Sears Customer Service: It’d Be Faster for Me to Become a Repairman Myself

My refrigerator went out, along with all my power, when Hurricane Irene hit New Jersey on August 28. When the lights finally came back on a week later, the refrigerator did not. It’s a 2006 Kenmore purchased at Sears, and where I live, Sears is the only company that has qualified repair technicians to service it. So I called them to schedule a repair. Was I upset that a five-year-old appliance had already failed? Sure. But I tried to think positively. It had already been a long week with no power during the storm.

The earliest that Sears could send a repairman was yesterday—a full week and a half after I tried to schedule an appointment. Again, I tried to be patient given the vast number of people with all kinds of storm damage.

As of yesterday, I’d been without a refrigerator for two and a half weeks. The repairman showed up on time, quickly discerned that a basic fan had died, and said he should be able to fix it immediately. It is apparently a common problem with Kenmore refrigerators.

Then he realized he didn’t have a new fan in his truck. He’d have to order one. Apparently, Sears repairmen don’t carry standard parts for common problems.

“It’s going to be okay,” he said. “I’ll put you into the system for another service call at the first opening we have, which is September 21. But you won’t have to wait that long. If the part comes in early, you can get moved back up to this week because you’ve been without a working refrigerator for so long. We can bump you ahead of people who at least have some way to keep food refrigerated.”

He then charged me $201.34 and said I’d owe another $128.40 when he came back to install the fan. I didn’t even argue. I just wanted it fixed already.

The fan arrived today, about 24 hours after he was standing in my kitchen and taking my money. So I called the phone number he’d given me to move up the appointment for installation. I started out with a guy who sounded not-so-American telling me that I had to stick with September 21. I told him I was not going to wait another full week, and that it should not take three weeks to fix a basic fan in a standard refrigerator, hurricane or not. This was about service that had been promised, not parts being unavailable.

I asked to speak with a supervisor. He left me on hold for 46 minutes, and then the Sears phone system hung up on me.

Three phone calls later, after being hung up on once again by the Sears system, I finally got a supervisor on the phone at Sears here in America. She was as polite as she could be as she told me that I would, in fact, have to wait another week to install the part that is sitting on my kitchen counter, despite what the technician told me yesterday. The company has been very busy since the hurricane, she said. I suppose it hasn’t occurred to them to add extra repairmen to their staff to clear the backlog.

So now I’m stuck waiting yet another week, and I’ll still have to pay in full even though I’m not receiving the service in the timely manner that I was promised when I handed over two-thirds of the estimated final charge. Assuming there are no additional problems on September 21—and that’s a big assumption—I’ll end up having to go almost a full month without a working refrigerator. I could take a class and become a repairman myself in the time it’s taking Sears to get this Kenmore refrigerator fixed.

What a joke Sears is when it comes to customer service and repairs. I’ll never buy another appliance from them again.

6 comments

  1. Dear Ms. Kavin,

    My name is Laura with Sears Cares; I found your post here and I wanted to reach out and apologize on behalf of Sears for the difficulties that have occurred with your refrigerator repair. Having an appliance that we depend on fail is frustrating enough without adding on the delayed service, misinformation and lack of customer service that you’ve experienced. While our repair technicians do carry some parts on their trucks, we cannot always guarantee that the part needed for a specific repair will be available. That being said, I am sorry you were informed your service could be moved up once the part arrived when this turned out not to be the case. I can certainly understand how upset you must be at having to speak with so many different people only to be told that the date cannot be changed and you still have to pay full price for the repair. It is true that we have been busy since Hurricane Irene and, because we require highly trained technicians, we cannot increase our workforce rapidly enough to accommodate all our customers in this time of need. As a result, service appointments can be scheduled further out than desired and it can be very difficult to provide sooner service. This is not an excuse for what has happened to you, merely an explanation. At Sears, we pride ourselves on making sure our valued customers are satisfied with our products and services and it appears we have failed to meet that goal for you on multiple levels. The Sears Cares team is a single point of contact for escalated concerns which means we step into a situation and personally handle it start to finish. We would very much like to speak with you regarding your repair experience and work towards a satisfactory resolution.

    At your convenience, please contact our office via email at smsupport@searshc.com and a personal case manager will contact you within 24 business hours. In the email, please provide a contact phone number, the phone number the refrigerator is being serviced under (if different than the contact phone number), and please do include your name (Kim Kavin) for reference to your issue. Again, we apologize for the inconvenience this situation has caused and we thank you for the opportunity to assist in whatever way we can.

    Thank you,
    Laura D.
    Social Media Moderator
    Sears Social Media Support

  2. Dear Laura D,

    Of course I’m happy to e-mail you. I have nothing but free time in my life to spend contacting ever more people at Sears (where my telephone number is already in the computer system, by the way).

  3. I remember buying an oven/stove from sears, with the promise it would be installed. the appliance had an open-ended cord (no plug but bare wires) but we had a socket. They said since they fitted it in the space that it was “installed” and their job was done. I remember calling their customer service and complaining and the woman was nice, but referred me to their store manager. He was okay, gave some money back, but told me I needed to find an electrician.

    I’d bought a washer, dryer, several ac units from Sears and always tried to give them my business when it made sense because it was a good store in yesteryear. But not anymore. If they can’t stand behind their service, what’s the point? That’s all they really have to offer over cheaper competitors.

  4. Update 1: Sears’ executive whatever called last night and said he would work to move my appointment up to the timeframe I was promised when I paid. We’ll see.

    Update 2: A Sears telemarketer just called to let me know the company will be in my area giving estimates for new home siding. You know, in case I want to give sears another $50,000 when I can’t even get them to fix my damn refrigerator on time!

  5. Further update: The Sears executive whatever has “succeeded” in moving my installation appointment up by a half-day. So instead of having to wait eight more days, I only have to wait seven. (When I was told it would be three at most.)

    And I’ve now pretty much lost that half-day anyway having to deal with the Sears executive whatever in the first place. What another absolute waste of my time.

    I stand by my original opinion. Sears customer service is a joke. They have lost a customer for life.

  6. These stories are a great example of a once strong company shooting itself in the foot and losing the opportunity to retain customers. Very disappointing that they are not willing to invest the resources necessary to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations.

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