What should I do about my cursed Kenmore appliances?

By | November 17th, 2016

Nicole Wildes’ new Kenmore appliances are a nightmare. Can she get them fixed without running up a big bill?

Question: Last spring, I bought a Kenmore refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher and garage door operating system from Sears. The first refrigerator broke after four months, and the second was not only defective but also installed improperly, resulting in a pin-size water leak that destroyed our new kitchen floor.

The dishwasher was also installed improperly and almost caused a fire. This is all documented by our electrician, who we had to pay for to repair the installer’s mistake.

The exterior of the stove reached a temperature of 160 degrees, according to an infrared thermometer, and I have two burns from where my arm brushed along the outside. The garage door was also not installed properly and sounds like a dying animal every time I open it. I’ve invested more time and energy in trying to get this situation rectified than I care to admit.

After hours and hours spent talking to Sears, their solution was to allow me to exchange the Kenmore appliances for Samsung appliances. But because Sears did not have the comparable Samsung refrigerator, I had to pay an additional $700 for an upgraded model.

So after months of aggravation, lost family time, physical scars, destroyed flooring, money, and energy, I was out an additional $700 but supposed to feel grateful that Sears was willing to exchange my broken and defective appliances.

Today, three of the four Samsung appliances were finally delivered. Why three? Because instead of a Samsung microwave, the men brought a Kenmore. The refrigerator was not plugged in because the delivery man said ‘we don’t do that.’ They also did not connect the water line (which the first two delivery crews did connect), nor did they level the refrigerator. There was a checklist taped to the fridge that said hookup and leveling are part of the installer’s responsibilities. Also the stove was supposed to be secured with an anti-tip device.

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As a busy working mom with two little girls, I can’t tell you what a nightmare this has been. No water or ice from the fridge, hand-washing dishes, yelling to keep everyone far away from the stove in a galley kitchen. While I recognize (and I’m even grateful for) these are first-world problems, this never should have happened.

I respect customer care for following their protocol, but extenuating circumstances should offer some allowances. Shopping at Sears cost me more money than it would have if I had gone somewhere else. I’m so disappointed with my experience and the lack of competency and accountability.

I would like to have some sort of compensation for the time and energy spent trying to get this issue resolved. I want my microwave delivered and installed, the anti-tip device installed on the stove, and the fridge leveled with the water supply hose hooked up. I would like Sears to refund the cost of the electrician and pay to get my flooring repaired. — Nicole Wildes, Downingtown, Pa.

Answer: Wow, what a total appliance nightmare. Sears should have sold you a working refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher and garage door. It should have installed these appliances correctly and then stood behind them when they began to fail.

Clearly, that didn’t happen.

Your experience represents a failure on so many levels, it’s hard to deconstruct. Sears and Kenmore are frequent offenders in this column, and there are ample warnings online about the reliability of the appliances you purchased.

But I can’t really blame you for buying your appliances through Sears, or making the choice you did. After all, the company promises it sells only “top-notch appliances to help keep your household running smoothly.”

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When things started to break down, you tried to put out the fires (some literally) one at a time. But at some point, when you realized that every one of these appliances was cursed, you needed to send a comprehensive complaint to someone higher up at Sears. I list the names, email addresses and phone numbers of Sears’ executives on my advocacy site.

You could have invoked the warranty on your appliances. But unless you purchase one of Kenmore’s extended service agreements, the company probably couldn’t have — or wouldn’t have — done much more than it already did.

I contacted Sears on your behalf. You also continued to negotiate with Sears for a better resolution. Eventually, Sears replaced the microwave and fixed the garage, but it declined to repair your floor. You also were stuck with the $700 bill for your refrigerator upgrade.

After this sort-of resolution, I contacted Sears again to make sure that was the final answer. It wasn’t. Sears refunded your card an additional $200.

  • sirwired

    I’d say, depending on the circumstances, Small Claims for the floor…

    If the owner did not purchase a new supply line and the old line was plastic, I’d say that’s on her; the flex of moving and installation can cause a new (delayed) leak. But if the line was re-used copper, the most likely cause of the leak was either the installer not replacing the compression ferrule or not trimming off enough of the end of the old line when re-installing. (Or over-tightening the compression nut and splitting it.)

    Copper makes for a long-lasting supply line (does not need to be replaced every five years like the plastic ones), but you have to get the installation right.

    (I’m personally guilty of not trimming enough line, and also of splitting the nut… luckily I have a vinyl-topped ceramic floor, so all it did was make a puddle.)

  • Rebecca

    Wow. This is the first time in a while I have felt so strongly that a company really screwed someone. I can’t imagine having to keep my two toddlers away from an appliance that got hot enough on the outside that it produces a burn if you just brush into it. The refrigerator leaked and ruined a remodeled kitchen. And the dishwasher started on fire. Just wow.

    This OP really needs to contact an attorney and/or sue in small claims. Almost never do I say an OP deserves a cash payment for their troubles. This is an exception. She absolutely deserves not only replacement appliances at no cost, she deserves cash for whatever it cost to repair the problems Sears contract installer created, and she deserves more cash for having to tolerate this bs.

  • Rebecca

    She paid them to install it – they even provided a checklist showing exactly what they will do. For sake of argument, the dishwasher was installed improperly and the oven was defective. I find it hard to believe this one thing is the OP’s fault, especially because she paid a professional to do it. I’m sure the checklist Sears provides stating exactly what the delivery person/installer will do includes language referencing the water line to the fridge. A huge company like that has a legal team create and approve the contracts. There’s no way it doesn’t specifically address the water line and their liability. They installed it, and they’re liable absent some written clause stating they’re not.

  • Blamona

    This is a perfect small claims court case for the damaged floor caused by improper install

  • Joe Blasi

    and sears will say we are not at fault for our 3rd party subcontracted installers.

  • Rebecca

    Legally, they are 100% responsible. The OP had a contract with Sears. It would then be up to Sears to pursue the subcontractor. Their own website states the installation is warrantied.

  • sirwired

    I’m not saying Sears isn’t liable for improper installation. Just that if they used a customer-supplied plastic line that subsequently failed, that’s not due to the quality of the installation.

  • Mel LeCompte Jr.

    Last year, I purchased a Sears/ Kenmore fridge. It was defective; while the freezer worked, the fridge didn’t (temps read 65 degrees and higher) and the whole thing made an obnoxious noise, starting two days or so after delivery.

    I went through four different channels to get a replacement, each one leading to an excuse and a dead end. Finally I used Chris Elliot’s lists of contacts. While the resolution wasn’t swift, I did have a compassionate higher up that stayed in touch throughout the process, and allowed me to exchange the Kenmore for a Whirlpool.

    Timeline? I bought the fridge in Aug of 2015; The fridge was actually delivered on or around September 9th and gave trouble starting two days later.

    The problem was FINALLY resolved the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving when they brought in my Whirlpool and removed the beast. A long time to go without cold cuts, fresh veggies, and milk.

    PS: This is the second time in recent years the exec contact list has saved me. The first was with a Cox cable issue.

  • The Original Joe S

    They are going Tango Uniform. Too bad. Used to be you got good stuff from ’em.

    Ordered a new plasticwater filter wrench from them for about $4 or so, to replace the one that broke because it’s cheap stuff. Wrong wrench. “we’ll sell you the right wrench for $20.” Over to the autoparts store for a steel oil filter wrench for $5. Adios, Sears…..

  • The Original Joe S

    If if if……

  • The Original Joe S

    I like your answer.

  • relayer56

    Never, ever buy anything from Sears. Had a similar problem with a Maytag washer & dryer a few years ago. It took over a month to resolve. Finally bought the appliances from Home Depot, but I had to threaten to sue Sears to get them to fix a gas line to the dryer they damaged. They will never, ever see another dime from me.

  • LDVinVA

    So sad about Sears and so many other retailers who have gone down the tubes…

  • Steve Rabin

    Wow…used to be the Kenmore name meant good quality appliances…I guess with Sears’ woes over the last several years they dragged the quality of their appliances down with it.

  • disqus_00YDCZxqDV

    We bought a kenmore washing machine and tumble dryer from Sears about a year ago. They were installed quickly without problems and – touch wood – are still working great !

  • cscasi

    Her case is one reason I have stopped purchasing appliances from Sears. Its quality and service has gone way downhill and if it keeps on, Sears may go out of business. I would rather use Lowes, Home Depot or even my local TV and appliance dealer.

  • cscasi

    But, would it cover the flooring? And also, I am not sure Sears uses professional people to do the installations; not from what I have seen coming off the delivery trucks delivering appliances.

  • cscasi

    Perhaps, but when they do not stand behind their services and/or appliances, people vote with their feet.

  • joycexyz

    Kenmore appliances usually get a very good rating in a leading consumer magazine, but I’m leery of doing business with Sears because of their financial problems. Aside from the defective appliances, are they getting the cheapest installers they can find, or delaying payment for work done? Could explain the poor service. BTW, my daughter recently had a bad experience with a Samsung refrigerator purchased through a local dealer–it didn’t work at all. And the dealer had to be persuaded to replace it rather than send a repair person. Fortunately, she’s smart enough to realize that she paid for an appliance that should work, not for one that needs repairing. And Samsung…exploding cell phones, exploding washing machines…a lemon refrigerator…What’s going on here?

  • joycexyz

    Many dealers insist on replacing the water line when the refrigerator is replaced. Don’t know whether or not Sears does this.

  • C Schwartz

    Kenmore used to be such a good brand — I hope it still is as I bought my last vacuum from Sears. Had a terrible experience with a Samsung vacuum. I do like the graphic used for this story, the horns on the washing machine

  • Fishplate

    Sears is still in business? I guess we’ll buy anything these days.

  • Carrie

    Bottom line. Everything in writing. If the job does not measure up and the company does not fix it in a reasonable amount of time then to small claims court we go.

    I had my own battle with Lowes and a Haire brand full size fridge. Because I bought a warranty from Haire (that included over a year waiting list to fix the product), Lowes refused to fix anything. It was only when I visited the store that the local appliance manager helped me by taking the defective fridge back and let us pick another and refunded the difference. Lowes corporate and Haire corporate did absolutely nothing.

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