Sears 15,100 BTU Kenmore room air-conditioner

with "3-year protection plan"

Rating: Extremely Unsatisfactory!

Page Last Revised: 01/25/2011 16:21

 

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On August 24, 2008, we purchased (at Sears) a 15,100 BTU Kenmore room air-conditioner (Model 580.75151500) and a “3-year protection” warranty.

When we installed it, we discovered that the drain tube elbow and gasket (part nos. 4H01010A and 4H01029G respectively) are the wrong size for the drain hole in the unit, and therefore useless for the purpose.

I telephoned Sears' so-called Parts Department, where I was entertained by a time-wasting series of computerized-voice menus, obnoxious music, and equally obnoxious (and disingenuous) recordings telling us that “all representatives are busy…we value your business…please wait”. After approximately 15 minutes of this time-wasting, annoying nonsense, during which (because of the incessant recorded announcement) I was unable to do anything productive, a human (?) came on the line, and informed us that she could/would not replace the ten-cent plastic part with the correct part unless I paid an exorbitant price for it. When I argued that the product was purportedly covered by a store guarantee and an extended warranty, and that Sears had packed the wrong part with the product, she suggested I speak to the store manager where I purchased the item.

When I telephoned the Sears store, I was treated to another time-wasting series of computerized-voice menus, only to be told (after ten minutes of pushing buttons and waiting) that the store was closed! The inconsiderately delayed message didn’t even provide the store hours --- something that would seem essential under the circumstances. Another example of poorly designed customer-unfriendly, time-wasting abuse of electronics.

I then sent a letter to the Sears store manager, in which I requested that Sears refund the $119.99 that I was charged for the totally useless “warranty”, and that Sears either immediately provide the correct part, or refund the $432.39 that I was charged for the defective air-conditioning unit.

I subsequently received a telephone message from “Sam” stating that they had received my letter, were very sorry, have another unit and will gladly exchange it, and to call to work out details. Of course, no hours for the return call were specified, and (when I called the store and once again indulged their time-wasting computerized menu system) no one had ever heard of “Sam”!

Subsequently, I sent Sears multiple copies of my complaint (revised to discuss subsequent events) with no response. Meanwhile, the thermostat turned out to be defective as well. First it would cycle on-and-off far too frequently to be of any use, and now (regardless of setting) it allows the room temperature to get above 80 before turning on, and yet comes on at 70 and below. This has rendered the unit useless for the purpose sold, and an expensive waste of electricity for little result.

After 2.5 years of being ignored by Sears, and having to put up with a functional, but defective, air-conditioner (that required being turned on and off manually, instead of by thermostat), on December 2, 2010, I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau and Arizona state attorney general.

On December 6, 2010, I received a call from “Theresa” in response to the BBB complaint. I had to relate the entire story because she didn’t seem to understand the issue at all (and probably hadn't bothered to read the complaint, much less the plethora of earlier correspondence). She said she would contact the store manager and get back to me. She subsequently called and said that all they can do is “send a tech out” to repair the unit and take a photograph of the water damage. I asked how they were going to fix the thermostat in the winter (when the symptoms could not be reproduced), to which she had no answer. She offered me a service call on the 22nd, 26th, or in January. I selected the 22nd.

Subsequently, on December 6, 2010, Sears provided an inaccurate and disingenuous response to the BBB in which they spelled my name incorrectly, inaccurately claimed that "Sears Home Service had not been contacted and advised of any issues with the air conditioner", irrelevantly claimed that the warranty has expired (which it hadn't, and even though Sears ignored all of my complaints during the warranty period), and that "the unit will be tested and repaired as needed" on December 22nd. Sears' response was complete double-talk and ignored the issues involved. It also contradicted representations and commitments made by Sears' in a telephone conversation the same day!

When I contacted Sears in respect to a missing part, they refused to honor their warranty, but rather directed me to the store manager, as they did when I inquired about a service call! A representative from the store indicated in a telephone message that they would replace the unit (rather than simply provide a 10-cent part), but failed to fulfill this commitment or respond to further communication, as well as further complaints about product malfunction.

The expiration date of the agreement is irrelevant. Sears failed to honor the agreement in the first place, and a refund is forthcoming for both the agreement and the cost of the defective unit.

As noted in my many unanswered letters to Sears, and in my complaint, I did contact Sears, and I did advise them of "issues" with the air conditioner --- and I did so within a few months of the purchase. The fact that Sears ignored me for two years (until I filed a complaint with the BBB and AG) should not and does not negate the validity of my complaint.

On December 21, 2010, I received an automated telephone call reminding me of the "service call" scheduled for the 22nd. I spent the evening moving furniture and furnishings to make sure that the "tech" had access to the air-conditioner without ruining more of my property.

On December 22, 2010, while waiting for Sears to arrive, I received a telephone call from the "technician" wanting to know how to get there from Benson. Yet, he wouldn't listen to directions because the "phone's breaking up", and hung up while I was trying to provide them. Two "technicians" arrived about 1/3 hour later, requested that I chain up my dogs (because of "company rules" that put their safety before mine), and (after only LISTENING to the symptoms I described 2.5 years ago) determined that the problem was a "thermistor" which they will have to order! [You would think they would have asked for the model #, and problem report before coming out, and only have to make one trip and inconvenience me once.] They also confirmed that the drain elbow is the wrong one (the original problem I reported 2.5 years ago). They said they couldn't return before January 12th, and that the parts would be shipped to me.

On January 3, 2011, the various parts arrived via UPS in one box and three Mylar envelopes. There was nothing on the return address of packing list to indicate where/what this shipment was, or who it was from, so I wasted quite a bit of time trying to decipher it. Since it was unidentified and unexpected, I almost discarded it.

On January 12, 2011, I (once again) moved all the furniture and equipment away from the wall, and waited. Sears never showed!

On January 18, 2011 ~ 10:00, I received an automated call from Sears telling me that service tech would show tomorrow between 1-5, and to let them know if all the parts had not arrived (as if I could tell) or if I needed to reschedule!

A few hours later, I received another call from Sears informing me they had no one to send on the service call tomorrow, and had no available future service dates, and that someone would call me (for what purpose?) within 24 hours.

Later that day, I received an automated message asking me to call them back! When I called the number provided, I had to push a million buttons, and wait on hold for a human that never appeared.

On January 19, 2011, I received another automated message asking me to call them back to "reschedule my appointment", and providing the same useless telephone number.

Sears not only can't keep an appointment, but they can't even have a human being call me to reschedule!

Summary: In addition to NOT honoring their store warranty and extended warranty, NOT honoring their store manager's promise to replace the defective unit, NOT responding to multiple letters requesting solution, Sears has NOT honored their latest commitment to repair the unit (after 2.5 years of complaints). They sent out a "service team" on 12/22, who (as soon as they HEARD the symptoms) determined that it needed a part that they didn't have! That's right! I had to wait 2.5 years for them to come out, to tell me I had to wait another month for the part I told them I needed 2.5 years ago! Then, they didn't keep their next appointment (on 1/12/2011) to install the part that they should have delivered 2.5 years ago, and have been playing games ever since.

 

 

On 01/19/2011, I submitted another complaint to the Better Business Bureau, to which Sears responded with more double-talk.

 

Subsequently, I received a call from "Sandy" at the District Office in California (619-590-3811).  I told her the whole story (which she listened to patiently), to which she replied that she had no control over anything, but she could/would reschedule for (next) Monday, 1/24/2011 between 8-12. I told her I had an appointment in the afternoon, and was concerned that they might come late and/or run late in their task and conflict with my appointment. She said she would schedule me for the first appointment in the morning (i.e. 8:00, not 8-12).

 

Monday, 01/24/2011 – No one from Sears showed! After moving furniture (for access to the a/c unit) yet again, and waiting until 10:05 for the technician who was supposed to be here at 8 a.m., I received a telephone call from a robotic voice who wasted my time informing me that the call might be recorded, etc., and finally informed me that the technician "might not arrive until afternoon". I replied that this was unsatisfactory, that they were supposed to have been there first thing in the morning, and that --- once again --- Sears had failed to fulfill a commitment.

 

I then telephoned "Sandy" at the number provided, listened to yet another recording, and waited on hold for several minutes, at which time another "representative" answered the phone. I asked for "Sandy" and was placed on hold for another several minutes. "Sandy" didn't recall who I was, and I had to give her my telephone number so she could look it up on the computer. She claimed no knowledge of the situation, looked something up on her computer, and told me that the computer shows that I "agreed to a change of ETA". I denied this, and said that my only contact with Sears since the appointment was scheduled was the aforementioned telephone call, in which I complained vociferously, and agreed to nothing.

 

"Sandy" then placed me on hold (or perhaps she said she would call back, and did so) while she researched "what happened". When she came (or called) back, she said that she didn't now what had happened, but had rescheduled me for first thing Tuesday (1/25/2011) morning. I mentioned that this was yet another inconvenience, on top of three no-shows, one wasted "repair call" (that could have been handled over the phone), and 2.6 years run-a-round. She said she had no control over any of those things.

 

Tuesday, 1/25/2011 – Once again, no one from Sears showed up! I waited until 10:10 to call "Sandy" (because she said she didn't get into the office until 8:45 PST). After the usual recordings and lengthy wait on hold, I spoke to Marilyn, who put me on hold for another lengthy time period. Finally "Sandy" came on the line. Once again she said she didn't know what had happened, and said she would find out and call me back. Once again, I complained about the inconvenience, and once again she denied any control over matters. When she called back, she said she (still) didn't know what happened, but that the technician would be here "about 12". She also said that she would speak to the technician and corporate afterward, and "decide what we're going to do" (which hopefully means some sort of concession for all the delays and trouble I've been put to).

 

At 10:55, the technician called and said he was about hour from Sierra Vista, and needed to get his truck looked at, but still expected to arrive about 12:00 (which would be physically impossible). I said I would expect him about 12:30-13:00. He asked where I was located, and then said he would use GPS to find it rather than taking down directions while he was driving. He asked what was wrong with the a/c (as apparently Sears did not inform him of the previous technicians diagnoses and proposed resolution), so I told him in detail.

 

At 12:30, the technician showed up. It was the same one as was here in December, so I don't know why he needed address information again, and why he feigned ignorance of the situation. When he went to install the part, he broke the plastic tab off the cover, so it won't close properly. Then he informed me that Sears had sent the wrong part (to fix the original problem)! He also said that Sears had told him that they would replace the unit if he couldn't repair it today. He told me someone from corporate would call me later to arrange this. He said that Sears would deliver the replacement unit, so I wouldn't have to travel (50 miles) to Tucson or Sierra Vista to pick it up.

 

Subsequently, "Sandy" called, and claimed to have discussed things with "corporate". She said that I should remove the unit (leaving a gaping hole in my wall during the dead of winter), deliver it to Sears in Tucson, select another unit, and give them a magic "authorization number which would cover "up to $400" of the cost of a replacement unit. I told her this was unsatisfactory because I didn't want to leave a gaping hole in my wall during the dead of winter, and didn't have a truck and the unit was too large to fit in a car, it would cost $25-30 in gas to go to Tucson, and that I was concerned that when I arrived they would not honor the authorization number and/or have a suitable unit in stock --- and require additional complaints and additional trips to Tucson, while the hole in my wall remained. I said that, in view of all the trouble Sears has caused over the past 2.5 years, they should deliver and install a replacement unit. She said they would not do so.

 

Further investigation shows that Sears no longer sells an equivalent unit, and I would have to select from an underpowered unit (which wouldn't cool the room) or an overpowered unit (which would require new electrical wiring to be installed).

Sears product quality is deficient. Sears "3-year extended warranty" is obviously a scam, the included "free annual maintenance service" non-existent, and the offer to replace the defective unit disingenuous.

Obviously, Sears' “3-year protection” warranty is a complete fraud, as is Sears' product quality control and customer service.

Please consider these events serious before making any purchase at or from Sears, or falling for their "extended warranty" scam.