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

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.

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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.)

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.

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