Monday, October 26, 2009

Sears "Master Protection Agreement" and Home Repair Service Problems

Thursday, October 26th, 2009

Sears Holding
Attn: Appliance Complaint Center
3333 Beverly Rd.
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179

I am writing regarding our Kenmore UltraWash Dishwasher, model # 665-13889

It was purchased for $637.49 on August 3rd, 2008 and we also purchased an extended service agreement for $129.99 that expires on August 7th, 2011. This came to a grand total of $812.10

We had problems with this dishwasher from the day it was received. The dishwasher never seemed to get dishes “clean” and we had lots of issues with cycles not completing. This is designed as a high efficiency dishwasher with many different cycles, but we were unable to get dishes clean unless we used the pots and pans cycle at all times. This was frustrating, but I thought perhaps with all these new features and the sensor technology it was a learning curve that we needed to get past. My husband and I jokingly referred to it as a “lemon” from the start. Eventually the dishwasher started performing only intermittently, and some pots and pans cycles would take HOURS with clean dishes as a result, and times the same cycle would last only 20 minutes and then the dishwasher would say the dishes were clean, but of course they were not. The sanitize and heat dry functions stopped working also. It was then that I called sears and spoke to a troubleshooting technician who agreed there was something really wrong. A technician was scheduled to be sent to my house.

The technician arrived on October 5th, 2009. He agreed that the dishwasher was not functioning properly and noted that the water was not moving through the dishwasher as it should, if at all. He ordered several parts for replacement, and scheduled a return visit for one week, on October 12th, 2009. There were 5 parts ordered to be replaced on this second visit, including the spray arm, the pump, the heater, and the filter. The technician had some issues with the installation, and stated that he had recently had the same issue with another identical part. The new spray arm was broken in the process of installation and the dishwasher was left completely non-functional. The water was turned off by the technician as a precaution to it being accidentally turned on. The technician was personable and thorough, and told me that two new parts would be arriving, and to call and schedule the repair appointment when they arrived, and then he would bring a second technician out with him because it would take TWO technicians to repair the dishwasher and install that part. So, before the repair appointment, the dishwasher was limping along, not working reliably, but working occasionally. After the appointment, the dishwasher was left completely non-functional.

Right before the parts arrived, I called to check on the expected arrival of the parts and also to make the repair appointment. I was told that because the repair required two technicians, AND because my area is only serviced on Mondays and Wednesdays, it would be almost two full weeks before there could be another appointment made (October 26th, 2009). At this time I was very upset, and asked for alternatives. My call was escalated at my insistence and I was told there were simply no sooner service dates available to me. My husband agreed that this was an unacceptable amount of time to wait. He called Sears and spent FIVE HOURS on the phone with various departments. He was repeatedly transferred and told there was nothing that could be done. He was told by TWO people that we would be called back, the latter person told him that they would find us a sooner appointment and call us with the date and time. This did not happen. Our parts arrived on October 15th, 2009 but we still had to wait for eleven more days for a service technician to replace them.

Today, October 26, 2009, was the scheduled date for the two remaining parts to be installed by the TWO technicians. They arrived and began the installation. They discovered when opening the replacement spray arm that although the CORRECT Spray arm had been ordered, an incorrect spray arm had been shipped. They were unable to replace the spray arm. They put the broken spray arm on the dishwasher, and told me that it would likely be partially functional, although not repaired. I was told and shown that the spray arm we had was missing two of the four plastic tabs that hold it to the dishwasher floor. They stated that the spray arm may come off because there are only two tabs, and that if the spray arm came off, I would be able to reattach it myself and then use it until it came off again, at which time it would need to be reattached. A new spray arm was being ordered, but it was not clear when it would arrive, because of the issue with the incorrect part. They told me that the part had to be checked into manually because the part they sent does not match the part information for the part that was ordered. And then of course there have to be two technicians. I asked if we could schedule my next repair appointment NOW, in order to stop us from having to wait for another two weeks. They told me that the earliest they can come back is NOVEMBER 30th. Today is October 26th. That is more than ONE MONTH without a dishwasher. They did tell me that if the part came, and if it was the correct one, I could install it myself and then cancel the repair appointment. And while I appreciate that tip, we did NOT purchase a warranty and repair service agreement so that I could determine if the part was correct and install it myself.

After the technicians left this afternoon, I ran one cycle in the dishwasher (I chose the 1-hour wash), and before the cycle was complete, the spray arm had already dislodged itself. When trying to reattach it, I saw that there is now only one plastic tab out of four still attached... and the lower spin arm will not stay attached or function at all. Replacing the spray arm after each cycle (assuming that it even lasts the cycle) is not an appropriate “solution” for our issue. At this point the spray arm cannot even be replaced anymore as it is permanently damaged.

While the technicians have been personable, polite, and I believe knowledgeable, the phone service that we have been offered has been less than acceptable. Very rarely were we given any information and VERY rarely did someone at Sears take it on as their own issue and attempt to resolve or improve our issue, even with our insistence that we were being treated unfairly.

At this point, I would like to mention that we almost entirely Kenmore appliances, including a Refrigerator, Microwave, Dishwasher, High Efficiency Front-loading clothes dryer, High capacity Washing machine, Upright Deep Freezer, Water Softener, and Sewing Machine. We also purchased a $500+ Nikon DSLR camera at Sears, and purchase many of our electronics, clothing for ourselves and our 2 children, and many houseware items at Sears. We own Craftsman hand and power tools and a Craftsman Riding lawn mower. We also have purchased prescription eyeglasses and more than $400 in portraits from your Sears Portrait Studios. My husband was a Sears employee and salesman at our local Sears store until it closed several years ago. When we call Sears, we are greeted and thanked for being premiere customers. But at this point we would be better treated at a small town appliance store, and that is where we are planning on taking our business if this problem is not resolved in a prompt and agreeable manner.

At this time, I am being told (by a Sears employee named “Mack”, extension 15640, telephone 800-927-7836) that because the parts to repair this dishwasher are still “available”, we do not qualify for your “no lemon” guarantee under our protection agreement. Mack told me that the technicians have escalated the situation and a decision will be made by this Friday (October 30th, 4 days from today) whether or not the parts will be available in a week, or if they may perhaps pursue a replacement dishwasher.

My argument at this time is that Sears has spent HUNDREDS of dollars in parts alone, in order to “repair” this dishwasher. There have been three service calls (labor and mileage expenses) and one of those service calls included two technicians, arriving in TWO Separate vans. There is still more parts to be ordered and at least one more service call, involving two technicians, that will need to happen to repair this dishwasher. The receipt I am holding in my hand, for TODAY’s visit, states that parts came to a total of $506.93 (heater, sensor, diverter, filter, spray arm, pump and motor), and labor for today’s visit totaled $135. This leads me to believe that Sears has spent more than $640 of their money, and more than THREE WEEKS of my time, to give me a dishwasher that is still not functioning although it is still covered by a repair agreement that we PURCHASED with the understanding that our appliance would be functioning. This is MORE than the initial cost of the dishwasher itself. How does this not warrant replacing the dishwasher? And why do we have to wait ANOTHER 4 days before the decision can be made?

We have two small children, 25 months and 6 months old, and we rely heavily on this dishwasher for both DAILY wash cycles and sanitizing breast pump parts, bottles, pacifiers, and teethers. We spent extra money to have a sanitizing dishwasher for these reasons. Being without a dishwasher for the past 3 weeks has been unacceptable. Being without a functioning dishwasher until November 30th is ABSOLUTELY not acceptable. We are frustrated and disappointed that Sears is making this OUR problem, instead of theirs.

PLEASE have someone who can make a decision, contact us via telephone immediately. We would love to have more information on what decision is being made about our appliance, and why.

Thank you for your time.

Evan and Meagan Johnson
“Sears Premiere Customers” of 12 years

Sears Home Services
Western Great Lakes
4260M S. 76th Street

Greenfield, WI

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