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Sears/Kenmore rant
Old 03-26-2013, 10:59 AM   #1
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Sears/Kenmore rant

Warning: long post

We bought all new appliances for our kitchen when we remodeled in 2011 and since we wanted everything to match we bought Kenmore refrigerator (made by LG), dishwasher (made by Bosch), stove and microhood.

In February, the fridge wasn’t working. I researched it and knew the one-year warranty had expired and called Sears for service. They offered me a one-year “Smart” Protection agreement for $275 that would cover any repairs up to $500 for one year and being suspicious that the fridge repairs could be costly I took it.

The tech comes and diagnoses the fridge problem as a bad compressor and the total parts and labor are $628 so my cost is $128. About a week later he comes and makes the repairs – fine.

When the tech was here for the compressor I mentioned that the ice maker wasn’t working and he said that he needed to get the fridge working in order to assess that problem, which makes sense.

Last week I called about the ice maker and they shipped me a new icemaker and scheduled a service call for this morning. The same tech shows up promptly at 8am and determines that the icemaker isn’t the issue but rather there is a bad board and the heater that keeps the water going to the icemaker from freezing has gone bad and the heater is not a repairable part so I need a new left side door and board – repair cost $707 so my cost is $207 after the $500 repair allowance.

In the process of doing this I ask him what the part costs are and they are $520. I look up the identical parts on Sears parts direct and the cost delivered to my home are $400 – so $120 of the $207 I paid today relate to what they charged me for parts in excess of what I could order them for directly from Sears. I call and ask why and nobody can offer me a credible explanation other than it is a convenience fee (which I say is similar to a revenue enhancement fee). I am later told that the tech ordered parts include a 90-day warranty whereas if I ordered them they would include no warranty. It seems odd that a part would have no warranty at all but the difference in cost for a 90 day warranty is a rich premium. In any event to get rid of me they offer me a $100 gift card, which I accept and I’ll eat the extra $20 difference.

Then I go back to the compressor repair bill and determine that for that $128 repair that $87 was due the excess cost of the parts over what I could have ordered from Sears parts direct.

So between the two repairs, this scam Sears is running has cost me $207, less the $100 gift card they provided, so $107 net. I guess I shouldn’t complain too much but it is frustrating when the fridge is less than 2 years old needs such costly repairs. I really doubt that I will ever buy Sears/Kenmore again.

End of rant.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:08 AM   #2
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I'm truly sorry to hear about your experience, especially just having ordered a new fridge, range, dishwasher and microwave as part of a remodel.

I've had relatively good luck with all the appliances I've bought so far in life, and some were/are Sears/Kenmore, though I did not buy from them this time. They gouged us on repairs for a vaccuum cleaner a few years ago and took forever doing it, that soured us on Sears.

From everything we've probably all read, 'they just don't make them anything like they used to' WRT appliances along with many other products. That may be the root of the problem.

One of DW's friends bought an LG fridge about a year ago and has had fits with it also right from the start, including costly repairs, even though LG seems to do well in Consumer Reports and other reviews. She's beyond angry with her experience...
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:22 AM   #3
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That's interesting. And they say to not buy any extra warranty offers since they usually don't pay off.

I think many of the newer appliances are not as robust as the ones made 20 years ago. I have Magic Chef dryer, washer, and fridge from that past era. Other than a few normal wear items, they are all working as if new. I do all my own repairs, but the ones I have done have not been much really.

I think the circuit boards in today's appliances are not as good as the more mechanical ones in the older appliances. But, the newer appliances have more working options than the older models. I like the older models and don't need all the options.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:32 AM   #4
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I have an LG refrigerator that is three years old and has worked perfectly . One of my friends bought the Kenmore french door refrigerator at the same time and has had to replace it already . It was constantly breaking down.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:32 AM   #5
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Consumer Reports states LG as a brand is one of the worst for reliability. Personally, I've never liked the LG brand since it's really a new label for the old Goldstar brand name.

RE: Sears Parts Direct, you can find discounts online ($5 or 10% off) to lower the price if you search for them. I had to get a part for my snow blower and was debating if it was worth paying $75 (+15 ship) for a part on a $200 unit. I called their 800 number to inquire on the part availability and was going to hang up when the rep tells me he can offer me $25 off & free shipping. I thought he was joking as he knocked off 1/3 the price just for asking about the part and not buying immediately. Apparently, this is the trend with some stores, you call in to check then decide not to buy and they make you an offer too good to not buy it.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:35 AM   #6
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I think you're right that they don't make them like they used to. This is the first fridge problems that we have had in over 30 years IIRC - no problems ever with 3 other fridges we have owned over the last 30 years. In one case we replaced as part of another kitchen remodel abut 15 years ago (different house). In fact, the oldest fridge we have had (early 70s I think) is still going strong in the basement as a beer fridge/extra freezer.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moemg View Post
I have an LG refrigerator that is three years old and has worked perfectly . One of my friends bought the Kenmore french door refrigerator at the same time and has had to replace it already . It was constantly breaking down.
That worries me - my Kenmore is also a french door. We actually like the fridge's functionality - the problem is unreliability.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:37 AM   #8
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The Kenmore freezer-on-top refrigerator I bought in 2005 has been the best refrigerator I ever had, by a very wide margin.

But then, I never had to deal with parts issues like you are doing, pb4uski, because it has never broken during the eight years I have owned it. Sorry this happened to you!
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:41 AM   #9
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Consumer Reports states LG as a brand is one of the worst for reliability. Personally, I've never liked the LG brand since it's really a new label for the old Goldstar brand name.

RE: Sears Parts Direct, you can find discounts online ($5 or 10% off) to lower the price if you search for them. I had to get a part for my snow blower and was debating if it was worth paying $75 (+15 ship) for a part on a $200 unit. I called their 800 number to inquire on the part availability and was going to hang up when the rep tells me he can offer me $25 off & free shipping. I thought he was joking as he knocked off 1/3 the price just for asking about the part and not buying immediately. Apparently, this is the trend with some stores, you call in to check then decide not to buy and they make you an offer too good to not buy it.
That's interesting. We have LG washer/dryer that are 4-5 years old and never a problem.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:45 AM   #10
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That's interesting. And they say to not buy any extra warranty offers since they usually don't pay off. ...
The odd thing on this is that they offered me the warranty when I called to schedule the repair on a fridge that was out of warranty! If I hadn't accepted that offer I would be $725 poorer (two $500 repair allowances less the $275 I paid for the warranty).
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:50 AM   #11
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That's interesting. We have LG washer/dryer that are 4-5 years old and never a problem.
I was looking at the rating for the LG refrigerators. The LG brand has the best reliability rating for washers in Consumer Reports.
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Old 03-26-2013, 11:53 AM   #12
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I was looking at the rating for the LG refrigerators. The LG brand has the best reliability rating for washers in Consumer Reports.
I see. Thanks!!!
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:00 PM   #13
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That worries me - my Kenmore is also a french door. We actually like the fridge's functionality - the problem is unreliability.
We've had the Kemmore french door frig for about 8 yrs. No problems at all. It is built by Amana which of course, is p/o Whirlpool.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:03 PM   #14
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I noticed on a recent car repair that there was a significant markup on the parts over what I could buy them for retail. I guess it is just a way of shuffling around the profit.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:28 PM   #15
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We had a similar result with Sears. My BIL's stove went out. Sears techs were called, they came out and (after $99 service call) determined it was the control panel board that was fried. $350 to install it ($300 parts, $50 labor). BIL said heck no is he spending $350 to fix a $450 stove. So it sat there for a year or two. That's when I asked him what was wrong, then I pulled the serial number for that unit, googled up the replacement control panel board, and bought it off ebay for $80 refurbished (looked new). Installation was 10 minutes (unscrew 6 screws, unhook connector on busted control panel board, pop in new one and hook up connector, rescrew 6 screws). I recall sears online parts direct was much less than $300 if you order if straight from them instead of paying for it through their installation guys. Maybe because if the fix didn't work, the sears install team would have to come out and fix it for free.
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Old 03-26-2013, 12:39 PM   #16
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I just recalled that I paid for the fridge with my Discover card, which offers to double the manufacturer's warranty, so the repair costs should be covered under that since it is within 2 years (2 x 1 year manufacturer's warranty).

I just called Discover and filed a claim. I suspect it will be a long drawn out process but maybe I'll get something back from it.

Has anyone else ever filed a claim under these extended product warranty programs through a credit card? First time for me but it sounds like if everything is in order then they reimburse me for my repair costs.
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:28 PM   #17
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Thanks for the reminder on the Discover Card... I had forgotten.

Re: Parts... in general... Typically, on car parts, the Repair Shop takes their discount price from their supplier, and doubles it. (Some take the Auto Zone etc price and double that.

Household appliance repair parts carry a similar mark up. The estimate for parts on an Air Conditioner (a relay) was $75 from the repair man. When I went to the A/C parts supplier, I was able to buy the part for $25.

(Now this is a rather weird thing. The parts supplier has a pact with the service repair businesses that it will not sell to the public... The theoretical reason being that the public should not be allowed to deal with the possibility of allowing environmentally harmful gasses into the atmosphere, and that parts should only be sold to certified technicians. {different reasons, different states} .)
In my case, the dealer told me to wait until all of the service guys had left.

A more recent experience (last Saturday @ time and a half for the tech) was with our furnace. The diagnosis was (as with the refrigerator) a bad circuit board. Solution... a new "universal" circuit board $150. The repaiman showed me the board, and pointed out that there were 7 individual transistor microswitches on the board. Further, two came from Mexico, three from Taiwan, and two from china. When I used to do my own repairs, these were all individual non transistor switches, easily diagnosed with a continuity tester, and available for about one or two dollars.

It's where we are with technology. Circuit boards make repair time short and simple. Kind of a trade off, as (in my case) the hourly rate is $90, so my labor cost for about 40 minutes was $135.

All of that said, it would be interesting to take a poll, to see how many repair problems we've had in the past few years, with all of the mechanical things we use... from computers to refrigerators, to automobiles.
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Old 03-26-2013, 01:47 PM   #18
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My experience is that both the quality of Kenmore products and of Sears service has declined so dramatically over the past 10 years that I will try my best to avoid both going forward, although in the past we had excellent experience with both and bought Kenmore whenever possible.

We had expensive out of warranty problems with both our refrigerator and washer at our previous house, and the wait times for service were very long (I think 4 or 5 days in both cases although I don't remember exactly). Lost a lot of food from the broken refrigerator and had to go to a laundromat for the washer.

Most recently, we bought a stackable compact washer/dryer for our family vacation house last summer. We had horrible problems with the delivery and installation (including having people lie to us that it was on a truck somewhere nearby when in fact it was at the local Sears store). It was 3 days late being installed, and then it stopped working after the 1st load. Took weeks to get someone out to fix it.

Bah, humbug Sears.
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Old 03-26-2013, 02:37 PM   #19
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I've had a french door LG for about three years now with no problems whatsoever.... We ended up getting all the bells and whistles on it because it was cheaper that way! lol

I also have an LG washer that's about two years old now. I think LG does a discounted line for Sears IIRC. That would mean using cheaper components, circuit boards, etc. Could be part of the problem?
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Old 03-26-2013, 03:12 PM   #20
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This is another "they don't make 'em like they use to" reply. I have an old Norge frig that is still chugging after 31 years ! I just jinxed myself !
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