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Sears – Worst Customer Service

A couple of you know the experience we’ve had with sears over the last couple of months.  The short story is we haven’t gotten anywhere with “Customer Solutions,” “Escalation,” or corporate’s email address.  So now its time to take it to Social Media.

Below is a 6 minute video on what we’ve gone through for those of you who don’t know followed by my letter to sears and their ridiculous response.  Please share in as many ways as possible and maybe we can get somewhere!  Thanks in advance for your help!

The Letter to Sears-

December 30, 2013

To Whom It May Concern –

Over the last 3 months my husband, Nick, and I have been through what I can only describe as the worst customer service experience of our lives.  I am writing to you in hopes that we will be able to get our situation resolved without legal action, and to maybe stop others from having to go through the same horrific events.

Back in mid-October Nick was out of work for a couple weeks for Achilles surgery and decided that was a good time to have our tractor repaired.  Seeing as it was after mowing season and before snow season it was perfect timing to get this issue taken care of.   One of the wheels we noticed was toeing inwards and was going to be a problem come plowing season.  After a quick phone call the technician was able to come out that afternoon, where he told us we needed a few parts.  So far this was not only the quickest repair service but also the easiest, but unfortunately that changed very quickly.

The day before the technician was due to come replace the parts we found out that the parts were backordered for a few weeks, and although we weren’t happy about it, we understood and were ok with it since snow wasn’t falling yet.  We received the parts a couple weeks later and called to have them installed only to find out that it would be another two weeks before a technician would be available in our area bringing us to November 22 where Nick took a half day to take care of the situation.  When the technician showed up we were informed that the parts he ordered were not going to fix the problem and that he was going to need to order additional parts. And he would be back on the following Saturday.

On Thanksgiving Day we received an automated phone call saying we needed to call in regards to our service appointment.  We called the next day only to be on hold for 30 minutes and then be told they were having technical difficulties and that he needed to call back.  Later we received a phone call from the technician saying that the parts we ordered were backordered until March, and to have a nice day.

At this we were aggravated, here we were expecting to be able to take care of it before winter hit only to be told the day before a scheduled service that this wasn’t going to be fixed for another three months.  The next day I called back and was told that they were going to look elsewhere for the parts and hopefully they would be able to get us the parts within the next 7 days and if not we would be issued a replacement tractor under our service agreement.

Amazingly the parts showed up within 6 days direct from Husqvarna on December 5th. I called the day after we received them and was told that the soonest available was the 12th between 8 and 12 or the 14th between 1 and 5.  At this point we weren’t wanting to take additional time off to have this taken care of so we scheduled for the 14th.  As the date approached the weather was starting to look bad, luckily the storm was projected to hit after 7pm.  Seeing as this is also our snow blower we were desperate to have it fixed before the impending storm.

At 4pm on December 14th we received a phone call saying that the technician had gone home sick and we were going to have to reschedule.  At this time aggravation turned into frustration along with panic.  We spoke with Kim at customer solutions who offered her apologies and gave us the phone number for escalation and pro advocacy, however we were told there wasn’t anything that could be done until Monday.  When we tried to reschedule we were told the soonest available was the 28th.  And somehow we were able to get that down to the 24th so we scheduled that to finish the repairs even if it meant more time off.

That night we got 14 inches of snow and we had to find someone to plow at the last minute, costing us money out of pocket.  On top of that while plowing our yard was partially torn up due to the shape of our driveway.  (Which is why we went with a snow blower instead of a snow plow in the first place)

On Monday Nick called back and began the real exhausting process of trying to resolve this situation.  He found out that the appointment was never rescheduled for the 24th and the soonest available was actually the 27th.  At this point the aggravation came to a boiling point.  Although neither of us had the 27th off we figured we would do what we had to do.  We were offered a $50 gift card as well as 100,000 show your way rewards points to which my husband expressed that didn’t even come close to fixing the problem nor did it get us a working tractor. He was also told that lawn care reimbursement would be taken care of as well as the snow removal.  He had to go to work and said he would be calling back to further discuss the issue.

Tuesday brought us another 10 inches of snow, which again we had to hire plowing and again our lawn was torn up.  When he called back the next day he agreed to take what was offered, the $50 gift card was being sent out and he was told to call back with our shop your way rewards number because he didn’t know it off the top of his head.  At this point he asked about a replacement tractor due to all of the frustration and aggravation at first we were told that couldn’t happen because the technician hadn’t come out three times.  After some discussion Nick explained that it wasn’t his fault that of the four scheduled appointments, and that we needed something immediately not whenever the technician finally decided to show up to finish.  Eventually we were granted the replacement at $1500, however since our receipt showed $1779, we were given that as a replacement allowance.

Nick was then transferred to replacements on the phone who didn’t have any record of the conversation and apologized and said he would have to transfer Nick back to customer solutions.  The manager Nick spoke to at that point was the most helpful person up to that point.  Apparently the notes hadn’t updated in the system yet.  Wydas told us that the best option would be for us to go into our local Sears and pick out a tractor and the store could take care of the replacement.

A few days later on December 19 we went into the Newington NH Sears after looking at tractors online to figure out which one we wanted.  Our current model was the YT3000, and since they had come down in price since we bought it a year and a half ago we were able to pick out the YT4000 for the same price.  When we walked into the store we happened to come across the store manager Mike Watson who explained his knowledge of the Husquvarna/Craftsman contract issues and how difficult it has been for them to not only get tractors in their store but also parts.  He also informed us that as far as he knew, they were remodeling the line which was expected out in the spring.  He apologized for the horrific experience we had so far and offered to try to make this aspect as smooth as possible.  He did just that.  We quickly looked up the model number, the sales associate called customer solutions gave them the case number and the model number, and we were told to expect a phone call within 24-48 hours.  Mike offered us 10% off any purchases we made in the store that day (although we didn’t have any other purchases to make that day the gesture was much appreciated), gave us his card and said if we had any other issues to please give him a call.  He was by far the most helpful and the nicest part of this entire experience.

I wish I could say that this is the end of our experience.  But if it was I wouldn’t be sending you this.  When I hadn’t received a phone call by the end of the day on December 23th I knew I was going to have to call back the next day.  On Christmas Eve I called just to get an update on our tractor.  The person I talked to said, “Oh, you should have gotten a call because that tractor is no longer available.”  My mouth dropped as I tried to comprehend what I was being told.  After a moment I asked if I could give her a couple of different models to see if we could find another one that was available, we went through every single model available on the website and not a single tractor was available in your warehouse.  At this point I started to panic because it was seeming like we were screwed.  I asked what our options were and was told I’m sorry the only option we have is to fix your current tractor or wait until the spring when the new models became available.

I asked for a supervisor and was put on hold.  While I was on hold I checked to see if any stores in our area had any that we could have instead.  I check from 50 miles south of Worcester, Massachusetts up to 50 miles north of Augusta an almost 350 mile span only to find that the only available tractor was one single Garden Tractor GT6000 140 miles north of our house in Newport, Maine.  When the lady came back on the phone I was told sorry the manager said if there wasn’t one available there was nothing that could be done.  I proposed my own idea of getting the tractor north of us, only to find out the store wouldn’t have a way for us to receive the tractor.  At this point I offered to drive up there with a trailer to pick it up if I would just be reimbursed for the travel expense (gas, tolls and trailer rental).  She told me sorry she couldn’t agree to that and the only manager available was helping someone else and that they would have to get back to me on Thursday.  I agreed knowing it was Christmas Eve and most places are strapped for employees.

By the end of the day on Thursday the only thing we had heard back about was our appointment, and how it was being canceled because the technician was on vacation.  Whats worse, we got an additional unexpected 5 inches of snow!  When I got home I called and spoke with Rachel who was the least helpful, least empathetic, most uninformed, and by far the most infuriating.  When I first got on the phone with Rachel I attempted to give her our shop your way rewards number so that we could get our 100,000 points and I was told I’m sorry that was the gift card or the points not both.  I said no, it was both, why on earth would I choose a $50 gift card when I can have $100 in store credit instead?  She said she wasn’t sure, but that unfortunately she couldn’t put through both  no matter what I was told.  I spent over an hour on the phone with Rachel where she insisted that I had only two options, have our tractor be fixed  (course because the appointment on the 27th was canceled, the soonest date available was the 7th of January and the soonest where we didn’t have to take time off of work was the 25th of January.  A full month later!) or wait for a replacement to be available in March.  When I asked her how that seemed like an acceptable answer she said those were the only options available over and over again.  I asked if I could have my money back, she said no refunds were to be done after the 30 day period.  I asked if I could get the tractor in Newport and she said because it wasn’t a Sears, just an authorized dealer, no plus all replacements had to be done through the warehouse, they couldn’t be done in store.  When I asked why they sent me to the store in the first place then she just said I don’t know.  While I was arguing this issue with her, Nick was outside shoveling the snow (5 inches is too much for the car to get through, but not enough to justify plowing price).  He shoveled our entire 170 foot driveway,  just 10 weeks after having his Achilles reattached.

After an hour and a half of feeling emotionally drained and utterly exhausted, not to mention disappointed, frustrated and just flat out upset I called back and asked the warranty department who I would ask if I had questions about my service plan.  I was then sent to protection administration where I spoke with Carlos.  He basically told me that everything Rachel told me was wrong.  I was so frustrated that I had just gotten so upset over something that wasn’t even right!  After talking to Carlos I found out that replacements can in fact be handled by the store, it just has to be an actual Sears location.  I appreciated that knowledge and was glad that someone finally gave me a straight answer.   Carlos also gave me another option to finding a replacement tractor.  He said if we were able to find a tractor in any Sears store across the country we would be able to have it shipped to us that way.  I asked him if he expected me to go online and search zip code after zip code to find one, and he said unfortunately yes.  I even went as far as to ask what would happen if the whole country is out of stock, or at the very least I’ve checked a good amount of stores to no avail.  He explained to me the Buy Out and how that would be a final option if necessary.

At this point I was so grateful to have some straight answers that I thanked him and hung up the phone to start my online searching.  As soon as I went online the tractors we had been looking at on the website over the last few days were no longer on the website (with the exception of the California Only versions).  And two new garden tractors were on the website.   Slight aggravation washes over me, but then a slight relief when I see these two new tractors are available for delivery on January 18th.  At this point I couldn’t look at any stores because the tractors were no longer on the site for me to check the in store availability.  I called back to see where to go from there and if there was any way for us to get one of these new tractors (even though the price was $2599, not the $1779 we were promised simply because it was the only tractor available) but of course they were closed for the night.

The next day Nick called to ask about the tractor but also to ask about the shop your way rewards points where he was told that although they saw the notes where we were promised both and that we would be calling back with the number she said that there was nothing she could do.  When Nick asked about the tractor he was told that Sears had already made all of the concessions they were willing to make and that there was nothing else that could be done in regards to the price of the new tractor.  Feeling aggravated and defeated after this and being offered to be put on hold yet again, he said we would call back as he had more errands that needed to be run.

Later that day I called on my lunch break where I was on hold for 33 minutes before being talked to by a manager.  (The hold was so long that I called back from my work phone asking if someone would be getting to me soon and I was told that only one manager was on duty and that no one was supposed to be holding for one, they were supposed to take names and numbers and let them know the approximate wait was two hours.  I asked if she was kidding, she said no.  Luckily a few seconds later the manager answered the line. )  I asked him about the rewards points.  I explained that although I understand someone may have told me wrong and through they could do it, and in fact couldn’t, but that wasn’t quite my problem.  If we were promised something we should be getting it.  He agreed and said that he would push through the points.  (If it was really that easy to be done, I don’t quite understand why it didn’t happen in the three previous phone calls.)

After a fifteen minute phone call it was finally explained to me that for replacements one of two things happens they either do an exact item exchange or an exact price exchange.  In our case it was going to be price.  Since we had something stating we paid $1779, they agreed to that as our replacement price they couldn’t go more than that.  Although I understand the nuances of the system and that you can’t have people making concessions like that for everyone, I feel that in extenuating circumstances there should be options.

Later that afternoon Nick left a short voicemail for and also emailed Mike Watson to inform him of the continued trouble and to updated him on the situation.  Within five minutes Mike had gotten back to us apologizing and saying he was off until Tuesday and he would see what he could do for us.  We again greatly appreciate his empathy and his speedy response.

That is where we are at this point.  It is currently Monday night as I am writing this email.  Although I could have waited to see what Mike can do for us, I would be writing this regardless of that.  I feel that it is important for you as a company to know how the customers feel about their experiences.  Quite frankly as of right now I never want to shop at Sears again.  This is coming from a brand new home owner who bought a good amount of lawn and home equipment through you in the last year and a half.  If we didn’t stand to lose money on it, I would take the buyout simply so that I never had to deal with customer solutions ever again.

The fact that it has taken over three months to rectify this situation, with aggravating phone call after aggravating phone call and very little empathy shown is so disappointing of a company as large as yours.  I’ve worked in customer service my entire life working for companies like JC Penney and Walt Disney World and situations like this would never be allowed.  If they somehow did happen, steps to take care of the customer would happen immediately in order to retain that customer.  As of right now, Sears has not done a single thing to retain my customer loyalty (with the exception of Mike Watson, who has the most to lose).  I love Craftsman tools, but as of right now I will not buy them from Sears, I will go to my local ACE Hardware or I will skip it all together and go to Home Depot or Lowes.

I know the situation is a rare one, where something is completely unavailable due to a disagreement between the manufacturers, however because of that, as soon as a tractor became available after weeks of trying to get this resolved there should have been no question.  It should have been immediately ordered and sent to us without further question.  That is what real customer service would have been.  Not going back and forth begging for a solution only to be told over and over again that we were out of options.

I am very grateful to people like Mike Watson in Newington, NH who has attempted to smooth this over and make it as painless as possible, but unless this gets resolved within the next month not only will you have lost us as customers for the rest of our lives but you will also be taken to small claims court where we will not only be asking for the replacement but also for our time spent on the phone with you at our hourly rates, time taken off of work at our hourly rates, full payment of plowing service, full lawn repair cost as well as payment for emotional distress.

We are really just hoping to resolve this situation in good terms with Sears, and really to just be able to plow our driveway without ruining our lawn.  Neither of us feels that it is too much to ask for.  I am hoping to hear back from you in regards to this email as if we do not resolve this situation within the next month we will be taking legal action.

Best Wishes and Happy New Year.

 

Their Response-

Thank you for contacting Sears. We are listening to what you have to say and we appreciate the time you have taken to let us know what you think about the difficulties that you have experienced with the delayed repair of your tractor and the issues related to the immediate availability of a replacement. We are always looking for ways in which we can improve. Sears regrets that we have not been able to quickly resolve the issues for you.

Unfortunately, this time of year is a very difficult time for ordering tractors since our inventory has been depleted and we do not typically receive additional replacements until we get closed to the spring season. Sears has offered to replace the item and we are more than willing to once a a replacement item that you have selected is available for delivery thorough our Sears Home Delivery system is available.

Please continue to check with your local store and our website for alternate item that meet your requirements and are acceptable for you with regards to pricing. Items that are offered online will typically allow you to check for the availability of the home delivery option. If you are not able to check the item, please contact us by phone at
1-800-479-6351 and we will check availability and submit for a replacement. Again,w e apologize for the delay and the inconvenience that this has cuassed you.

We want you to have the best possible experience with Sears, by providing this feedback we can improve and serve you better. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any additional questions or concerns. Thank you again for shopping at Sears.

Sincerely,
Walter W.
Sears Holdings Corporation

 

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Comments (5)

  1. Wow! “Walter W.” . You don’t even get a last name. Sounds like your tracktor collided with “breaking bad”.

  2. Lauren – We regret to hear of the multiple setbacks you have experienced with your tractor purchase, and apologize that a satisfactory resolution has yet to be found. We would like the opportunity to discuss some options we have to help make this right. Please send the following information – contact #, screen name (Lauren Renee Angers), phone # used at time of purchase to smadvisor@searshc.com – Thanks, Brian S.

  3. Matt

    Lauren,

    Reading your story brought me right back to the horrible experience I also had with Sears over a new water heater I needed installed right away due to the cold winter weather. I bought their recommended heater costing me far more than I wanted to spend but they convinced me it would be worth it the long run. They told me it was in stock and they would be out the next day to install it which was great as I had no hot water. The appointment was cancelled though because the heater wasn’t in stock after all but was being shipped from another location so it would be delayed by a day, which ended up being two days. Finally, after three days with no hot water, they were coming to install it the next morning so I took the day off from work and waited. At 12pm, I called to ask where they were and I was told they were delayed but would be there in the afternoon. At 4pm, I called back to find out when they would be arriving and I was told there was record of my appointment and that no one would be available until the next day. I hit the ceiling. I took the day off and waited at home all day for nothing. I called customer service and was transferred to 3 or 4 different people to see what could be done for all the errors and my inconvenience and all they did was apologize and offer me a $50 gift card. After a heated discussion that went on for a bit, I cancelled the order and immediately called Lowe’s and bought one from them. They installed it the next morning and it’s worked beautifully ever since and it cost $100 less than Sears.

    Unfortunately, the Sears of my parents generation isn’t the Sears of today. I will never buy anything from them again.

    Matt

    • LaurenRenee

      It really is unfortunate. Sears really doesn’t seem to understand customer service or even acceptable service. Hell, even mediocre service. I do have to say that in the end we did come to a conclusion, I have an update for that coming hopefully tonight, so check back later to read how it finally ended 5 months into the process…

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