I bought a Sears Elite front loading washer, one of the most expensive models because I trusted the brand. Well, I was wrong. One day the machine, about 18 months old, just stopped working, giving error codes when I tried to start the machine. I had an extended service contract and am I sorry to have done this too. After almost three weeks, it’s still not fixed.
Here are the gory details: 1. Place first call to set up a service appointment. I am given an appointment 2 days away. So far to good. 2. Day of appointment arrives. By 5:00 pm, no technician has yet called. I call Sears to see if someone will still come. I am told that the technical had just finished call number 8 and I was call number 14. Well, as you can guess, things go downhill from here. I might have expected the technician to realize that he just wasn’t going to make it through all his calls and proactively re-book the ones he wasn’t going to get too. No such creative Service. Since it was after 5:00 pm, the next appointment I could get was now three days away. No hope of any priority treatment due to Sears’s failure. I call a second time just to make sure there was no chance of improvement. Hey, I had an expectation of making good on one’s promises. I spotted this great line “I’ll send a message to routing.” Hey, that’s great. Routing must ignore the whole lot: customer A wants a sooner time, customer B, C, D, etc. 3. At this date, a technician shows up, tells me I need a part that has to be ordered. He tells me that he can only order it via ground shipment which his system told us was going to take two weeks! He reschedules me for 2 weeks. He tells me to call and ask to have the part expedited by paying the difference between ground and faster shipping (gee, 2 days shipping sounded great to me!!!). I call three different times and get three different answers from “only the technician can expedite shipping” to “that’s impossible.” I go through the usual steps: ask to speak with a supervisor. None are available – guess that keeps their desks clear and phone lines free and absolves them of any customer oriented responsibilities: “Oh! Those pesky customers who bought our appliances and have the totally absurd idea that they should be fixed in a timely manner.” I was promised that someone would call me back. Another ploy to get the customer off the line. Of course, it goes without saying that no one called back. 4. I waited five days and called to get the status of the part. I was hoping that the shipping was faster than expected. Oh, I am given some good news, I am told that the part was indeed expedited and would arrive in 2 days. I am ecstatic. He books an appointment for me. This day comes and goes but no part arrives. Hmm.. time to go back through that awful voice recognition system. Well, the phone rep checks and says, oh, no the part was not expedited after all and gave me the UPS tracking number. 5. After getting the UPS delivery date from their tracking system -- UPS is normally trustable on that -- I make yet another call to Sears to rebook an appointment. The phone rep wants to make an appointment for afternoon the day of expected delivery. I offer, “shouldn’t we make it for the day after?” “No need,” he answers, “This will all work.” Silly me to have listened!! 6. What happens next you ask? Technician calls. But no part. UPS delivers part after 7:00 pm. UPS doesn’t get a gold star for that bit of performance. 7. I call to rebook an appointment and am now given an appointment 3 days away. Not bad you might say. But my washer will be out of service for 3 weeks. And what guarantee do I have? Anyway the “after hours” Sears phone reps tell me they have can’t do anything and that there are no supervisors to talk to – a claim which leaves me incredulous – and that I have to call back in the morning. 8. I get out my schematic for the washer to see if I can install the part myself. Doesn’t look hard…but I determine that’s probably not the best path. And finally, 9. I call first thing in the morning. I love it: total willingness to send that email to Routing. Great, save your typing fingers. I ask to speak to the mysterious priesthood known as the Supervisors. I am told I will be transferred. Will I finally talk to this exalted class of person? No, it was not to be, I am discounted. Call again, (same insane voice response system), try again, this time I get passed to customer service. Ah, ha, am I warm? Sadly, no. I get a message saying they are not open and that I should call the infamous 1-800-4My-Home. Ok, try again. Phone rep actually seems to take some initiate – see, it is possible – and I actually talk to someone in Routing (maybe, it was an impersonator?) which many had denied was even a remote possibility. And the end of my quest: I get an appoint ½ day sooner. I have taken 4 days off from work. The next appointment will be the 5th day. I have called Sears a total of 13 times. And of course, my washer is not yet fixed.
This is a strong warning not to purchase Sears extended warranties. They make money on the contracts but the service level is abysmal if it can be called service at all. There is no culture of Customer Service (capital “C” and capital “S”) or of taking the initiative to solve a bona fide customer problem. There is no accountability and no willingness to compensate for their own errors. The phone staff is poorly trained which is why I could receive so many incorrect and conflicting answers. There are no available supervisors to help sort out the thorny issues. The idea that a part could not be shipped 2-day or even overnight – when I was willing to pay for this is likewise absurd. The part took 8 full days from its shipment date to arrive at my house via UPS ground. The USPS would have been faster. Do I feel confident a technician will actually show up for my next appointment? No. Do I feel confident that it will be fixed? No. Am I feeling like a valued customer? No. Will I ever buy anything from Sears again? Certainly, no! Will I ever recommend anyone to buy a Sears appliance? No, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
Contrast this with Dell: I ordered a part from Dell. It was a pleasant and painless process. The part shipped in within 2 days and was delivered in three days by DHL. Perfect. Obviously, I could have paid for faster shipping if needed. IBM gave me an even better level of service. I called for a warranty issue and the item in question was shipped that day for next day delivery. Man, it can be done and boy, was I impressed! And IBM is a huge bureaucracy but it understands Customer Service!! And we all know that the PC industry runs on a thin margin.
Sears has no excuses. It doesn’t deserve our business any longer.