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Question DetailsAsked on 5/12/2011

Appliance Repair Cost Dispute

The ice maker in my refrigerator stopped making ice and would not make any for three days. I called the company that I bought the refrigerator from and asked for a service call. The person setting the appointment cited a $55 service call charge and parts and labor to do the repair. I agreed. The repair man showed on time. He went to the ice maker and lowered the lever which prevents ice from being made when raised. The ice maker dumped a set of cubes and filled with water. He told me that the machine was working fine and I probably had a piece (less than a cube) stuck in the mechanism and it had freed itself. There was nothing to fix. Then, he assembled his printer to his laptop computer and printed me a receipt indicating the unit was working fine and no problems noted at this time. Charge: $110. I asked about the $55 service call and parts and labor I had been quoted. He said he wasn't sure where the phone people get their information, but his computer does the billing and there is nothing in it less than $110. I wrote him a check and have been fussing with the company since. They took the position yesterday that it was a legitimate charge because the technician did a check-up of the system. I explained that the work was less than 3 minutes, it took him longer to connect the printer to his laptop and generate my bill than it took to work. And, I pointed out that if the absolute minimum they can charge is $110, then the phone reps should quote $110 as a minimun or shift to $20 because $20 is really no more deceptive than $55. They wouldn't budge from their $110. I explained that my next step would be a complaint with Indiana's Attorney General Consumer Protection Division and a feedback form on Angie's List. They invited me to go ahead. Am I being a poop or does this whole situation have an odd smell?

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25 Answers

0
Votes

You are certainly right to be upset, and the company treated you horribly. (By the way, why not tell us the name of the company here?) I've been on the receiving end of this kind of deceptive practice, and it sounds to me like that's just what it is - deliberately deceptive. It sounds to me like the $55 you were quoted is the usual scam to get the repair person out there, at which time he does something else (or nothing much at all as in your case) and then says the $55 quote was incorrect. You might have refused to pay more than $55, but I know that's difficult when the guy is standing right there and you just want him to leave.

I doubt there is anything illegal here - just unethical and downright wrong. I'd say your only chance of getting some money back would be through the president of the company, who might actually care just a little bit about how his company is perceived. Other than that, getting the word out as you're doing is probably the very best thing you can do.


Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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I left the company name out of the initial post because I'm questioning my own behavior rather than theirs.

Besides, I'm sure Sears Appliance Repair would not treat people this way in other cities/states.[*-)]

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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Don't quote me on this, but to the best of my knowledge Sears outsources their appliance repair, so they may very well treat people this way all around the world. But they treated YOU this way, and that's bad enough.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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Did you calll that specific sub contractor company, or did you call Sears to have the reapairs made?

Either way, I'd call and speak to a company office manager about what you consider an overcharge.


Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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The call for repair was to Sears' maintenance number. And, following the visit, I have tried through their local folks and through Sears' web site to their corporate HQ to clarify and remedy the situation.

They are the ones who invited me to have at the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division.

And, I will.

Amazing how their service levels and practices have changed since being bought as a new, blue light special by that "other" company.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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I guess Sears no longer promises "Customer Satisfaction." The technique you encountered is common enough to have a name, and it is illegal in most states. Tell the Attorney General that you were the victim of a "Bait and Switch."

Answered 7 years ago by Skyray

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I thought I'd never get back here to finish this one.

I got a letter from the Attorney General's Consumer Protection folks indicating that the complaint I made did not produce a violation of law that the AG's office could pursue. However, the AG's investigator was going to pursue this as a mediator on my behalf. That note was in early-late April.

Today I got a check from the company for the difference between what I was quoted as a minimum charge and what they actually charged for the technician to drive out, look at the ice maker and declare it to be working.

I still don't like the approach that the company took and the low-ball estimate if they know that there is no such thing as any visit resulting in that low figure. However, I got mine back so I have to salute the process and take my hat off to Indiana's Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division once again.[:D]


Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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Perserverence pays off!

Interestingly I' threatened to notify the FCC when my computer manufacturer's out sourced customer service gave me the run around - a technician was dispatched within a week

Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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Well done Mike! Hopefully the company won't do the same thing to someone else. Keep fighting the good fight.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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" I' threatened to notify the FCC when my computer manufacturer's out sourced customer service gave me the run around "

Huh? Why would the FCC care about that? They have nothing to do with the customer service - or lack thereof - of a computer manufacturer. I think it's more likely they were going to send out a technician anyway, or just the fact that you complained got their attention. But please don't encourage others to contact the FCC for this kind of thing.

Outsourcing does suck, but unfortunately it's legal. Also, "computer customer service" is nearly an oxymoron. (I bet you were told to reboot, weren't you? [:D]) At least you finally got your computer fixed, one way or another.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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Okay, so I'm late to this thread, but I, too, have heard horror stories about the way Sears treats their customers once the product is out of their hands and in yours. And some of these date back to the mid 1980s, so it's nothing new.

I don't mean the following to be a blanket statement, because things differ from store to store and region to region, but that's yet another reason to start avoiding the big box boys and go with your local home grown companies, IMHO. It's been my experience that the local mom and pops have more to lose by treating their customers like dirt than the big box stores do.

Glad you got your money back. I'd be mighty upset also.

Answered 7 years ago by Chastity1053

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Commonsense, IN my case, it did. Not only the FCC, also the FTC and probably the AG.

Believe me, rebooting was the least of it. I barely managed to keep my cool during 3 3-hour and multiple less time consuming phone sessions....no swearing & no personal insults. perserverence paid off. only thing original in the tower is the fan [:O]

Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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Glad to hear it all worked out. It's disappointing to hear, as my experience with Sears Appliance Repair has been good - twice I've had problems with my dryer that turned out to be extremely minor; in both cases, the repairman (who was here less than 15 minutes each time) didn't even charge me the trip charge. Maybe it's just who they sub to here in Austin, but you can bet that I'm going to keep calling them when I've got a problem.

Answered 7 years ago by austex

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Thanks for your note austex!

I urge anyone who has a good relationship with any business or service organization to keep it and keep it healthy.

They are hard to come by and very, very easy to lose.

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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I've had no complaint with Sears

In fact I will seriouslyconsider buying my next appliances from them. Sears stands behind their products better than most major companies, they are usually willing to match other companies' sales ads; more importantly Sears has a reputation for having covered the difference between National Guard deployment PAY and the basic salary their employees made when working full time at Sears ( Snopes)

Nearly every major US company outsources

Answered 7 years ago by tessa89

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Didn't want to leave this dangling.

Every contact with Sears through whether local or their corporate offices was met with the same response: the charges are appropriate and will stand.

My appeal to the Indiana Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division found that Sears was fairly unwilling to respond to them as well since it took a long, long time and follow-up from the AG's office to prod Sears for an answer.

I finally received an envelope with a check but no indication what the check represented or the intent behind it. I contacted the person at the Attorney General's office who was assigned my case and let her know I had the check with no explanation. She was a bit miffed at the fact that they ignored her and sent me a check with no explanation to either of us. We agreed I would hold the check without cashing it while she wrote them again.

Sears' next response to the AG's office was short and to the point from one of their "Claims Consultants": my charge should have only been for the minimum (trip/diagnostic) since no repair work was actually done. The refund was to take the charge back to the minimum quoted.

Four months and far, far too many people's time and calories to get them to render a decision that was merely taken from my initial request... if you do not do anything, you should not charge for it.




Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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It is just too bad you had to go through all of that, but I'm so glad you stuck with it. The only way to teach these people they cannot treat us this way is for us to make it uncomfortable for them when they do.

We had our own unfortunate experience with Sears recently. We had ordered a riding mower to be delivered to our new house. On the day of delivery we were doing several things at once, so the men dropped off the mower, we saw that it looked like the one we ordered, and then as their truck was pulling out we noticed it was not the model we ordered.

This should have been a simple thing to correct. My husband ran down the driveway yelling at the truck to stop, but apparently they didn't look in their rear-view mirror and they got away. What followed was a comedy of errors as we tried to get hold of someone at Sears who could get in touch with the delivery van and get them turned around, on the theory that they had given us someone else's mower and our mower was still on the truck.

It was so difficult to even find a number to call. We finally found a customer care number and spoke with a woman who said she could not contact the delivery van, and that she had no power to reschedule a delivery. She told us to call the store where we had purchased the mower.

We talked to the manager of the lawn and garden department at the Sears in question. He said he could not contact the delivery van either, that delivery was outsourced to another company and the terms of their contract were that any errors had to be rescheduled within 72 hours, and since this was a Thursday even if he called right away we wouldn't have any hope of getting our new mower until the following Monday. . . .and so on. I told him repeatedly how ridiculous all of this was. He told me to "go ahead and use the mower they left until you get yours delivered," which I said I was not about to do because of liability, etc. I asked him to tell me if I did that whether the delivery driver would be able to transport a mower that had gasoline in it as it would have by then, and he admitted that couldn't happen. I felt like I was descending into ever-deepending circles of Hell trying to get someone - anyone! - to contact the delivery van and get the mower to me. Finally the manager of the department got sick of talking to me and told me to call the first person I'd talked to.

I called her back and told her what had happened since we spoke before. She said "Well, if he told you to use the one they delivered then go ahead." I told her that was not only very much NOT the point, but that I wanted the mower I had ordered and I wanted to know who had the power to call the delivery company and get it straightened out now. She said "no one can do that." I told her if Vice President Cheney wanted it done it would be done, so it could be done, and it was only a matter of putting me in touch with the right people. She said she would call her boss and call me back within 30 minutes.

In 15 minutes she called and said her boss had called the delivery driver and our mower was on its way back to us. She said we could expect a call from the driver himself. She was very apologetic and said Sears would like to send us a certificate to make up for their error. I asked her what the amount of the certificate would be, and she said it would be $50. I told her that was not good enough, because if someone had described all of this to me and asked me if I would go through it all for $50 I would have been outraged. She asked me how much I wanted and I told her I wanted at least $250. Two weeks later we got a certificate for $50.

Of course all of this was absurdly stupid. The mistake should not have been made in the first place, but everyone is human and we all make mistakes. Having made it, there should have been a very simple mechanism in place to contact the delivery truck and fix the problem almost instantly. Instead, because of Sears' convoluted systems and administration, hours of time that could have been better used by everyone involved were wasted on this process. It simply makes no sense at all that a major retailer like Sears would have such a screwed-up customer service system, and I have to think it's because they just don't care. If they did care, none of this would have happened.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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Sears, hmmmmm. We bought a Kenmore Elite washer and dryer from them 2 years ago after having had another brand. The light, which is located in the far rear of the dryer and is covered by a shield, went out. I called service because we have an extended warranty....stop hissing...and they told me it was a "do it yourself" item. Try crawling into the back of a dryer at my age! Anyhow, it got done but I must say that Sears doesn't go the extra mile as they did 20 years ago. Glad you got your issue resolved, Mike, and I think they treated you terribly.

Answered 7 years ago by michelemabelle

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For those who have posted or dropped me a message about their good relationship with this company.... I know their products still earn pretty good marks and I know they still represent a fair value for the dollar.

My note was as much to point out that even companies with good reputations can stumble - - especially those bought by some blue-light special whilst in financial straits. I have spent a fair pile of dollars with them since my younger days - - a drill that I bought from them early in the 1970's sold in a garage sale today...still working well.

Just offering an example and a path to a remedy for someone who might find their long-term relationship, ummm, strained.

[<:o)]

Answered 7 years ago by Old Grouch

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I agree wholeheartedly. Sears products - especially tools and such - are still very much worth buying. We prefer Craftsman tools, and as I've said our last major purchase aside from the house - a riding mower - is a Craftsman. If only they still did their own customer service, deliveries, extended warranties, etc. That's where they fall down.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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You were done wrong... I will not advertise my company for respect to this site, but I own an appliance repair service here in new jersey..

I LOVE SEARS!!!!!

So many customers of mine have the same problem...and they end up calling me.. I charge a service of $50 to diagnose and then quote you what the final repair bill will cost you in the end... For most repair jobs, i can give you an exact quote over the phone before even coming out to your home. Here are a few things to do when calling an appliance repair company.

Give specific datails of you problems and try to get a ballpark quote.. If they refuse to give one then hang up and call someone else. Most repairs are common and a good tech knows what is wrong even before getting to you home.

And also be careful of real low prices from a small company.. they may have little expeiriance or use cheap parts that will require you fix the machine again real soon.

And my last advice for everyone is that You do not have to call Sears or the manufacturer for a repair if you appliance is not covered by warrenty..there is normally a 2-10 day wait till you get them out to your home, then they may have to come back several days later with the part.. call a company that does same day service or next day service. so that way even if you require a special part, it starts the ball rolling and your appliance will be up and running much quicker

Answered 7 years ago by Levi

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Recently purchased a refrigerator from Sears. it was delivered. It was defective and Sears sent a repair man within two weeks of delivery. He worked on it for a while and said let it run a few days to see if it was OK. It was still not running correctly so we called Sears to come pick it up. They wanted to deliver another refrigerator just like the one we had. We decided to just return the defective refrigerator, get our money back and shop for another model. Sears arranged to have it picked up and they charged us $280.00 "restocking fee". To be brief, we made many phone calls and talked to numerous levels of personnel and all refused to waive the restocking fee. Our argument was always 'How can you "restock" a defecive appliance? The store mgr. was nice and tried to get all our money refunded but was over ruled by seniors to her. We will not buy appliances from Sears again! Has anyone else had to pay a restockinf fee to return a defective item??

Additionally we have noticed that since KMart bought out Sears that shopping there is not what it used to be! Even some of the clerks tell us that they are unhappy with a lot of the changes KMart has made in the Sears operations.

Mieki

Answered 7 years ago by Mieki

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What a horrible experience you had, and it certainly is not acceptable.

There is just no excuse for charging you a "restocking fee" when the refrigerator was defective. You did not choose to return the refrigerator, but you were in effect forced to because it didn't work right. THEY are the ones who should have bent over backwards to make sure you were happy. You should have been offered a Sears gift certificate of substantial size for your inconvenience.

I would suggest that you put your experiences in a letter and send it to the attention of the CEO of Sears, or anyone whose address you can find. Tell them specifically what you want in compensation, which would of course include an immediate refund of the "restocking fee." BTW, how did they charge that fee to you? Did you give them a check or did you pay it with a credit card?

This is one of the worst stories I've heard recently in regard to customer service, and even though you did make a valiant effort at the time, Sears still owes you $280 at the very least.

Answered 7 years ago by Commonsense

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I do think that the price you paid was unfair. Since the service company did not perform any service other than visiting your home, they should not have charged any more than for the service call. As to pricing- Let the buyer beware! The key to a successful business is word-of-mouth and it is obvious that you will not be recommending this company to anyone!

Answered 7 years ago by appliancesbuyphone

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One point which might help clear this up - though obviously Sears dropped the ball on this one, but then they are in the process of being run into bankruptcy so what do you expect.


I ran into this once on a warranty repair on a Kenmore range - the Sears service call fee is different than the local contract repairman's - so while Sears may say $55 for instance and that is what the repairman should charge when he comes if you called through Sears for the repair, if you call the contract appliance repair company directly their rate (apparently $110 in this case) would be charged.


They accept much lower rates from warranty companies because of the volume of work it brings in, and the fact that a lot of customers just call them directly the next time (especially if out of warranty) rather than go through the hassle of going through the original retailer.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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