When Vivian Glassman’s refrigerator stops working, a Sears technician refuses to service the appliance. The reason? It’s not in the kitchen. Does she still have to pay $75 for the service call?
I have an annual service contract with Sears for my appliances, which costs $50 per month plus $75 for each service call.
I had a problem with my GE Profile refrigerator a few weeks ago. The earliest they could offer a service call was 12 days later. I tried desperately to change the date because of the emergency but found it impossible to do that.
I had to purchase a new refrigerator and had the problem one moved to the garage.
When the repairman arrived, he would not service the refrigerator because it was not in the kitchen. They said I would still be charged $75 for the call. I’ve sent several emails to Sears but I have not heard back. This treatment is as insulting and infuriating as the failure of service was with my refrigerator.
I’d like Sears to service the refrigerator. Can you help? — Vivian Glassman, Boynton Beach, Fla.
Sears shouldn’t charge you if it refuses to repair your refrigerator. But why did it?
I asked Sears to have a look at your contract. Sears works with a third party called Cinch Home Services to administer the home warranty. Your warranty became effective 30 days after you bought it. You made a repair request within days of buying the warranty, which means it wasn’t valid, according to Sears.
“This could potentially mean she had a pre-existing condition that could void coverage,” a Sears representative told me.
You checked your dates and say you were well beyond the 30-day waiting period.
That makes sense. If you were not within your warranty, then Sears or Cinch would have informed you of that and not sent a technician.
There’s another issue. Your contract only covers one refrigerator. If you want coverage on a second one, you have to add it to the contract and then pay an additional amount for coverage.
“So Ms. Glassman says she only just moved it there because she bought a new one for the kitchen, but there is no way to really establish that,” Sears says. “And even then, once it is in the kitchen, I believe that is the one that counts.”
But that’s also a non-starter. You bought a second refrigerator because the first one didn’t work. You needed a place to store your food while you waited for the service call.
Either way, a technician should have mentioned the one refrigerator rule to you, too — and you should have received a notification about what is covered when you purchased the home warranty. But the technician only refused to service the refrigerator, citing company policy. And by your account, no one from Sears mentioned these limitations to you.
You could have appealed this to one of the Sears executive contacts list on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. A brief, polite email to one of them might have fixed the problem quickly. You say you emailed the non-executive contacts but that no one responded.
I contacted Sears on your behalf. In response, Cinch contacted you and repaired your broken refrigerator at no charge.