A few years ago my wife and I decided it was time to upgrade the old energy wasting washer and dryer set. They were hand-me-downs, and we both had good jobs, so we wanted to splurge on something nice. Several weeks of reading the reviews and waiting for sales, we settled on a Kenmore Elite set from Sears. They installed the machines, hauled away the old ones, and we were under the impression that for the next 20 years we would not have to worry about them. We were wrong. This is the tale of frustration with a major corporation.
4.5 years into the life of our machines, the washer suddenly stopped working. It displayed an error code for a while, which some quick Google searching led me to determine the central control unit (CCU) had failed. I went to Sears and talked to someone there, they looked up the part and I was shocked to see that it was over $200. They then tried to sell me a new unit. I was not happy with the response so rather than pitch a fit there in the store, I went onto Facebook and Twitter to pitch my fit.
Within a couple of hours after posting my dilemma, Sears responded and a customer service rep called me. I explained what happened, and the rep said they would be able to send a service technician out to diagnose the problem. I would have to pay for the service, but I would be reimbursed. I scheduled the appointment and the next day the technician showed up.
The tech looked at the washer and asked what the error code was. He then Googled the answer and determined that indeed it was the CCU that had gone out. A quick calculation and he somehow determined that it would be $450 to fix the machine. I declined the service and paid the $80 service charge. As soon as the tech was gone, I called the customer service rep back.
To this point everything was going smoothly. Everyone was very nice, and understanding. The customer service rep even knocked $100 off the price of the part so I ended up paying around $115 for it. When it came in the mail I quickly disconnected the old one, and connected the new one, and the washer promptly beeped at me and refused to turn on. The diagnosis was wrong. This is where things got frustrating.
I tried to call the customer service rep back, and suddenly I could never get anything more than voicemail. The greeting said they would return my call within 24 hours, and day after day I would try to call and get nothing back. Emails also went unheeded. I again took to Facebook and Twitter and I simply got the same stock response, “we are sorry for your continued frustration, we will forward your message to your customer service representative.” After over a week I finally got an email response that stated since I waived the service, they would only be able to reimburse half of the cost of the new diagnosis. I responded stating the technician did not do the job correctly, so why am I paying him another time? I never got a response.
After several irritating weeks of trying to talk to Sears, contacting them through social media, and even emailing some higher ups in the company (I never heard back from them either), I gave up. Sears was not going to help their customer, so I told them that I would be writing articles explaining how a once great company has slipped to next to nothing customer service.
But I do not want to just rant on about how Sears has products that break and how their customer service is some of the worst I have ever seen. Instead, I want to give a call out to encourage people to shop local. You see, the same issue happened to a friend within the past few years, except they had purchased from a local store. Their dishwasher had conked out, and they went back to the local appliance store to discuss options. The store suggested they talk to the manufacturer who just gave them the run around. They returned to the store and essentially the manager used his pull with Kitchenaid to have the customer receive a brand new unit. They may have saved $50 by going to a big box store, but the excellent customer service provided by a hardworking local store made it all worthwhile.
Sears seems bent on being the slowest failing company of all time. I rarely ever see anyone in the parking lot (I refuse to shop at their store anymore), and I don’t hear anything good about the products (remember when Craftsman was a respected brand?) or their service. Unless they get their act together, this 128 year old company might not live to see 130. I know my bad experience has already dissuaded many of my friends from shopping there.