In an age when most companies are treading lightly on the customer service front, realizing today how far one bad experience can travel through the maze of tubes we call the Internet, Sears seems to have decided it’s not worth the effort. Gather ’round boys and girls; I’ve got a story to tell you.
My mother, a retired elementary school librarian (and about the nicest person you’re likely to meet) had a problem. Her old dishwasher finally died and she took a trip to Sears to purchase a new one. They didn’t have the color and model she wanted but told her it could be installed on the first Saturday in June. Four weeks without a dishwasher may seem a lot, but she agreed. She pays with a credit card and, as she is wont to due, pays the entire balance of the purchase off at the first opportunity. This is the second week of May.
Four weeks pass and no dishwasher arrives. Curious, but this foreshadows more trouble to come. It’s been delayed until the 17th. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it wanted to take a two-week vacation before getting to work? Finally the dishwasher arrives…and the it’s so obviously broken the installers don’t even bother to hook it up. The unit is thrown back onto the truck and quickly driven away.
A call to customer service finds that model in that color is unavailable until September (and considering how easily four weeks became six weeks on their last estimation this doesn’t bode well). After mulling over what to do for about a week she orders the same dishwasher in a different, but available, color. Same price, but at least it’s already paid for and there are no additionally fees to pay. Of course there’s no discount given for the trouble the company has had to deliver and install a single dishwasher, but (as you are about to learn) that’s far from the biggest mistake Sears will make. So on June 23rd she places the new order and sets an installation date for July 15th or 16th.
July 15th arrives without word from Sears as to the installation of the unit. She calls customer service again only to discover there’s no documentation for this second sale and no installation has been scheduled. Oops. Having had enough of this ride she politely asks (much more politely than I would have) for the entire order to be cancelled and her money refunded in full.
Let’s stop for a moment to catch-up. It’s been two-and-a-half months since the original purchase. Since the dishwasher has long been paid off her only recourse is to accept a refund as a credit does her no good. But wait! Because she paid with a credit card there will be a 14-day wait (or in this case a two-and-a-half month plus 14-day wait).
The money will be credited back to her credit card, but a full refund in the form of an actual check will not be available for two full weeks. And that’s no the best part! They won’t even start the paperwork now. She has to wait two full weeks and then call back and ask for a full refund. The process will only then begin, the check will be processed and mailed out after another few business days.
If you’re keeping score at home: that’s three full months (or, depending on how long it takes to process and mail the check – more).
Exasperated, and still without a dishwasher, she began a new search. Today I drove her out to Nebraska Furniture Mart. The store had the same dishwasher in stock, in the original color she asked for, and can have it delivered and installed by the end of the week. Given the trouble Sears encountered in this area I can only assume this is a miracle.
The moral of the story? Well, I don’t really have to tell you, now do I?