Archive for the ‘Sears’ Category

Sears – a saga of customer "service"

Friday, July 20th, 2007

Sometimes appliances die. Sure. But we baby boomers grew up in a world where major ones, like refrigerators, died maybe in 20 or 30 years, if ever. I’m going to chronicle my sad personal saga as it happens–a  good thing to do with a corporate blog if you can tie it to how your customers will never experience this kind of thing with your company.

The refrigerator in my totally rehabbed condo was original and new about 4.5 years ago. We think (can’t check because it was spirited away from its spot in my Chicago alley almost as soon as it was put out there) it was a Frigidaire and looked like this. Okay, so last February I had spent $225 (more than 25% of the original cost of the refrigerator) getting something-to-do-with-but-not-the-compressor repaired. Early this week when I reach for a Dove Bite treat that there is soup inside where the ice cream is supposed to be. I realize the refrigerator has quit worki–ng again–clearly already for several days–early this week. So I called the same repair people.

The gentleman arrives. Of course, has to leave the door ajar while he investigates, so dreams of my food remaining cold are out the window.  Concludes, after a lengthy examination, that the computer board has shorted out. Shows me the dark spot. Yes, I say. Well, he says, I don’t have one on my truck. I’ll have to come back tomorrow–and you’ll have to throw all your food away.

I remain hopeful–after all, he didn’t leave the freezer open all that time. Even it it thaws, that stuff ought to still be cold.

Next day 11 a.m. arrives and the guy doesn’t. I call him at noon and he’s clearly forgotten about me. I ask, do you think I should just buy a new refrigerator? Well, hard to say, ma’am. Okay, he finally does arrive around 3. Fools around a while and then installs the new board. Calls me out of my office and says, ma’am, you need to buy a new refrigerator. Shows me where the new board shorted out instantly.

The man takes some pity on me and agrees he will only charge me a service charge for a single call. I pay.

On a colleague’s advice I hike out to the Sears Outlet store to look over the scatch-and-dent collection on sale there. A huge showroom floor is jammed with refrigerators in various stages of defacement. I’m nervous. Worry that scratch-and-dent could mean worse. Even as I insist on the sales guy answering questions about service and warranties and so on, he assures me that I can buy an extended warranty (something I’ve never done on anything–I worked in the car business just long enough to know that dealers count on them for extra profit and they often don’t deliver what the purchaser expects).

I’m nervous not only because of the scratch-and-dent thing, but also because my own not-very-old refrigerator has cost me a lot of money and died anyway. So I pick one out–looks almost exactly like the old one but it’s a Kenmore–and agree to purchase the 3-year extended warranty for $150–half the $300 the price tag tells me I’m saving on the price of the refrigerator. Supposedly guarantees me free unlimited service, free preventive maintenance, with the trusty if-we-can’t-fix-it-we’ll-give-you-another clause.

The fridge arrives. Next episode tomorrow.