Sears Canada: measuring the wrong service metrics

by alec on February 9, 2007

Customer loyalty is one of those things that you have to work really hard to preserve.  It takes a long time to build a brand around great service, but it can be easily destroyed by making a few, innocent enough, but cumulatively poor, customer facing decisions.

Take the example of Sears Canada.  In May of last year, the Saunders household sent up a call for help.  Our new-ish washer / driver combo had just come out of the extended warranty, and had a rather catastrophic failure.  Water was pouring all over the floor when the washer filled.  A call to Sears resulted in a $300 repair.  The overall experience was entirely dissatisfying, and we felt we had been badly treated.  In fact, I was so peeved with Sears that I wrote about it here.  That post has since become a bit of a magnet for unhappy Sears customers, attracting four or five new (and usually lengthy) comments per month from people who need a place to air their beefs with Sears.  Most of those posts start with “I’ll never buy another Sears product again.”

Imagine my surprise yesterday when 268 days later a Sears Canada employee named Trevyn Davis dropped by and left comments!  But rather than be contrite, the comments were in fact a defense of Sears Canada’s policies. Some examples:

  • For rural areas, Sears Canada contracts repairs out to third parties.  The third parties are supposed to contact you within 24 hours.  According to Trevyn, “If no contact has been made within 48 hours, it is your responsibility to contact our 800 number so we may then let the service unit know that no contact has been made.” Why is it the customer’s responsibility to hound Sears?  Why wouldn’t the service unit simply follow up with the contractor directly?  Better yet, why doesn’t Sears require that the contractor follow up with them?
  • In defending Sears practice of giving a time window for the tech to arrive, rather than a specific time, Trevyn writes: “Call outs with the estimated time of arrival should come the morning of service. That’s when the print outs of all service calls are reviewed and scheduled and assigned to each technician. We can’t guarantee a time, because we don’t know where that technician will be enroute. We don’t know where they are…they are on the road doing their job. We are not the only company who gives out estimated time of arrival. We do that more so to gurantee service that day. Some company’s will go as far as a 12 hour window with no estimated time of arrival. You just know that you have to wait for service. “  Well, no, it IS a terrible customer experience. Sears doesn’t call until the day they’re going to come.  Most of us have schedules that book up a week or more in advance.  They can’t give an estimate of when they’ll be there.  And then they justify this policy by saying, in essence, some of our competitors are worse.  Trevyn finishes this little paragraph with this gem, “Four hours really isn’t that bad and if all you’re doing is sitting and thinking about how Sears has screwed you over, then of course…in your mind we do have terrible customer service and it will be a miserable expeirience that you should go and rant off to your friends and anybody else that will listen. Everybody is free to their opinion, as closed minded as it may be.

You can read the rest of it yourself.  There are some gems like “”it’s all in your use and care guide“, and “it’s all in your contract, you just have to read it carefully…after all you did sign it“.  That’s the last thing an irate customer wants to hear.

Sears Canada is making a classic mistake with this approach.  They’re measuring the wrong thing.  Rather than focus on customer satisfaction, they’re measuring costs.  Otherwise they’d be more flexible with the warranty support, and they’d ensure that technicians carry the necessary parts in their trucks.  Rather than think through the experience from a customer perspective, they’re focused on efficiency.  Otherwise they’d offer service times days ahead so that customers could plan their days, and they’d offer specific scheduled times so that customers didn’t have to spend hours waiting.

And never mind the spokesperson who answered complaints 268 days later.  Painting the customer as unreasonable, or stupid is hardly a winning strategy.

When you’re designing the support programs for your company, keep an eye on some of these classic mistakes.  Be empathetic to your customers; bend over backwards to make sure they’re satisfied; recognize before you pick up the phone that the person on the other end is already upset, and make sure the call is a good experience; solve the customers problem; and build processes to support making the customer experience as positive as possible.

Measure satisfaction, not truck rolls and phone call duration.

{ 45 comments }

Dale Wolf February 9, 2007 at 6:26 am

Great story about Sears. For the rest of the story check out how three Harvard professors worked with Sears just to avoid this kind of problem. A real problem exists when corporate goals and operating policies clash with one another, leaving customers scratching their heads. http://contextrules.typepad.com/transformer/2007/

bgrier February 13, 2007 at 2:48 pm

I’ll open with an observation: all my experiences with Sears Canada have been fine, not outstanding but fine.

Now on to the real issue, the defensive nature and tone of the Sears Canada post. Yeah, that really sucked. Not sure why they felt compelled to respond in that manner. As you said in your item, they’re making a classic mistake and applying the wrong business principles to the customer experience.

From an operational perspective, yes, they do have to measure truck rolls etc…but from a customer service / satisfaction perspective, yeah, they’re missing the mark. They appear to be living in the 20th century, not the 21st.

Omni March 10, 2007 at 9:59 pm

HAHA, you folks are funny. Business are here to make a profit. I admit to shop at Gucci, Louis Vuitton for fasions as well at Sears. Gucci bags 3 of them broke down after 1 year of use, $1200 a pop. LV 2 year warranty, only stitching or re-glazing at $1500 a pop. Yet, people line up to buy, and me too.

Customer Service is given when you purchase to create win-win situation. That means, you get product, company makes money. NOT you get product and company lose money.

Alec March 22, 2007 at 6:05 pm

Wow… you got taken. Customer loyalty is created when you provide products and services that people want, and then stand behind them.

Omni March 23, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Alec, I mentioned SERVICE, not LOYALTY…. please read carefully.

Omni March 23, 2007 at 10:35 pm

By the way.. speaking of loyalty.. companies need a group of loyal PROFITABLE customers, this group consists of customers that follow policies, (follow return / warranty policies and live up to contract laws). Companies do not need and will lose the ones who are non-profitable (complain after warranty is over). It is a waste of company resource to deal with these customers. As stakeholders of multi-retailers, I’d like to see those Non-Profitable customers not shop at my retailers that I have stakes on.

By the way… we do pass on the cost to ALL CUSTOMERS for expense related to a lot of issues that were brought up in this and other respective forums. At the end, all companies that I am stakeholders of, the goal is to Make Money. At the end, I don’t really care if your appliance dies after a day or my Gucci bag’s metal clasp broke a day after warranty. The company has fulfilled their obligation under contract law.

I strongly urge those who posts to sue, to go ahead and consult legal advise, and understand the spirit of contract law.

Alec March 24, 2007 at 6:21 pm

You're missing the point, Omni. Go back and reread the post. It's about how focusing on the costs of service can destroy loyalty. People who believe in the "value" of Gucci and LV if they won't stand behind their products deserve to get taken. Great companies are built by people who care about their customers.

Omni March 26, 2007 at 3:35 pm

Apologize of my spelling errors. Juggling with few forums similar to this. Very interesting, thank-you to all OP. Your stories are entertaining.

Omni March 26, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Totally disagree. “NEWISH” washer… “OUT OF EXTETENDING WARRANTY”. Direct quote and highlights the contradictory comment the customer just made. Too bad I had to point this out, since I re-read the post suggested by Alec.

The customer is ticked off:
1) New but few years old washer broke down. (totally illogical)
2) Non-sense service calls. (too long, rude, etc…)

Business Application, regarding loyalty and costs.
1) Appliance is “Not New”: Original and Extended Warranty has passed. Revenue and Profit materialized and company is relieved from legal obligation to even servicing it.
2) Service can be enhanced IF you are willing to pay more. If you do not want to wait, you are free to consult other qualified technicians. No one asks you to go to Sears for service.

Costs vs. Loyalty in this case, as you ask me to re read the post. Company took the appropriate action.
Unless you tend to agree with “Out of Extended Warranty” equal “New-ish”. Be reminded a $80,000 car also has 4 years warranty. I happen to drive one. I’d be extremely surprised to see your $4000 appliance carry even longer than that. Also my dealership cannot take my car when they’re fully booked too. As well my dealership also cannot give me an estimate time until they have looked at it.

Speaking abour the estimate… I’d bet your doctor cannot diagnose you over the phone. My PhD and MD friends were laughing at me when I asked them to see if I got admomen cancer vs. heartburn over the phone.

I shop at Sears too, and a lot of people are. I’d rather they stick to what they’re doing. Because if they try to entertain your illogical thoughts, and compensate your “Actually Old” appliance. All other customers have to bear the costs including me. And no I do not want see that happen.

Alec March 26, 2007 at 9:51 pm

Omni, I run a company and I’ve been a business person for a lot of years. Yes, legally they have no responsibility. But they do have a responsibility to their shareholders to preserve the value in the Sears brand, which is over 100 years old, and has always stood for high quality and excellent service. They’re not delivering. Moreover, rather than being emphathetic to the customer, they’re using the same kind of stupid and legalistic arguments you’re advocating, which just ticks people off. Today’s Sears management is DRIVING CUSTOMERS AWAY.

But you know what? You’re right. They don’t have to stand behind their products. IF THEY WERE SMART… they would. My lat Sears washer and dryer lasted over 25 years. This one broke down after a little over 3 years. What’s different now?

Omni March 27, 2007 at 8:10 am

Umm.. as far as I can recall.. Sears Canada has been around a little over 50 years… less than 55.

SMART vs. REALITY

Sears does not make ANY appliances. There is no Kenmore Factory anywhere in the world. All the Kenmores are actually from Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Amana (Maytag now) and so forth.. Kenmore vacs are mainly from Panasonic.

Sears is already buying from leading manufacturer around the world. Quality has gone down that's a fact, but it is nothing much Sears can do as a RETAILER. You buy the same model at the Brick, Leon, Futurehop and such retailers and they all come from the same manufacturer line. Retailer's obligation is to help you select, offering you service at the point of sale. And fulfill their promise regarding warranty and to deliver everything within the contract.

Why would you call SEARS after Warranty and not the manufacturer after your appliance broke down? Do you think your respective Sales person or the Tech were the one designing and building your fridge? I'd suggest you call manufacturer and file claims. BUT I'd bet you won't get anything out of them, as they stand totally firm with their warranties.

So far, all appliance manufacturers and retailers are enjoying healthy financial growth. More than welcome to read their 10k reports.

Alec March 27, 2007 at 3:53 pm

Omni, dude… you’ve made your point. Not standing behind their products is good for the bottom line. We all know this, and we all know that Sears used to be more customer oriented. ’nuff said.

As for your point about Sears appliances… while it’s true that there is no Kenmore factory worldwide, there is a Kenmore brand and only one place to have it serviced. The reason our family bought Kenmore, rather than going right next door to Corbeil (Sears’ discount outlet) and buying the same Inglis brand washer, was because of our fabulous experience with Sears service in the past. Now we know that the new Sears service sucks, we won’t pay the Kenmore brand premium again.

As the post ORIGINALLY stated, Sears is making a mistake with this approach. By measuring cost, rather than satisfaction, they are losing customers.

Omni March 27, 2007 at 10:46 pm

Quite the opposite… Sears is enjoying sales increases in top line and profitable growth in the bottom line.
Shares of Sears Canada are in high $20 as oppose to high $10s couple of years ago.

Top Line growth by:
1) Better qualifying customers by explaining product features and warranty at point of sale.
2) Ensure customers are aware of warranty entitlement and educating them of the value of Protection Agreements.
3) Enhance the floor layout and strengthen revelent lines of products. Eg. Stainless Steel, Front Load washer/dryers etc..

Bottom Line growth by:
1) Sticking to manufacturer's limited warranty to minimize costs.
2) Adhere to clear and written in black and white warranty entitlements again to minimize unexpected costs.

So far, all I can see is they're doing quite well.

ab.. service tech November 13, 2007 at 1:20 pm

Omni nice that your a stakeholder with the company an it seems you know what your talking about but why don,t you ask sears about how they treat there employees,THEY don,t GIVE A DAMN FOR IT IS US THAT HAS TO KEEP QUIET ABOUT THE SERVICE FLASHES AND RECALLS ON THE APPLIANCES. ANY HOW IT,S NICE TO SEE THE SHARES UP, AFTER ALL THEY TOOK THE PROFIT SHARING AWAY FROM US EMPLOYEES LAST YEAR ONLY TO SEE THE SHARES DOUBLE WITHIN A FEW WEEKS,Well maybe if we all[employees] stand together and fight for our benefits which our being taken away from us as we speak, you share holders will throw us some CRUMBS so we can survive…whoops hope this don,t hurt the shares..

dough December 9, 2007 at 3:36 pm

Hey there
servicer for 25+ yrs. Sears tech, Eatons tech, Frigidaire tech.
Look, Sears is the best retailer and has the service department in Canada. They care about their customers and have a great customer service department. Sears has changed it’s way because they HAD TO!! For years, Sears gave away the farm trying to make every customer happy. It lost big money and so had to set some rules to be productive, efficient and make customers responsible for their actions. Now, warranty call and service contract calls are covered by a LIMITED WARRANTY. Simply, the customer doesn’t get everything for free. It there is a sock in the pump or it’s broken or frozen etc etc. the customer gets to pay for it.
The customer is now responsible and doesn’t get to walk away at no cost.
On service call, Sears demands a service contractor contact the customer with 48 hours. My contract say it’s the rule and we make every effort to follow it. Some customer don’t have an answering machine or a readout and somehow expect the service to contact the customer even though they don’t answer the phone. Also. it’s hard to predict 3 0r 4 days before the date of the call how many other calls are in that zone so, calling the day of the call and giving you an idea as to when he or she shall arrive is the only way it can be done.
Hey, I’ve worked with and for them all and I bitch and complain but Sears has gotem all beat.
Stop yur bitchin and give us a break! If you don’t like the process ( and I’m sorry, there are not enough servicers to arrive at exactly the time you want , take the machine to SEARS!!!!
You know, servicers have a hard time. They are forever reading manuals trying stay up on the many new appliances out there. We hear yur bitchin when servicing Sears, Whirlpool, Frigidaire, Inglis, Moffat, McLary, GE and all the other brands. Stop writing on the web and direct your complaints to the comanie and just maybe some improvements can be made.
BETCHA SEARS WILL BE THE ONLY THAT CARES ENOUGH TO ANSWER YOUR LETTER!!
And the sears tech, quit you jerk………or are you one of the ones on strike?

dough January 11, 2008 at 7:42 am

Wedll, did everyone have a nice holiday?> I see no others have written since my last rant.
Most servicers and service companies try and provide the best service possible. Many of us are Sears contractors doing the calls beyond the big cities and gave Santa our wish list. So far, the same old same old problems.
OUR WISH LIST
Put your address number up so it's readable.
If it has snowed, PLOW YOUR driveway !
LOCK UP your dogs!! We don't care if they have ever bitten before!
Be there !
Remember, the previous call may have taken longer than anticipated.
Stop your bitchin about the product. Call the manufacturer and not beat the tech up.
Tell the tech ALL the problems and not in dribs and drabs.
Don't take the machine apart and expect the tech to find the problem based on your diagnosis. (after all, why did you call for service if you know whats EXACTLY wrong!)
Stay back and let the tech do his job. Key your chatting down to a dull roar.
Clean around the area of service and move your stinking kitty Litter box to another room.
In your laundry room, move your smelly laundry and garbage from around the machines…. we dont want to see you undies and smelly clothes.
Put yourt animals outside and away from the serviceman.
Take your yelling screaming kids away from the work zone and keep them away!
Doing all that will result in an efficient repair and less strain on the tech.
And if you are unhappy and want someone to cover in under warranty and or a concession, talk to the manufacturer or the DEALER IN ADVANCE.
And last but not least, PAY YOUR BILL AND DONT ASK FOR A DISCOUNT!!!

If you do all the above and the servicer was CRAP, EAT HIM ALIVE!!!!!

AB.SERVICE TECH January 23, 2008 at 4:52 pm

OMNI STILL HOLDING SEARS STOCK, BETTER SELL THERE ONLY 1/2 OF WHAT THEY WERE WORTH TWO MONTHS AGO 18 BUCKS. MAYBE THESE FORMS ARE TAKING THERE TOLL ON SEARS CANADA STOCKS

Terry February 7, 2008 at 6:05 pm

I love this site, I have worked for over thirty years with Sears Canada Ink
Wish everyone knew how sears have screwed full time techs. But i must add " If you are nice to techs they will be nice back" The first thing not to do is piss off the guy who makes up your bill. Have a great day and remember, we are only doing what we can to help.
Terry

MultiTech February 7, 2008 at 10:08 pm

LOL, I love the above dough!!! Lock up the dogs? Why not the cust. LOL,

Im a service tech here in the US for Sears, and work(ed) as independent and still have ties to WP, LG, Samsung, and others.

What people really dont get is it is not "Sears-Kenmore" pushing out the appliance but Whirlpool, Electrolux, GE, LG, Samsung, and others, and they just have the sticker and differen't look. You can also thank the Govt. on the "energy star" appliance rating guidelines for mfg. as they have changed things in order to stay in business, that means changing vendors on parts, thinning liners on friges and many other things.
Yes, Sears Corporate has problems and structure sucks at this time, EX: Where's our CEO? Gone. Not enough money. But if you only knew what has changed on trying to focus on the customer then you would understand. Here we have a tech in our CS dept. that pre-screens calls, that means if they see a Service order that parts are to be ordered (WITH the help of the customer to diagnose) they ship the part out before the 1st tech even gets sent to the cust. house. The 800 number is getting a big facelift on training the minimum wage making personel that get treated like crap when its not their fault, "sometimes". EX: Customers cant get their crap straight half the time, (appliance info or warranty, address for service, ph. numbers) thinking they are in warranty but not, or CS dont enter correct info for routing then we get the trash and are expected to correct it.. the list can go on and on.

Think that it is unfair for a frige to be out, LOL think about how a Sears tech is graded its all about numbers. If they aren't up enough or at least a 3 or above, no raise. PPI or probation in other situations. This goes for A&E techs as well. Which Whirlpool basicly runs A&E dispatch. Oh yea, The time it takes to deal with BS from all sides of the logistics and customers. try sitting on the phone for 45min to check status on parts to avoid a 15. Or what we call a reschedule. It screws our numbers. Do we have every part on our van, NO, The most common parts, I know I have at least 40,000. dollars worth on mine and Completes are good. One thing I have learned from Sears is the customers think we OWE them. WRONG. You have the choice to purchase what you want, and where, but your still going to get the same "Crap" at Lowe's or Home Depot, and please read your owners manual, or call Rapid Resolution, or the sales person before calling in for service, cause I do have to charge for customer instructs, it is NOT covered by the mfg. and only time a tech shouldn't charge under MPA is parts and labor, only if the cust. didn't damage it. LOL, God i wish i had a dime for every cust that stated "I dont know how that got damaged? It cant be me!" LOL yea. I love some customers to death, some are great, even have some converted to sears/A&E due to my service. But there are some you just have to bite your lip and wish they come from a different genetic pool. LOL. Alot of the time the customer thinks that once they buy something new it shouldn't be kept up, and its going to last like his grand-papy's 40 yr. old washer did. Wrong.

Its not my fault you bought it from sears either, but the honesty is the In-Home-Services side of sears makes the most money out of all of sears. This is a business, times change, Stockholders like money, we all do, but the thing is that Techs have to bail out the other deadweights "Retail" and other parts of this corporation. How do you think Kmart and Sears got back up financially? US, the Tech. and a few other sections, goto SHC website and see how much we made last year.
As far as Retail, that doesn't know what there selling as long as their selling and getting a PA sale cause the only way they eat is if they sell But that is at Lowe's and Home Depot. There is so much even on my end as a tech on keeping up on every appliance and HVAC system I repair (knowing what the hell your doing) It gets stressful, some areas have such a high turnover rate on techs cause of the requirements of a tech, code of conduct, and responsibility that we have. Honestly, independent servicers have it easy if your only a tech, not management.

But, Overall Sears/A&E IS the biggest servicer. We are in this to make money and take care of the cust. following the guidelines given to us. To some it is just a job, and yes, you have "inbreed techs" that you wonder how they even can tie their shoes, but, No one wants our job, look at how many techs that there used to be, Plenty, now? Not as many. Its hard to fill our shoes. that is why it takes 2 weeks to 4 to get us out, and under staffed, and crap from the mfg., Which is job stabiltiy on all ends of service. Sears is changing. Don't know about Canada but here, yea.

As far as me being a tech, I love it. Its easy. Seeing Cust. getting pissed about the bill, or coverage IW, or PA, makes me laugh. Why? Cause I know I cant control it, and it shows the weakness of the cust.
I do more than I should to help the cust. here. After you do that for a while you get numb to it. But, put on the smile, SELL, SELL, SELL, and keep your numbers up.
Oh yea, about time windows,, LOL. Why is it a window? Mainly cause we go out and a call takes longer than expected. EX: cust gives false info, not the correct address, having routing pull calls due to cust. refusing to pay, etc. that takes ME time on the phone. Do I like it? NO, its protocol. I'd rather be at home with my kids instead of listening to a cust. giving me the runaround "Just give me 10 min. and i'll be there" Yea, like HE**, Ive waited up to an hr. on some when i was green, but if your not at home and dont ans. your ph, then get your priorities straight. You called for service, then make it home. I cant wait when I have 14 to 18 calls on my route, and im not adding you back after routing calls you and confirms not at home and pulls you off my route, unless I know i can. There are other customers that pay also and have to try to get to all before the 8 hr. day ends, Why? Numbers again.

Will continue later.

Jim April 3, 2008 at 12:20 pm

Customer service is pathetic!!!! I recieved my 8th stove from sears after fighting with customer service for 2 1/2 years. I called alot. I told the sale staff. They tried to help. I bought a top of the line kitchen aid for 1900 dollars and after the dust settled they gave me 1200 back but I had to buy from them since it was a credit. The new stove LG 1700 dollars is now in for service. I hope this one will be fixed. The service guys came out at least 2 times a week. There must be at least 5 guys in this shop. They all stated "cant believe this situation hasnt been resolved yet". Anyway I can go on and on but I am done.

Jim April 13, 2008 at 7:42 am

Well the sears guy came again and the wrong part came in.
stainless steel instead of white.

Darrell April 17, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Sears does not care about anything but profits . Just ask the the service techs they have been locked out in Vancover B.C Canada. They have been Locked out For 6 and a half months, for standing up to these jerks . You think you have trouble getting serve on your appliances try living in Vancover. There is a union Boycott against sears so please don't shop at sears., until they get these tech back to work with a fair agreement . For more info go to IBEW web site LU213. Its about time that all the appliance technicians start to stand up for them self and join a Union. at least you would have a voice in your work place. The reason that service stinks with sears is that they pay a little over $22.00 per hour , this is for a tech with over 30 years with the company , These are trades men start paying what they are worth.

Tom May 1, 2008 at 12:26 pm

On March 28th, Omni said that Sears is enjoying sales increases in top line and profitable growth in the bottom line.

Where did you get that info? For the 12 months ended on Feb 2, 2008, their sales are down by nearly 16% and profits down by nearly 4%.

And I am yet another customer who will never buy anything from Sears again.

Our washer, still under warranty, broke down a couple of years ago and took almost 2 months to get repaired. Then we had problems in January, still under extended warranty, and we are still waiting to get it back. We are in a rural area so they took it to a repair centre with a request (added by the serviceman) that we needed it back ASAP since our nearest laundromat is 15 miles away, then Sears had to order parts, latest word – after I called them today to find out – is that the parts are in and they are scheduled to start repairs on May 13th. Service?? I don't think so.

Lei-Anne May 24, 2008 at 5:36 pm

I too have had a most dis-satisfying experience with Sears Canada. After 15yrs of being a loyal "Kenmore" client, I will never again purchase anything from Sears. I have had Kenmore washers, dryers, fridges, stoves and hot water tanks- always found the customer service to be exemplary until recently. My 16mth old washer stopped working- full of water and clothes on a Friday night. A call to "sears customer non-service" resulted in no less than 15 more phone calls during a 2 wk period. I finally became so frustrated I pushed my washer and dryer( that has warranty) outside and purchased a new Maytag set from another retailer. I am selling all my appliances with "kenmore" tags at a discount – if anyone wants one… I found their customer service and repair reps to be condesending, ignorant, un-sympathetic and out right rude. I was told they didn't know when I could get my appliance repaired, they scheduled a date and no-one showed then told me the next date would be another two weeks, they would not give me any names to have my appliance repaired on my own. They told me I would just have to be patient, that's just the way it is- while my work clothes rotted in my locked washer… Today the repair man showed up and gave me a lecture because I bent the hinges on the washer door getting my molding/ mildewing laundry out of my inoperative washer… and he has to come back in two weeks to really repair it because he has to order parts… I am a customer service manager for a car dealership and let me say- this is the worst service I have ever had! If one of my employees ever behaved this way, they would be fired. Let alone everyone of them who has customer contact. On the other hand my Dell computer crashed 2 and half years after purchase..Dell paid for all the shipping- repaired stuff my children had actually damaged on top of the warranty issue and returned it to me pre-paid, no charge in a week. Maybe Sears could learn a few customer service lessons from Dell…

Tom May 26, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Update on my May 1st post. I will tell you the end result when our washer finally comes home (promised for Wednesday the 28th of May, after I called the service people several times – today I made a real pest of myself and warned that I was going to call every hour on the hour until someone called back.
Typically, the person you reach doesn't have direct contact with the service department and can only leave a message via computer. Several were left asking the actual service department to call and let us know what was happening. FINALLY we go hold of someone who cared enough to do some real investigating and late this afternoon we finally got a call back – seems the machine has been ready to ship back to us since May 13th but they were a bit(?) behind on paperwork and it was actually scheduled to be sent out next week (bear in mind we have been without the machine since February). The person who called us back managed to get that changed to this week. Also, bear in mind that we had told them we were in a rural area and our nearest laundromat was 15 miles away but it appears that they didn't consider it important to get it back to us as quickly as possible.
Would the couple of Sears people who have been saying how great Sears is please tell me how they can justify this as being good service?

dough Says: "They care about their customers and have a great customer service department." Are you serious – their service is SLOW and they don't call back unless you bug the hell out of them. And I never yell or swear at the person on the phone as I know they are just doing their job but it certainly gets frustrating.

A comment by Omni: "Unless you tend to agree with “Out of Extended Warranty” equal “New-ish”. If the machine is over 10 years old, I would consider it "new-ish". Our first Kenmore machine lasted 20 years, our second 25 and is still in use by my son so it is not really "old" unless it is at least 10 years old.

As to warranties: GOOD companies will look at the problem and often make repairs "under warranty" on something that should not have broken as long as the product has not been abused. I know my local car dealer did a $2,000 repair on my car 2 months after my warranty had technically expired – based on mileage and how I had cared for my car, the service manager said the problem should not have occured.

Long and short of it: I will buy my next car from that dealer and recommend him to others. Unless Sears make drastic changes, I will never buy from them again and recommend that my friends and family think twice before making a significant purchase there.

Lorrain August 1, 2008 at 3:21 am

Wow!
I've just read all comments and now feeling that I really don't know what to do next as shocked to read all this (thank God for internet though).
I purchased and LG front loading washing machine 3 years ago from Sears.
It died 2 weeks ago, won't even turn on.
I called LG first being warranty had expired; first response to me by LG is to contact Sears where you bought it from!
I was quite surprised at this being I mentioned 3 times the warranty was over, it was 3 years ago and it's an LG.
They didn't want to hear it…funny I thought LG was top of the line, guess they don't stand by their products.
So I called Sears, waited 2 weeks for a repair man.
He advised $600.00 to repair as was the main control panel/motherboard.
The repair man did NOT take any boxes apart, just opened up the top of the machine, hooked something up to it; quoted me the $600.00, which I did not agree to pay, and left.
He was very nice but then admitted he hadn't worked on many LG machines as mine; but was surprised to see the problem being a "newish" machine, which I certainly appreciated his honesty.
In the mean time a friend was over, he opened the box where the mother board was and found a burnt out fuse!
He's now in the process of finding the fuse and coming back to see if that was all it needed.
Stay tuned for my next update once I find out if this fixes it.
If it does, my next call will be to Sears to get my $70.00 repair charge back; and then to LG to complain about their applicances.
I know now that I will never purchase any LG appliance again after this experience.

As for customer service!
I used to work in customer service 15 years ago when all companies seemed to focus on customer service.
Shortly after all rules started to change and customer service went away and you were to sell, sell, sell!
Every call IS a sales opportunity is what I was told.
The company even records your call, grades you on your calls and if you didn't sell you were warned and scored against.
Of course being this went against my integrity I left the customer service group.
I loved the job prior and helped the customer as best I can but I cannot live with myself trying to sell to a customer something they did NOT need!
All companies now seem to have gone this route!
Perhaps it's time WE as consumers make a stand!
I know anyone reading this that works in so called "customer service" can relate 100%!

Service tech August 19, 2008 at 7:29 am

Dear Appliance owner
Be aware most appliances NOW only come with a one year warranty. That warranty is provided by THE MANUFACTURER, end of story!!!
If you believe the "warranty" includes everything including panties stuck in the pump, bra supports holding the impeller and making noise, glass in the pump, power surges, power brownouts WHY???? If you were the manufacturer and using you dime, would you cover it? Aint da job up to da customer to clear this crap from pockets and plates?
Look, Sears is no diffrent than anyone else, they gotta make a profit. Yes, a profit!!!! Yes I know, you thought it was the Sally Anne right?
Before B#tchin, think about it!
Ok, all service providers are less than perfect at times…they are human.
Just a thought from a service tech that tries to a good kob everytime.
I am one of the guys that sees your crappy clothes beside the washer, the filthy laundry room, the dead food in you fridge and the missing stuff from the office. I am the one that sees your pot in the freezer and the wife playing twinky toes with your best firend while you are away. MOST IMPRESSIVE!!
Have a good Day.

Kimberly September 20, 2008 at 5:47 am

I am quite shocked by those individuals who are attempting to compare "panties stuck in a hose" with "bearings need replacing after 4 years".

Can you honestly not see the difference???

I wouldn't dream of expecting a company to cover any costs if the damage was something I, myself, was responsible for. However, when purchasing a high-end item that is touted as having a lifespan of around 18 years, I most certainly expect that, with normal use, the product and all it's major parts will last very close to that length of time.

Extended warranties should not be used by a company as a way to absolve itself of its responsiblity to require quality manufacturing from its suppliers. They should be in place to cover the anticipated minor repairs that one would expect to encounter along the way.

To illustrate my point; we purchased a new flattop, stainless steel range from Sears and the self clean feature stopped working after 13 months (only used twice during that period as I don't cook often). We had decided not to obtain the extended warranty so, when this problem occurred, I didn't bother calling as, a: I hadn't purchased the extended warranty and, b: it wasn't an integral operating part that broke.

The sheer volume of customers (myself included) who are complaining about defective control panels and bearings on these washers, two very crucial operating components, should in itself be a heads-up to Sears that something needs to be done to restore the integrity of the product. When the parts that consistently break cost more than the machine itself to repair, there is a serious manufacturer's defect.

This should NOT fall on the shoulders of the consumer.

And Omni…. Your atrocious spelling errors and grammatical bastardizations combined with your repeated references to your LV & Gucci, $80,000 cars, your MD and PhD friends, makes me question the verity of your stated position. Methinks thou brags too much.
Are you a shareholder in infomercial products, perhaps? That is the only type of company, that I'm aware of, that bases their bottom line on multiple initial purchases with no follow through.
Just asking. :-)

As someone who runs (not owns) a multimillion dollar corporation, I know exactly how far a reputable company will go to ensure that their customers are satisfied. If there are too many valid complaints about a specific problem, regardless of contractual law, the company needs to change policy, not the consumer.

Corporate CSR at Sea October 22, 2008 at 7:52 pm

Kimberly, the bearings in a washer generally only go when the customer has repeatedly used too much soap in the wash cycles.

A frustrated SERVICE November 30, 2008 at 9:46 am

Dear Kimberly
First of all SEARS does not make the appliances. Hello!! The "warranty" on that machine came from the manufacturer. When your warranty ran out, the manufacturer was no longer responsible for repair no matter who the retailer is. You were given the opportunity to buy a service contract and declined that offer. END OF STORY. The original warranty was to cover manufacturer defects. Those "defects" appeared after warranty had expired. When the warranty has expired, YOU PAY!!!! Goodness, do customers not get this simple fact?
Now, on the washer bearing issue, I'd like to see the Full model and Full serial number….there is more to that story than has been written.

service tech December 1, 2008 at 7:18 am

You customers totally amaze me.
You had the chance to review the warranty prior to buying the product.
No wonder few want to be in the business of servicing appliances anymore….. some customers just don't get it!! And never will!!!

Lei-Anne December 17, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Dear Mr. "A frustrated SERVICER"… See my post……..- I had a service contract..I waited, I called, I begged, I pleaded…. I have 3 kids and had clothes rotting…You guys suck! You don't care, your ignorant and have zero in the way of customer service skills…

Lei-Anne December 17, 2008 at 8:27 pm

oh and it was eventually fully covered.when somebody finally showed up.. does not make the situation better- at all!!!!!

service tech December 20, 2008 at 7:50 am

Dear Lei Anne
After years and years of servicing and encountering some nasty, ugly customers that don't give two shits about their slippery driveways, not being there when they said they'd be, bitchin and complaining about the product WE DID NOT make, the crap around the machines, the stinking dirty laundry and kitty litter box that is filled with solids, we get a little numb and sometimes DONT CARE!!! Our work area tells us how much YOU care and we can't help it at times.
I want to think my shop does a fairly good job of being there on time. We arrange to be there in the morning or afternoon, call ahead if we have run into a snag and are running late. The odd time we have to reschedule.
And yes, servicers that don't live up to their promises and or not keep you posted deserve a good tongue lashing. I get it!!
I service all brands and for all department stores and manufacturers and do my darndest to get'er done on time. I want the job done and most of all NO return visits because I missed something.
Some of us really do care about doing the best job possible.
You the customer have a responsibilty to make the work area workable.
Remember, the 1-800-4-my-home at Sears is NOT the last answer. Don't be satisfied if you are unhappy with the response. ASK for Corp Customer Service.

charles December 20, 2008 at 7:58 am

Lei-Anne

You are the very customer we all TALK ABOUT about!

Joe February 2, 2009 at 10:10 am

Well reading these comments and having worked in customer service for appliances for 10 years, I have to agree with the techs on this one, you are explained the warranty before you buy sign the dotted line then expect someone else should pay after the warranty, come on people think about it if you sell your house are car to someone should you have to pay for every problem that accours during the life of that house that car. No right. But i do have to admit that whirlpool has the worst service of any brand i have ever seen and well they make most of the kenmore line, also in my experience the nasty customers are the ones that get the worst service any customer who has called me and been nice gets my full attention you call in out of warranty and start yelling you go to the bottom of the list to be helped, so before complaining about the service stop and think about how you have acted and wheather you think the way you have acted deserves any help

Phil February 13, 2009 at 10:23 am

I've had a recent bad experience with Sears Canada. I returned some items that were sent to me in spite of me having promptly cancelled the order. I sent the items – clothing, still sealed in plastic – to the indicated return address along with a completed return form. Sears Canada received the items on December 22, 2008 [I sent them Canada Post, insured, and tracked the parcel]. To date I have yet to hear from Sears or receive a credit on my VISA. They ignored their return form that I filled out and completed along with the return of the goods. They ignored several polite emails from myself. I then filed a complaint with the Ottawa area BBB. In spite of two reminders from the BBB, Sears Canada failed to respond to the BBB. Yesterday was the BBB's deadline. So, Sears Canada failed to respond to the BBB's investigation. Sears Canada has had the goods in fully saleable condition and my money for nearly 2 months.

I will in all liklihood never do any further business with Sears Canada – online, catalogue or retail.

Em Ess March 19, 2009 at 5:35 am

Still waiting for Sears to call re: SERVICE APPOINTMENT(?) They promised to call last night, but did'nt. Called them this morning and they said they would give us a three hour leeway, then said if repairman was around block 5 minutes. What the heck, three hours or five minutes, great, have just had to cancel two appointments, This will be the last appliance I ever buy from Sears. Never ever buy the extended warranty. The word "Service" is not in their vocabulary. To fix the same washer several months ago took them 4 weeks and 3 different service men. Top price for Kmart products…..

Luster April 20, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Having a family member who recently been laid off at Sears Canada, I no longer shop or have any dealings with Sears. Although I feel the gentleman has a valid concern about his appliance warranty. Sears Customer service have been notorious for bad experiences, no different from any other canadian retailer. The best line of defense is to blog and tell the world. And don't bother posting issues on sears.ca, I was told they filter out delete bad reviews.

TFrank August 25, 2009 at 5:02 pm

Here's my sad Sears saga. I'm still hoping they'll come through! I've been so impressed by their customer service (and excellent appliances website) in the past that I've often cited them as a good example when I'm speaking at conferences. Hope I'll be able to do so again!

SBobby August 31, 2009 at 6:16 pm

They doesn't care about making money. They care about losing money. Sears isn't doing so well since 1990's. They were the largest retailer in the world in the 60-70's only operating in USA but they lost the touch with their customer and now they're trying to cut everything they can to profitable. It's hard to find an employee in the store to buy. They don't want to sell, so they are not going to give a better service after you bought their merchandise.

abbie February 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Hope the boys are all strong and stay together as one .NOVA SCOTIA ,NEWFOUNDLAND NEW BRUNSWICK,PEI..Service Rules.and you know what i,am talking about…

Nancy Belfry February 15, 2010 at 4:04 am

I had a mattress charged to my account that we never purchased.
When I called the 1-800 number, they questioned my memory on this purchase."it was purchased and delivered"
We went to the St. Catharines,Ontario Sears (Pen Centre) and asked to see this receipt. Spoke with the Ass. manager and the salesman that sold this mattress to another customer.
(the salesman explaination)The mattress was purchased with her credit card. Then when she left the store the sale was cancelled.
It was then rang through again under another salepersons name, or number and the customer was called at home and asked for her account number.
We were told that she gave this number, it had been written in ink on the sales bill. The account number was ours.
Not one number was close to our account number.
Security was called, our account has been changed.
This mattress purchase was made Jan. 10, 2010, on Jan. 10, 2010 I made a bill payment on my account. In the makeup department one floor down.

We have no real explanation as to who had our account number or what has happened.
The purchased was void from our account and we wait for answers.
I've e-mail Sears Canada Corp. – we wait.
One and 1/2 hours later we left the store without a real explaination.
As we went down the escalator, my husband said to me, "of all those people- 5 in total, did you notice that not one person said sorry to us about this".
Check our bills!!!!!
Nancy Belfry Thorold, Ontario, Canada

gene March 9, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Sears customer service has definitely declined. Its crazy to hear customers say they used to buy only Sears but now they will never use Sears again. The problem is with Sears corporate as they are squid. Here is a few observations.
They keep firing good techs for violating some stupid rules so they can hire somebody who doesn't know how to change a light bulb just so they can pay him less. Out of thirty techs in my group when I started a year ago half of them are gone!
They changed their routing system which is evolving into a 'total' disaster. The old routing system had problems, and for months at our meetings our tech manager would deflect our complaints repititiously saying, "thats all going to go away with the new system." Well this new rollout from ESRI sucks 10 times worse!
Used to we could see our calls at the start of the day and could run more calls because we could switch them around to minimize drive time. Now they give us one call at a time, so we could have a call, drive 30 miles to the next, then drive to a house on the same block where we started. Its happened to me more than once! And if you try to call one of the blockheads they hired to run that circus to change them around they respond, "the systems not letting me." Used to I ran 12-14 calls a day. Now 6-8. The result is people in rural areas waiting 30 days for someone to come out! God help them if its a part order!
The real reason they switched to this system is to have more control over technicians but all its doing is tying our hands and pissing people off.
On the flip side Sears has some strong points. There are a lot of competent techs out there. They just try to get the job done the best they can.
They also have protection agreements that can save you money on repairs.
The hardest part of the job is some customers who want to vent their frustration on you, like its exclusively your fault. Or those who ask the dreaded question can you also look at my… Some of them have this mindset like sears(you) owe them. If a customer is nice and respectful, I will gladly help them in any way possible, I don't mind a little extra work. But I won't do anything above or beyond for a prick.

Elzbieta July 1, 2010 at 7:54 pm

To ALL TECH GUYS….
I don't think when you come to service an appliance people start yelling.
First of all….we, customers, are given rough time when you show up. NO ONE discusses the schedule with us.
WE ALREADY PAID for your service IN ADVANCE by purchasing extended warranty, so don't act like you're doing ME a favour alright? The way I see it, I am doing YOU a favorite so you have a job in the first place.
Second of all… There are many frustrating things in life, but this is another one when you come in, look at the appliance (sometimes not even that), and declare that you need part/parts that you DON'T HAVE with you ?! Well then, what the hell you came in for, in the first place!?
Am I the ONLY ONE with this particular problem???
Thirdly…this is REALLY interesting, when after having to wait for the whatever part was needed, you come back and say WE HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH THESE…

WTF ???? excuse me! Who is the stupid one? Who is the ignorant one? Whenever I called, I am asked for a model and serial #.
So, if you HAD MANY similar problems of the same make appliance, why make me wait??? Why shouldn't I be upset? YOU'RE the guy who supposed to fix it!

That's like going to a garage for oil change, and once there, the guy would say he has to order the oil, even though he is in the oil change business!?

Why should I be nice? I paid for your time and service already!!!
Many appliances outlasted extended warranty without me ever calling for your service. Lucky me. So don't bitch about customers not being nice. Most of us don't get our monies worth with the appliances and the service anymore.

I don't give a shit about your internal problems. It's NOT my problem. You job is to come and fix it, not making friends or procrastinate whether the customer was nice or not. You're right, we don't care about you. We want the appliance in working order because that's why we bought it.

See? It goes both ways. And yes, some people's places are beyond filthy.
Thank you.
P.S . To be fair…Twice, over the years, I took my Kemnore sewing machine to get fix at Sears in Brantford, Ont. (Sears store shipped it out someplace…)
I left a little note asking for a possible fast return as I was in the middle of sewing course and couldn't do with out it.
GUESS WHAT?
The machine got fixed promptly, and returned clean! I was ecstatic! I called and left the thank you, as well as passed it on for a great service.

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