I canceled my Sears dishwasher order. But where’s my refund?

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By Christopher Elliott

Yilun Liu canceled her Sears dishwasher order more than three months ago. But the company is still holding her $540. Will she ever get a refund?

Question

I canceled a dishwasher order after Sears repeatedly delayed the delivery and installation. It’s been two months and I still have not received my refund for the canceled order. 

I’ve called, emailed and chatted online with Sears, which repeatedly promised a refund in 7 to 10 days. Every time the 10 days were up, I followed up because I still did not see the refund. And every time, they gave me the same answer: that they had not processed the refund but would do so “right away.” 

I have email and chat records with customer service. I forwarded them to their director of customer experience three days ago, but I have not had any response. I’d like to get my money back. Can you help me? — Yilun Liu, Azusa, Calif.

Answer

Sears should have processed your refund months ago. Actually, it shouldn’t have charged you for the dishwasher until it installed it. 

But that’s not how things work. Businesses often charge you for goods and services not yet delivered, and in your case it was both a good (the dishwasher) and service (installation). In a perfect world, you would have paid for your Sears dishwasher only when you were perfectly happy with your new appliance. (Related: Help! Sears won’t cover the cost of installing my replacement dishwasher.)

It looks like you bought your dishwasher online through Sears.com and then asked it to confirm your delivery several times. Sears couldn’t do that, so about a month later, you canceled the order.

What is the Sears refund policy?

Sears has a standard refund policy among major retailers. However, your purchase falls under a gray area.

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  • For non-installed appliances, Sears has a 30-day return window from the date of purchase for most items, with one or two exceptions. (Related: Sears couldn’t deliver my appliances. Now it won’t refund my $3,606.)
  • If you’re a member of Sears’ Shop Your Way loyalty program, you get an extended 45-day return window.
  • For installed appliances — in other words, any appliance requiring professional installation — you must report any damage or malfunction within three days of delivery to be eligible for a return.
  • Special orders, such as appliances ordered from a vendor catalog and not carried in stock are subject to a restocking fee of up to 30 percent if returned, unless the return is due to manufacturer defect, damage during shipment, or order cancellation within specific timeframes outlined in your contract.

After 30 to 45 days, the manufacturer’s warranty may apply. In other words, no refund. Sears refunds you in the same form as the original payment method. Generally, it promises a refund within 30 days.

So what’s your gray area? Well, you canceled your order before Sears could deliver it. In that case, Sears should have refunded you within 30 days at the most

You handled this Sears refund problem by the book

I think you did the right thing with the wrong company. You gave Sears multiple opportunities to install the dishwasher. Your mistake may have been buying a dishwasher from Sears and expecting it to be installed within a month. Sears has a long history of delayed orders and has been undergoing a painful restructuring. The bar may have been a little bit high in this particular instance.

You followed all the correct steps after that. (I list them all in my free guide to resolving your customer service problems.) These include calling, emailing and initiating an online chat. Establishing a paper trail is particularly important. A written promise of a refund may help you later if you need to dispute your credit card charges. 

Sending an email to Sears’ director of customer experience was also a brilliant idea. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Sears executives on this site.

Your case is a cautionary tale about doing business with a company that is struggling to regain its footing after falling on hard times. But it’s also a testament to the power of self-advocacy. I reviewed the extensive paper trail between you and Sears, and I’m confident you would have gotten your money back eventually. (Related: Sears won’t repair my broken refrigerator. Could I get a refund?)

But why wait? After you reached out to my advocacy team, I contacted Sears on your behalf. A representative said a previous sales adjustment caused the refund to stall in its system. Sears processed your refund manually, and you received a full refund of $540.

About this story

Nothing is more upsetting than when a company just keeps one of our readers’ money. So, of course, we were all over this one. Our advocates were shaking our heads and saying, “Oh, no way,” to each other when it landed on our desk. And we were quietly wondering if Sears would make it long enough to refund Yilun’s money. I’m grateful to the A-Team for helping us get this one resolved. You guys are the best!

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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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