Why won’t Sears replace my broken refrigerator?

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By Christopher Elliott

If your refrigerator stops working after just two years, shouldn’t the manufacturer replace it? That’s the question for today. Brent Wilkinson just wants Sears to replace his broken refrigerator. Can we help?

Question

In 2017, I bought a full set of kitchen appliances from Sears along with their protection agreement. Among the items was a white Kenmore Elite Counter Depth refrigerator made by LG.

Less than two years later, and while still under the protection agreement, I noticed a leak coming from the freezer door and found that the ice was melting because the freezer was no longer cooling and the refrigerator had in fact died. When I called Sears to fix the broken refrigerator, a representative told me it would be a three-week wait for a repair.

I decided to follow your advice and appealed to Sears executives requesting a faster resolution. I did not receive so much as an automated response.

When the appointment to repair the refrigerator finally rolled around, the technician didn’t show up. Over the next three months, I made numerous attempts to address the broken refrigerator. While I was on another weeks-long waitlist for an appointment, Sears offered to cover up to $300 for spoiled food as long as we itemized what was spoiled and up to $115 for a refrigerator, but $115 would barely cover a dorm-room-sized fridge.

The responses from Sears have been sporadic at best. I have been in customer service myself for more than 20 years and currently lead a customer service team. At no time were my emails insulting, foul, or sarcastic. I tried to be to the point and direct with our expectations and am happy to share the threads with you if that would help.

Thank you very much for your consideration in this matter. We hope you are able to convince Sears to replace this broken refrigerator.– Brent Wilkinson, Campbell, Calif.

Answer

Your Kenmore refrigerator should not have broken after just two years. The average refrigerator lasts about 14 years, give or take.

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But appliances can break down. Since you paid for an extended warranty, Sears should have come to your house quickly to fix the broken refrigerator or replace it. It did not. Instead, it asked you to wait — and then wait some more.

You kept a beautiful paper trail and refused to let a Sears representative steer you to the phone. That’s great because you had a full record of its responses and non-responses. I’m sorry that the executive contacts I list in our database didn’t get back to you. My research team does its best to keep our contacts updated, but given Sears’ recent difficulties, there’s been a lot of turnover at the executive level. Maybe it will be for the better. (Related: Sears couldn’t deliver my appliances. Now it won’t refund my $3,606.)

You can also consult my ultimate guide to getting a repair, replacement or refund for your broken appliance.

Good News: Sears will replace your broken refrigerator

I only have one small suggestion. It appears that you contacted the executives before you went through the customer service department. It’s important that you dot all your “i”s and cross all your “t”s. The executives are far likelier to do something if you’ve already tried to resolve the problem in writing through regular channels.

Your experience with Sears reads like a titled “How Not To Take Care Of Your Customers” — long waits, canceled appointments, unsatisfactory offers to resolve the problem. I hope this is atypical for Sears and that, once its troubles are behind, it will begin living up to its reputation for “quality products and services at great value.”

I contacted the company on your behalf. Sears offered $1,900 toward a replacement and $300 to replace your lost food.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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