Sears — don't buy protection agreements!
I worked for Sears as a call center operator. If you call in for customer service, say to schedule a service appointment or just to ask a question about an appliance you purchased, whoever you're talking to is trained to try to sell you a protection agreement. This is how it works.
You call in because of a problem with your washer. I pull up your account and what I'm trained to do is not necessarily solve your problem- I might transfer you across the room to the service department if you need a service call, but first I'll say, "Mr. Smith, I see here that you bought a dishwasher a couple of years ago and that you purchased the protection agreement there in the store. Did you know that agreement is about to expire? Why don't we go ahead and renew that for you." If you say you're not interested, I say, "Well, it's going to be cheaper for you in the long run- you know, you might have to pay out some money for this service call for your washing machine- you don't want to have to deal with that if your dishwasher breaks down, too, do you?"
If you agree to renew your agreement, I then say, "You know what? I could actually save you some more money- we could add your dryer and your garage door opener in with this agreement, they'd all be covered and you'll get a multi-item discount!" By the time I've finished with you, you've purchased $800.00 worth of protection agreements from me for appliances that might not even break down or, by the time they do, you most likely would be ready to replace with a new one anyway. THEN you get transferred and put on hold for another ten minutes waiting to schedule an appointment for your washer that you'll actually have to pay for out of pocket.
When you do call in for a service appointment for an item that's covered, some- not all- Sears' repairmen will look for a reason not to honor your agreement with Sears. "That problem is due to normal wear and tear- it's not covered under your agreeement." Or "The manufacturer doesn't even make that part anymore..." and they note on your account the code for "Part Not Available" and they do not do the repairs.
When you call in to find out why you were charged for a service call, you get the department that's trained to sell agreements again- and whoever you talk to has only one goal: To sell you an agreement. After all, they are paid commission for agreements that they sell- Some people make an additional 200.00/month or more doing this. So you call in, and whoever you talk to says, "Hey, by the way, the protection agreement on your stove is about to expire! Let's go ahead and renew that for ya..." That's when you lose your temper and say, "THAT'S HOW I GOT IN THIS MESS IN THE FIRST PLACE! I PAID YOU GUYS HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS OVER THE YEARS TO COVER THIS WASHING MACHINE AND NOW YOU WON'T FIX IT!!" Once we realize that we're not getting any money out of you, you're transferred back to service where you started when you made the appointment, and you go back and forth with them. Sometimes, you're transferred back to us, because it's a "Protection Agreement" issue. Then you're transferred back to them because it's a "Service" issue.
If you ask to speak to a manager, we're trained not to transfer you- we are supposed to work out the problem ourselves. If we do transfer you, we're probably transferring you to another department, not a manager. You might think you're talking to someone about your protection agreement or a problem you're having with Sears honoring it, but you're not talking to a customer service representative- you are talking to a salesperson. Once they realize you're not going to buy anything, you become wasted call time- time they could be spending on another caller who they might be able to talk into purchasing or renewing an agreement- and you are transferred to another department, and a lot of times, any other department will do. We know if you call back to complain that you were transferred to the wrong department, you won't get us anyway- you'll get someone else maybe in an entirely different state in another call center, and they won't care about your problem, either.
Another common problem is store salesmen selling customers protection agreements at the time of purchase- they will sell you an agreement and tell you ANYTHING to get you to buy it. They will tell you things are covered that really aren't- like lightning strikes for televisions or a hose for your washer (that's an "expendable part"- not covered under our agreement!) They will tell you you're paying far less in the store than you would if you called in to purchase the protection agreement later- not necessarily true. If you balk, they might offer you a cheaper price for being a "good customer". You think you just scored a huge discount- when you call in to schedule the free yearly maintenance on your heat pump, we tell you that our records show you didn't purchase a Master Protection Agreement as you were told- you actually purchased the cheaper Repair Protection Agreement- yearly service isn't covered under that agreement, but would you like to upgrade to a Master Protection Agreement? Because if you do, we can schedule your service appointment and you'll be covered for any future repairs should you need them- as long as they're covered under our contract. Sometimes, store salesmen will sell customers these agreements, figure it into the final cost of the item and the customer never even knows he purchased it.
I am so glad I don't work there anymore. It was not a fulfilling job at all. You don't sleep well at night knowing you just sold some old lady $3, 000 worth of protection agreements that she'll likely never use. Please be careful when buying these protection agreements- so many people pay more money to cover their appliances than they paid for the appliances themselves. If you purchase a 5-year agreement, your appliance is most likely not going to break down before it's five years old, so you've paid out that money for nothing. Five years later, you go to renew, and the price is MUCH higher because your items are that much older.
It's a much smarter decision to put that money into savings and earmark it for appliance repairs or replacement should you need it. Figure these costs into your budget when you purchase an appliance and just pay for any needed repairs yourself.