We love a happy ending

When James Davies and his wife return from a trip to a house that smells of rotten food, they call Sears for the third time in two years for help with their Kenmore appliance. This time, they want a replacement instead of another repair, and the company’s customer service staff refuses. So Davies hits the web.

Question: Both our kitchen and laundry room contain only high-end Kenmore appliances, and, overall, my wife and I have been extremely satisfied. We have, however, developed a problem with the refrigerator.

About two years ago we opened the refrigerator only to discover that everything had frozen. We had a service call in about a week; the technician identified the problem, ordered parts and about a week after that, the unit was fixed. The fix appeared to involve replacing the computer boards.

In April of this year, the same thing occurred. Technician was dispatched, parts ordered, and about two weeks later, the unit was fixed. Again, it appears the computer boards were replaced.

Yesterday, we returned home after being gone for a week only to discover the unit was no longer cooling. The front panel did not indicate any problems and the unit was running but not cooling. Everything was spoiled, and you can’t begin to imagine the smell in the house.

We have an appointment scheduled for next Wednesday, and I am confident that the problem will be identified, parts ordered, and in about two weeks, we will have a working refrigerator.

Our concern is just how long the unit will continue to work. My wife and I have several trips planned for this summer and fall and don’t really want to have to have someone babysit the refrigerator. Top-of-the-line appliances should not require this type of activity. Our only option appears to be replacing the unit with one that functions 100 percent of the time.

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What consideration, if any, would Sears offer us on a new Kenmore unit to keep us as loyal Sears customers? — James Davies, Pittsburgh, Penn.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear that this refrigerator has been giving you trouble for the past several years. I travel a lot as well, and I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to spend two weeks wondering if I would be assaulted by the smell of rotten food the moment I opened my door after a long flight home.

It seems that when you purchased your Kenmore refrigerator, you also bought a Master Service Agreement, which promises “If we can’t fix it, we’ll deliver and install a new, comparable product. Guaranteed. Other plans give you a gift card for the depreciated value of your product. Not Sears. We give you a real replacement.”

After multiple repairs involving the same parts, it seems reasonable to expect a replacement. But when you initially called Sears and requested a replacement instead of another repair, the customer service representatives you spoke with did not agree. What you did next reminds us and our hard-working team of research volunteers why we do what we do.

You visited our website and looked up the customer service and executive contacts we list for Sears Holdings Corporation. Five hours after sending an email to the primary executive contact we list on the Sears contact page, you received a response, and the executive team agreed that your repeated problems warranted a replacement:

I am authorizing a replacement under your Master Protection Agreement. I will send your information to my processing team, and they will do the PA research. Once they have completed the research, they will provide an authorized dollar amount for the replacement. I will send the replacement information to you in an email once it is completed. Also, you should be eligible for food loss under your protection agreement.

An additional five hours after receiving that email, you had the authorization for the refrigerator replacement. The company also apologized for your frustrating experience and provided the contact information you needed to apply for reimbursement of your food loss.

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Shortly thereafter, you emailed us to let us know that you used our contacts to self-advocate your case. Now that’s what we call a happy ending.

Michelle Bell

Michelle worked in the travel and hospitality industry for almost two decades. Born in Germany, she has lived in 15 states and two foreign countries, and traveled to more than 35 countries. After living and working in Southeast Asia for several years, she now resides in New Orleans. Read more of Michelle Bell's articles here.

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