Friday, July 04, 2008

The Softer Side of Sears

So, my fridge conked out on Monday. Have you ever realized just how much you need a fridge? I was going to blog on it, but I thought, "How could I bring it back to television?" Well... I'll use Cordelia's evil line to Willow as my title, and I'll also mention I was rewatching "Eggtown" the other day, which opens with Locke making breakfast for Ben, and I thought, "Dammit, Ben has a fridge on a freakin' ISLAND and I don't have a fridge." And I'll throw in a pic of my dream fridge repair guy. But enough preamble... on to bitching.

The fridge was bought at Sears when the guy who built the house we now live in bought it just before we moved in three years ago. In April, after a couple of months of the compressor making a loud noise and the freezer periodically just defrosting itself, we had a Sears guy come in and look at it, and he said it was definitely the compressor, and he'd have to come back to fix it the next day. (Every sales call, by the way, requires you to be in your house "between the times of 8 and 4" and they won't give you a more specific time. Also, they say the guy will call in advance... he NEVER does.) Next day he comes back, with head hanging, saying that the compressor is under warranty, the relay isn't. So Sears refused to let him get a compressor, and instead ordered him to try changing the relay so that we'd be forced to pay for the visit. He put on the relay, nothing. He apologized, made another appointment for the NEXT day, and left. Sigh. Finally he comes back with the compressor, which looked like it had last been used in the 1970s, in a box that had been taped all to hell like it had been used on various other fridges over the years and refurbished for future sales calls. He put it on, the freezer went back to normal.

This past Monday, I went to get something out of the freezer, and a bunch of water flowed out of it, all over the floor. I reached in, and the food was defrosting. No noise this time, no warning, just... melting. I grabbed everything that was still frozen (or mostly frozen) and rushed it out to the deep freeze in the garage. My husband got home shortly after and called Sears to set up an appointment, and their policy is to book for the next business day if it's a fridge warming up. Unfortunately, Tuesday was a holiday, so Wednesday was the earliest they could come. A few hours later we noticed things in the fridge were sweating, meaning it was warming up, too. My husband called Sears back and asked if there was any possibility of a Monday call, and they said no, sorry, they've got us booked for Wednesday. That was the second confirmation.

Wednesday I wanted to go out and get some things, so I called first thing in the morning and added my cell number to the service sheet, and the woman said I would get a call an hour in advance, and I would be called before 3 that day, since the service day ends at 4. I went out to grab lunch, and rushed back. And waited. And waited... At 3:05, I called them back. I got a pleasant woman (the first pleasant one, actually; the others acted like we were wasting their time by calling them) and she seemed confused when I asked her where the guy was. She kept asking questions, like she was putting off the inevitable, and finally said, "Um... on my computer? It says your call is booked for, um, NEXT Wednesday. Which is really strange because our policy is the next business day. But someone's marked it down wrong." I told her I needed someone out today, that I'd lost hundreds of dollars of food, and the few things I was able to salvage were in a cooler with ice and I couldn't wait for the next day. She said the business day ends at 4. I said I didn't care if someone had to work until 5 or 8, they were coming out TODAY. I told her that it was most likely the compressor THEY had put on my fridge that was making it not work. She said she would call and see what she could do. I thanked her profusely. And waited. And waited. Listening to some sort of Latin salsa music. Then she came back and said she couldn't do anything, she would put me up to a supervisor. Back on hold. Latin salsa music. Suddenly, a click, and I'm listening to bad pop, the same bad pop I'd been listening to when I first called. I'd been put back into general rotation! Argh. I waited. Finally someone picked up and said how can I help you? and I told her I was waiting for a supervisor. She said, "Oh... um... I'm a supervisor?" NICE TRY. I said, "Well, my details should have been forwarded to you, then." and she said no, they weren't, I'd have to start over again. I did. She put me back on hold and came back on, and she said that yes, this was completely their fault, yes, someone screwed up and put us in for next Wednesday, but there was nothing she could do, that service ends at 4. I said, "Look, I don't want to be rude, but should I be sending all my restaurant and take-out bills to you, too?? I CAN'T KEEP FOOD IN THE FRIDGE!!!!" I told her that I really needed this done today, that it had been a beautiful day, 30 degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and I'd been sitting at home with a baby all day long rather than getting out to DO something. And I'm NOT about to do it again.

She said, "Look, the only thing to do is to put you through to the next business day..." and I said, "Fine, but I need it to be the first appointment of the day. Please don't make me wait around all day." "Well, ma'am, if you'd let me finish, I was going to say we're completely booked tomorrow, and I'll have to put you through to Friday." I lost it. "Okay, let me get this straight. We book the appointment for today, and the woman confirmed it was for today. We then called right back and asked if we could do it sooner, and she said no, it was for today. Then I called this morning to make sure he would call before coming, and that woman AGAIN said he would call before 3 TODAY. And now you're saying that somehow it got changed to next week after THREE confirmations that it was, in fact, today, and NOTHING will be done about it? You will NOT even try to make this any better?" "There's nothing I can do. Do you want the Friday appointment?" she said. "What else can I say?" I replied. "If I say no, I have no fridge, right? So OBVIOUSLY I have to take your Friday appointment!!!"

You know, if just one of the women had said, "I'm really sorry, a lot of people have A/C that's conking out and we're really stretched right now and I can't get another person in to see you earlier than Friday, but I'm really sorry this has happened. I have no idea how this could have happened, and it's terrible they booked it wrong and then confirmed it by mistake." or ANYTHING, it would have been different. But each woman just went, "Oh. Looks like someone screwed up" and wouldn't even say "sorry."

I called my husband and told him, and he thought he could do better, so he called back. He went through the same rigamarole I did, and when he finally told them we'd never buy from Sears again (exactly what I'd said) the woman simply said, "I'm sorry to hear that, sir." The first sorry we got was that they were sorry we were not patient enough to deal with their endless screwups.

But that's not the best part. As soon as my husband ended his phone call with them, they called back (I'd gone outside with my son for the first time that day so I missed the call) and the woman said, "Hello there, this is Charlotte from Sears. I was just talking to you about the fridge? I wanted to add that I've checked your account, and your fridge and compressor are no longer under any warranty, so you will be charged for the service call. Thank you." and hung up. It was like a giant F*** YOU!!! into our phone. Even down to her tone of voice, which was oozing with, "Nyah nyah nyah nyah NYAH NYAH!" My husband got home, called right back, and got ANOTHER customer service person who checked our account and said, "I have no idea why anyone made that call, because it says right here your compressor is under warranty still, so of course if it's the compressor then we'll be covering it." Sure enough, she found a note on the computer file of our account that said, "When you go to this address, CHARGE THEM."

So just in case you think customer service people don't take any revenge on you, they do. Luckily, the guy who came to fix it today was the same guy who'd mickeyed with it two months ago, and he didn't charge us for it (it was the relay he'd put on it, which he said was old and rusty... really? You put it on TWO MONTHS AGO.)

My favourite part? On the side of his truck it says, "24-Hour service for emergency heating and cooling needs." So if your air conditioning goes off, that's an emergency. If your fridge dies and you lose hundreds of dollars of food, well, that's not a priority.

The softer side of Sears? In Canada, it doesn't appear to exist. That's the last thing I buy from them. Oh, and by the way, our fridge is a Maytag. It's three years old and has been nothing but trouble. So why exactly does the Maytag repairman just sit there while his phone never rings? Either everyone has the wrong number, or no one is buying Maytag anymore. (I know I'm now in the latter group.)


Marie said...

I had a bad experience with Sears re: my washing machine a few years back.

It was a Maytag.

I called for service, and they couldn't schedule me for several days.

It's a little hard for a family of 7 to avoid washing clothes for several days.

I ended up calling an independent place who came out the same day, for less.

No more Sears.

Cedar said...

Nikki, I hope you're planning to write a complaint letter to the head office--or at least to someone who supervises the people with whom you spoke on the phone. The "charge them" note on the computer file is unbelievable!

Michelle said...

Wow that's unbelievable. I'm pissed off just reading about it.

Good to know that I should never buy from them.

The Leonard's said...

Totally Feel your pain we just lost our 6 year old refrig and it was no longer under warrenty (GE). What ever happened to refrigs that lasted like 15 years? We had to wait 2 weeks for the new one because I am so picky and wanted a not overpriced and energy effecient model. Plus I live in the Boonies. Sears stores are individually owned and the Corp office oversees and runs advertising and customer service for them. Sears also bought out Kmart recently. Just a tad bit of extra info.

Jay Menard said...

Just a thought... why not provide an e-mail or mailing address for the Sears location you dealt with. Then, if they so choose, all your faithful fans, friends, and readers can write scathing letters about how we will not be purchasing from Sears or any of its subsidiaries -- ever. That they didn't just lose one customer, but also an exponentially increasing number of potential customers who have heard your experience and are appalled by the callousness of the CS department.

I'd write a letter. And I'm sure others would too... Fight the power!

Sharlotte said...

Hi, I like your blog. I find it very interesting. I see you are talking about Sears here. First I learned about the company on this great site I could not believe that so many people can be disappointed with the services offered by the company. Complaints of different sorts were filed be the ripped-off clients of the company. I will think twice before going to Sears.