Friday, December 28, 2012
Sears, Change in a Bad Way
My first memory of Sears was when I was six. Walking into the store with my father when it was still more or less a catalog location on Maine Street in Keene, NH. I recall a man at the counter greeting and shaking hands with my father as soon as we walked in. My father presented the man with a broken Craftsman box wrench and before my father could explain what had happened to it, the man was returning with a wrench to replace it. “No explanation necessary Bill” was all the man said. That's how Sears used to do business.
My mother has a Kenmore gas oven that since day one, a monthly tightening of the bolts that hold the handle to the door must be performed. The door itself works perfectly and in fact there is so much spring tension that if you don’t hold onto the handle tight enough, it will nearly rip your arms out of their sockets and slam shut. It needs tightening so often that my mom keeps a screwdriver in a drawer next to the oven just for that purpose. One day about 6 weeks ago my mom called and said she thought the threads were stripped because it wouldn't tighten back up.
I went over the next day and took the handle off to see what the issue was. Here’s what I found…A metal bolt that has no more than four or five threads going into a plastic handle with plastic threads trying to hold back a door that has something on the order of 20 ft lbs of torque when it’s closing! Genius…a design fail. So I went online to see if I could get another handle and tried to find the part myself. It was difficult even using the model number of the actual stove.
So I called Sears Parts Direct, explained the problem and gave the woman the model number to see if she could pull the part number. “Yeah it doesn't work that way sir I need a different number”…I said I’m not at my mother’s, isn't it possible to cross reference from the model number?! “No.” So there’s nothing you can do? “No sir I’m sorry…anything else I can help you with? I guess not. So after some digging I was able to find the part online. For an injection molded plastic handle that weighs less than one pound they want to charge $63.93 thirteen dollars of which is shipping. For thirteen dollars I can overnight a hamster to Zurich!
I refuse to pay for a handle that was poorly engineered from the beginning. So I thought a faster way of bringing attention to my problem was through social media so I tweeted and within five minutes had a response and was told to direct message my contact info so they could remedy the situation within 24 hours… it has been 5 and a half weeks.
I have sent multiple messages and tweets and in return I am told a multiple of conflicting stories about how the problem resolution is being handled. In short… their customer service not only sucks, but is non-existent. The only response I got was 2 days ago a phone call from their Round Rock Texas call center with no message left in my voice mail as to whom had called or a number or person I could call back.
I have a solution to the problem which has cost me less than 4 dollars and five minutes to install. But What I’d really like is to get a properly made handle from the people who are supposed to stand behind their products (one with metal threads or at least a metal shim not the cheap injection molded plastic one that is already an engineering fail) and an apology for such obvious and gross disregard for customer service.
The ball is in your court Sears, are you going to keep me as a lifelong customer, or are you going to drop the ball...again.