Sears Brands — kenmore elite intuition canister vacuum cleaner 21814 and the 5-yr master protection agreement
This is the third Kenmore canister vac I've owned in 15 years. I purchased it in 2014 at Sears for $479.99 plus the 5YR warranty for $84.99.
I've had the vacuum for 2 yrs 8 months. Two parts have broken and been replaced, and now one of the replaced parts has broken again. Here's a timeline that explains why I'm so upset with Sears.
5/11/14 - Purchase Date
5/9/15 - We were told the 5-yr protection plan included coverage of yearly maintenance, so I called to find out where I could take the vacuum for this maintenance. To my shock, I couldn't take it anywhere. If I wanted to take advantage of the maintenance, I would need to drop it off at Sears and then it would be shipped to Texas for the maintenance! Texas! (We're in WI.) I decided not to take it in because A) I wouldn't have had a vacuum for 3-4 weeks, and B) I worried that it would get damaged during shipping. What I requested instead (and this took A LOT of phone calls) was for Sears to provide me with filters and bags that I could use over the next 5 years, because those things are supposed to be changed out during the yearly maintenance. Luckily, they obliged.
7/16/15 - Part number 33 of the Powermate base unit (the furniture guard that wraps around the unit) fell off. Now, without this part, you can't vacuum along woodwork or near furniture without fear of damaging these things. The part is basically a bumper to protect items in your home and the base unit itself. Since I have the 5-yr warranty, I called to see if a new furniture guard could be sent to me. Instead of sending just a guard (which would have been difficult to attach to my existing base), the service rep sent an all new powermate base unit. I was off the phone in 10 minutes and received the new base within a week.
9/9/16 - Part number 6 of the floor brush (the swivel pipe) broke, causing the wand to separate from the base whenever I was vacuuming. This made it impossible to vacuum. Again, I called to request a replacement. The call did not go as smoothly as when I called in July 2015 to request a replacement for the furniture guard, but when all was said and done, I was sent a new swivel pipe. Great, right? Wait for it...
1st person - I called the number (for PARTS) I'd called two times previously regarding replacement parts covered under warranty. The person I got this time said I called the wrong number. She gave me a different number for WARRANTY and then transferred me.
2nd person - Said I was transferred to the wrong department and transferred me to the PARTS PROTECTION DEPARTMENT.
3rd person - Said I was supposed to call the PARTS department, which I called in the first place! **I should note that each time I got on the phone with someone new, I had to re-explain what I was calling for.** So I get transferred again--back to parts!
4th person - (At this point I start asking names.) Armin (said his supervisor's name is Spencer) with Parts Direct tells me the part I need cannot be shipped. Instead I have to schedule for a service tech to come to my home to fix it or verify that it's broken at which point a replacement would be ordered. BUT, if I need a new part, I will have to pay for it and will only get a 25% discount courtesy of my 5 yr parts warranty. Excuse me? I've had to have this part replaced once before, and at that time, the service rep sent it to my home. So why isn't it covered now? Armin tells me the two reps who'd previously sent me replacement parts should not have done so, that they did so erroneously. That made absolutely no sense to me (how could two separate employees make the same error a year apart?), so I asked to speak with someone else. Armin gladly transferred me.
5th person - Austin, a technical specialist, listens to my issue. He informs me that the actual reason why a replacement part cannot be sent out is because the price has increased since 2015, so it is no longer covered under the 5-yr master protection plan (warranty)! Seriously? He mentioned some prices while we were talking, and then I realized at one point that I should be writing everything down. I remembered that he'd said the 2015 price for the part was $69 and asked him to repeat the 2017 price, which I know he stated was over $300. But then he told me he never said how much it was now and that he isn't even allowed to tell me the prices. What? Why? He'd already told me the prices previously but then when I asked him to repeat so I can jot them down, he says he can't? I was so confused at that point and probably should have let it go, but I needed answers. So I asked to talk to someone else.
6th person - Ana tells me that I should take the vacuum back to where I purchased it for an exchange. Yes, to exchange the entire vacuum. Since I'd already received two replacement parts and now need another, she says it qualifies as a lemon. I tell her I don't want a new vacuum, just the replacement part, but she maintains that the part is no covered. So, I ask her for the number of the original store and she gives it to me. Then I request that she calls the store to explain my situation and verify that they will in fact exchange the vacuum. Ana hangs up on me. I'm not making this up, folks.
7th person - I call back and get Angela. She listens to my entire story and then proceeds to explain how/why the part I need may no longer be covered when it had been covered in the past. She says it doesn't have anything to do with the price going up but that maybe it actually wasn't covered way back when a new one was sent to me in 2015, that the person I spoke with might not have checked the approved parts list. When I asked her about the second replacement part I was sent "in error" she did agree that it seemed weird for two reps to make the same mistake. Then she then went off on a tangent explaining to me that since the two parts I'd previously received weren't actually covered under the protection plan that Sears would have had to pay the warranty company for the parts. Sorry, buy I couldn't care less about any of that. Anyway... Since it sounded like there was no way I would be getting a new Powermate base unit, I asked if she could just send me the cheap rubber furniture guard. She puts me on old and comes back to inform me that even that part isn't covered anymore! So then I asked her if she could tell me exactly which parts are still covered. She put me on hold and then 10 minutes later a DIFFERENT person asked how she could help me. Angela had transferred me AGAIN!
8th person - Once again, I have to explain EVERYTHING to Dawn. When I get to the part when I ask Dawn to tell me exactly which parts are still covered, she puts me on hold. I was relieved when she came back and started naming the covered parts. So since I can't get the part that I actually need and it seems that Sears will be going out of business soon, I ask her if she can just go ahead and send me all the parts that are covered. Yeah, kind of a ridiculous request considering none of those parts are broken on my vacuum, but after the ridiculousness of the situation--the maze of people I've been transferred around to--I don't care. So she tells me to hold so she can transfer me to someone who can send me all the parts. I wait, and wait, and wait...
9th person - I explain what I need to Kathy and she stops me and asks, "Wait, are you talking about a vacuum?" Yes. "Oh, well, I don't deal with vacuum parts. I work with large appliances and garage doors. Where are you calling from?" Turns out, Kathy is located at an actual Sears location in Phoenix, AZ and she has no idea why Dawn transferred me to her. OMG. So Kathy apologizes for the hassle and tells me my best bet would be to call the store manager of the Sears location where I purchased the vac. She assures me he will help. She also gives me the direct number to the warranty department, so I try calling that number first...
10th person - I waited on hold for 61 minutes before someone finally answered. I didn't even bother to write down her name because I had just had it. Besides, will the names even matter anyway? Clearly, Sears doesn't care anymore because if they did, customers would not go through this type of situation. Anyway... I tell the girl how long I was on hold and that I now have very little time to explain my situation to her because I need to take my son to piano lessons. She says, "Oh, I'm so sorry about that." Then, as I'm responding, the call disconnects.
11th person - (next day) Around 9 a.m., I called the local Sears to speak with the manager as Kathy in Phoenix, AZ suggested I should do. The operator takes my name and number and assures me Jim Day will return my call. It's now 1:20 and I still haven't heard from him.
Despite the broken parts, I still like the vacuum. The motor still runs fine, and I still like all of the features, such as the dirt sensor, the extendable wand, the swivel head, etc. It's just so frustrating when exterior parts break and when a company doesn't stand behind their product by honoring protection agreements. It's also terrible the way I was transferred from person to person and none of them had a cohesive understanding of how to handle my situation. I feel like most of the people I conversed with simply chose a number from a master company directory and transferred me. Something has happened to Sears, something bad. The company is no longer customer friendly and will likely suffer terribly as a result.
I remember going to Sears with my parents when I was a kid. It was always *the* place to buy appliances, tools, and lawn care items. Sadly, this experience has tarnished my feelings for the company and Kenmore products, and I will never purchase the brand again.
Updated by Chloe Jelane, Feb 02, 2017
I forgot to mention this part:
2/1/17 - Part number 33 broke again! So I called to request another replacement. I ended up on the phone talking to people for about 2 hours in addition to being on hold for about an hour. Yes, that's right, I spent a total of 3 hours trying to get a replacement part, which had previously been covered by the 5-yr master protection warranty. (Keep in mind, we've only had the vacuum for 2 yrs 8 months.) What was the outcome? The part will NOT be replaced unless I pay 75% of the cost. Why? That's what I wanted to understand and why I was on the phone for so long with a grand total of 10 different people...
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