Sunday, September 17, 2006

When I started typing this post, I realized that I couldn't decide why Sears sucked worse, for their ridiculously crappy products, or their piss-poor customer service. I really can't choose just one, so I guess I'll have to address both.

I purchased three new appliances from Sears on September 3 of 2005. A Maytag dishwasher, and a Kenmore front loading washer and dryer. When the purchase was made, we were given the option of purchasing an extended warranty at a cost of $379 per appliance. Why, you might wonder, would anyone spend 50% of the purchase price on an extended warranty for brand new appliances. The answer, my friends, is because it's pretty much guaranteed that the appliances are going to go completely to crap.

However, we naively believed that our appliances would last a few years before they started needing service. We also thought Sears would stand behind their products if something did go wrong before that. Boy, are we stupid!

I should have known it was a bad omen when the washing machine was delivered with the front glass shattered. They said they could replace it or just repair the glass, that would be up to me.
Of course, since we were spending over $2000 total on new Sears appliances, I felt that I would really like to actually have a new washer, not one that had been repaired. I was then told by their "customer service" department that there was no reason I needed a new one, as it was repairable.
I did ultimately insist on having a new non-broken machine delivered, but I can tell you I was treated like an illogical, greedy hag for my unwillingness to accept a repair.

Seven months after purchase, I pushed the start button to wash a load of clothes, and my machine beeped at me. It didn't start, it just beeped and then sat there looking at me expectantly. I pushed the button again. This time, it beeped just a little more persistently. After a third push of the button, and a third beep, I finally understood what my machine was trying to say.
"I'm broken, you dumb shit. Can't you see that I'm incapable of washing your clothes."
"But you can't be broken," I insisted. "You're brand new, and my son is potty training, and I have eight pairs of pee-soaked pants to wash."
Refusing to believe it, I thought perhaps there was just some computer component that needed to be reset. So I unplugged it, let it take a rest for a few minutes, gave it a well deserved break. And then I plugged it back in and pushed the start button. The little bastard beeped at me and sat there.

After much discussion with customer service, they were finally able to get somebody out to diagnose the problem, order the faulty part, and come back and install it. Fortunately, I was still under warranty so this didn't cost me anything. Except for the $30 a week in quarters at the laundromat washing pee soaked clothes. Did I mention that this whole process took two weeks, and the broken part was the control panel? You know, the computer that controls the whole machine?

I thought that whole mess was over, and I was almost ready to forgive Sears for their crappy appliance and miserable treatment of the customer (that's me). Until yesterday.

Flash forward now to September 16, 2006. If you're doing the math in your head, that puts us exactly 13 days outside of the 1 year manufacturer's warranty. My son, now potty trained, had wet the bed, so I loaded up the washing machine with pee-soaked sheets, added the proper amount of expensive High Efficiency detergent, and pressed start. My Kenmore model 407... front loading washing machine beeped at me, and sat there.
"No," I said, pushing the button again. "This cannot be. You were just fixed five months ago. It's not possible that Sears and Whirlpool (that's who makes Kenmore now), could possibly put out such a piece of crap appliance that it would completely die twice in one year."

I pushed the button again. My washing machine beeped. And sat there.

"Please," I begged, "there are sheets with pee. Don't do this to me. I need you."
But of course, it's only a machine, and machines can't be reasoned with. So I immediately turned to people for help, because they are capable of logic and reason and basic human kindness and integrity. I soon learned that while most people are capable of those things, the folks at Sears have had it trained right out of them.

Regardless of whom I talked to, from department manager, to store manager, to customer service center, to appliance service center, to customer service center manager, not a single person was capable of a single one of those behaviors. In fact, all they were able to do was tell me that for $279 I could get a one year extended warranty. When asked if they stand behind their products, I was told that they absolutely do, for 90 days. After that, customers are screwed.

So now I need to load up the car with pee-pee sheets and take a trip to the laundromat. My son will love it because he gets to play Ms. Pacman. Of course, that costs extra quarters.

My poor Whirlpool manufactured Kenmore front loading washing machine model number beginning with 417 is sitting empty and non-functional even though it's only 1 year and 13 days old.
Here's a picture of the poor, broken piece of crap:

And Sears has absolutely no interest in trying to make this right.

Feel free to submit your Sears or Whirlpool nightmare stories (don't forget, they own Kmart and the Great Indoors), and I will happily publish them in my blog.

Check back next time for a post about the Maytag dishwasher that we purchased at the same time (you'll never believe it, but it broke already, too....shocking, I know).

I'm off to file complaints with the BBB and the Michigan Attorney General. I will keep you posted as the saga continues.