The technicians damaged my wall, but now they won’t pay for repairs

By | October 20th, 2016

Cynthia Scott’s walls are damaged by a Sears contractor when it removes her refrigerator. Now, neither the contractor nor Sears is willing to repair the damage. Is she stuck with the bill?

Question: I need your help resolving a claim with Sears and its contractor, Spirit Delivery and Distribution.

Recently, a Sears representative came to my home to remove a defective Kenmore refrigerator purchased from Sears. A very unskilled team arrived and gouged my walls as they removed the refrigerator. They denied damaging the walls, claiming that the damage was already there, which was a lie.

I filed a claim with Sears, which then forwarded the claim to Spirit Delivery and Distribution, the contractor that had performed the work. Spirit denied my claim and Sears Holdings refuses to take responsibility.

I believe Sears misrepresented who was coming to my home and now refuses to take responsibility for the poor work done. I’m caught in the middle. This has been going on for six months. Spirit originally agreed to pay a settlement and now refuses to do so. Can you help me get the $500 it has already agreed to? — Cynthia Scott, Boulder, Colo.

Answer: If Spirit agreed to pay you $500 for damage to your wall, it should pay. Now.

Sears should have hired competent technicians to remove your refrigerator. Whether they’re on the Sears payroll or not shouldn’t matter. The company you called to remove the appliance should take responsibility for any problems.
Did Spirit damage your walls? I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But the fact that Spirit agreed to pay you $500 for the repairs should be enough. (By the way, I think it’s the right call. You don’t want to have an unhappy customer broadcasting criticisms of Sears’ technicians.)

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There are easy ways to prevent this from happening. First, document an area where work is about to be done by taking a picture with your phone. That way, you have the “before” picture and there’s no question about how the area looked. You may even want to take a photo of the area with the technicians in it before they start the work.

In the unlikely event a technician damages your home, take more pictures. Keep everything, including your repair invoices. And get everything in writing — especially if a company offers to cover your repairs. A promise by phone won’t really help when someone in management has second thoughts about paying for the damage. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Sears’ customer service executives on my consumer advocacy site.

I contacted Sears on your behalf, and separately, you reached out to the executives I list. At first, Sears balked at paying you, saying Spirit was a separate company. But after several more exchanges, you received a check from Spirit.

  • sirwired

    Theres a little bit of confusion… the end of the question says “… Spirit originally agreed to pay a settlement and now refuses to do so. Can you help me get the $500 it has already agreed to?”

    But the answer starts off with “If Sears agreed to pay you $500 for damage to your wall, it should pay. Now.”

    Who was it who originally agreed to pay? Spirit or Sears? It’s not a huge difference, but it’s not nothing.


    My neighbor recently had an appliance delivery and the delivery team insisted on taking photos–both with their company phone and my neighbor’s phone. Said it was to protect both of them.

  • Bob Davis

    Most big companies hire local contractors to do the actual work. We had a nightmare with Lowes (first mistake) getting laminate floors installed. They eventually refunded the entire installation fee which was half the cost.

  • jim6555

    It sounds like Spirit Delivery and Distribution is a subsidiary of Spirit Airlines. At least they both have the same policy regarding handling customer complaints – ignore them.

  • MF

    I’m shocked, positively shocked that you would say such a thing about two such fine ‘merican companies. Actually, I’m jealous that you said it first.

  • Rebecca

    Is it just me, or have there been several Sears stories like this recently? Where usually a terrible, low-rate subcontractor, and occasionally Sears themselves, have really screwed a customer? Then they eventually make it right after a consumer advocate gets involved, with some boilerplate apology, despite the fact the consumers had strongly advocated for themselves? It really makes me wonder how many people out there just gave up.

    I can’t remember buying anything from Sears recently, or ever really. I remember going there as a kid in the early/mid-eighties. I don’t think my parents shop there anymore either. Stories like this remind me why I don’t even consider Sears an option.

  • Rebecca

    My parents had an issue with Home Depot. Same thing, they ended up with a refund of the installation cost. They ordered new countertops, and the subcontractor cut them incorrectly. My parents had them measure just to avoid something like this, then they cut it incorrectly. And tried to install it with one side of the kitchen having an overhang (if I remember correctly) 2 inches shorter than the opposite side, which is literally exactly parallel. When they refused to allow it to be installed this way and insisted on a new pice being cut, the subcontractor got nasty and refused. So my parents had no countertops at all for a few weeks while they fought Home Depot. Who tried to tell them to leave it incorrectly, then tried to say the subcontractor had to pay for the new countertop, then tried to send the same exact idiots when they finally replaced the piece.

    In short, I think all home improvement, appliance, flooring, etc stores use subcontractors that are below par. I’m sure it’s because installation is already cheaper than most places, and they’re taking a cut on top of that. So you end up with crappy subcontractors.

  • joycexyz

    Very smart! I’m thinking someone had accused them of causing damage, so they instituted this policy. Regardless, it’s a very good move.

  • Charles Owen

    When I was in college I received a phone call from the campus police one evening. Seems a contractor working on the 9 story roof of my dorm decided it was a good idea to sweep rocks off, breaking several car windows, including mine (not just a crack, the entire rear window was shattered). They gave me the name and number of the contractor, who asked that I bring the car by and they would arrange to get it fixed. When I brought it by they promptly informed me that their workers knew my window was already broken so they would not pay. I raised a fit and threatened to call the police. They did give in and arrange to have it fixed.

    Why is this the knee-jerk response by companies? They made a mistake. Is it really worth ticking off potential customers just to save a small amount of money, which their insurance likely paid, anyway?

  • cscasi

    I use Lowes a lot of the times I need something done. I had one issue and they resolved it without cost to me; including ordering and reinstalling a new expensive hot water heater the original technician bent up when installing it. So, it has never been a “mistake” for me.

  • cscasi

    I used to buy appliances from Sears and have it install the new ones and haul away the old ones. Never had any issues with the work done. My issue was Sears prices kept climbing, so I went elsewhere and now no longer use them.

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