) schedule a service appt for Wed. Aug 29 between 8 and noon. We have yet received the compressor. I asked Employee C to leave a message for Employee B so she sees it first thing in the morning in case we need to reschedule the service appt.
24. 8/29/07: Talked with Employee B. She said they cancelled the appt. for the same reason they did not repair the refrigerator the first time (they determined the compressor was not under warranty). Why did they make this appt in the first place if they were going to refuse to honor it? Why wait until the night before the appt. That adds 6 more days w/o a refrigerator. Employee B will call them. She said Sears must legally replace the compressor.
25. 8/29/07: Sears Repair in Mesa called to set up appt. for Fri or Sat. Set it up for Fri, Aug 31, 8-noon.
26. 8/29/07, 12: 45 PM: I called the Tech Line. The gal confirmed that the compressor is covered because I did not have Service Smart “before” the other company worked on the refrigerator. She confirmed my Service Smart was reactivated to cover the cost of the labor to replace the compressor. She will have Employee B check on the status of the compressor and get back to me.
27. 8/30/07: I called Employee B to confirm part was ordered. She did not respond to that question, but said that Service Smart could not cover the repair because someone else worked on the refrigerator. I explained again that the compressor is covered under the “factory” warranty. She said “You have a good point, I’ll look into that and get back to you”
28. 8/30/07, 2PM: Employee B called to say that the warranty is void because someone worked on the refrigerator. She cited their service tech notes that say the previous repairman damaged the refrigerator. I told her, as I had told her before, that I would fax her the repair slip for the previous tech that states that the compressor was weak and maybe bad before he even finished his repair. After all, I called repair service because the refrigerator was not running. So, something was wrong BEFORE the repairman came. She said I could get $500 from Sears (my $240 that I paid for the service plan plus their $260) but it must be spent at Sears. I told her I would never buy an appliance from Sears again. I then told he I would contact an atty. She said she could no longer talk to me and gave me the number of Nat’l Customer Relations (800-927-7836).
29. Called Nat’l’ Customer Relations and explained briefly what is going on to Allie (56059). She said they handle service agreements, not warranty. I should call the Mesa service unit regarding warranty 480-497-7733. I have talked with them in the past and they refuse service because they say the warranty is void.
30. 9/13/07: Retrieved Small Claims form to complete.
31. 9/13/07: Called Sears Repair number, selected warranty. Explained the situation to Althea. She said she could not determine where we bought our refrigerator, just when. But she said if I would cancel my Service agreement, then make a repair appt., the compressor will be covered under warranty. She said to call 888-528-6326.
32. 9/13/07: Called 888-528-6326, spoke with Employee D and said I wanted to cancel my agreement. She put me on hold and Employee E answered, a Sears Tech Support. I said I wanted to cancel the agreement. He started to read the notes. I summarized it. He said the compressor would not be covered if someone else worked on it. But they would refund my $240 for the agreement. Then he said there were a lot of notes and he better speak with his supv first (He said “she”, I suspect it was Employee B). He said someone would call me back tomorrow. His dept’s direct line is 800-775-2023. That is the number for Employee B’s dept.
33. 9/14/07: Called 800-549-4505 (customer service). Spoke with the regulator compliance specialist. She is working on my claim with the BBB and plans to respond soon. Her number is 800-762-3049, ext 16357. I explained that I had not been given a chance to provide the local service tech’s findings and accurate description of repairs. She gave me her fax number 512-248-7945.
34. 9/18/08: Sears responded to the BBB claim saying they would not pay the claim. They said to call for a full refund of the service agreement plan. I had to call two or 3 phone numbers and speak with multiple people to get the refund. They tried to charge me for the service visit in which the service tech did nothing. I refused to pay that. After being on put on hold, they came back and agreed on a full refund.
35. 10/5/07: Sears replied to the BBB complaint stating that they believe the repair tech damaged the refrigerator and therefore they would not honor the warranty.
36. I will file with small claims on 10/9/07.
37. I won in small claims court because Sears did not show up.