Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My Favorite Department Store is Headed for Disaster!

Who ever is running Sears these days isn't doing it any favours.

For at least 45 years, every time I needed an appliance, big or small, I bought it from Sears. Even all our outdoor equipment also came from there, as did much of our furnishings.  There were two reasons for that. They used to deliver for free, and they always stood behind what they sold. There was even a guarantee that if a part became unavailable within 10 years for any appliance that broke down within that time, they would replace that appliance for free.

I had one of the early microwaves that used to have a rubber seal around the door.  The seal developed a crack, and while I expected them to repair the door on the microwave by replacing the seal, they replaced the whole door instead.  The following year it became necessary to do that again, and they did. By the time it happened again, they were no longer making microwaves with rubber seals on the door, so they couldn't find us a new door. Then they called back and said they had found one. My hubby asked what they were going to do the next time, and when they realized this was an ongoing problem, they replace the entire microwave, with a new, more modern model. No hassle and no charge. 

The company has stopped delivering for free, and I have stopped ordering things from the catalog. I don't want to pay shipping charges for the privilege of trying something on. It may not fit, so I usually decide to wait until I get to the store.  Of course, if I do get to the malls where the stores are, there is a lot of competition for my money, and I'm likely to buy something someplace else.  They lost a frequent customer for their mail order business when they eliminated the free shipping.

And now, they have closed their service department, so if I need something fixed, where do I go?  Actually, they will eventually have authorized repair people scattered about the country, but if something needs a part right now, things get a little difficult.  If you ask them about the warrantee these days, for a new appliance you may be interested in, you get a lot of hemming and hawing. It would have been good if Sears had managed to establish where and how things would be repaired before eliminating the existing service department.

Recently our lawn mower decided not to start.  Luckily I have a husband who is mechanically inclined, so he took it apart and was able to determine what it needed. Then he set out to find it.  Well, it would have been easy if the repair depots were still in operation, but now you have to go to a Sears store, where the clerks are not repair people.  If you know what part you need, you have to order it, as they don't stock anything in the store.  If you don't know what you need, you are going to be in trouble. 

As it is, hubby was able to order the part he needed.  He was told it would come by mail and that he would get an e-mail with a tracking number so that he could see where it was on route to us.  He never got the e-mail so after a couple of days he tried to phone.  The line was busy all day long.  He eventually got someone who said the part had been shipped and was on it's way to Toronto.  I don't know where it was coming from, but we still had no e-mail to follow it's path.  The week went by and it wasn't here, so hubby phoned again, and was told it was on back order until the end of the month.  How can that be, if it was supposedly shipped earlier in the week?  Of course the number you call these days is just a call centre someplace, and not Sears at all.  The information you get depends entirely on who answers the phone at the other end, and how interested they are in their job.

Our grass could not wait a month to be mowed. We would have a hayfield by then. My clever hubby got online and searched out a cross reference chart to find out what the manufacturer's part number would be. That's right. Sears gives everything their own part numbers just so you will have to go through them to get things fixed.  He found the chart and got the number and bought the needed part from a local repair shop.....not even one that would be listed as a Sears repair depot when the time comes.  The lawnmower was then fixed and the lawn was mowed.

The next trick was to cancel the part ordered though Sears.  Apparently that could not be done over the phone for some reason. So, on Sunday, when we were in the vicinity of the Sears store where the order was placed, hubby tried to get them to cancel the order.  They said they couldn't do that.  They seemed to think it was necessary to hand over the ordered part, even if it took a month to get here, in order to credit the account.   Personally I would not expect the account to be charged until the order was shipped.

Today is Tuesday, and the part has just arrived.  It didn't come by mail after all. It came by UPS, and the packaging is not in very good shape. Just a thought, but why didn't they just send it with other Sears orders to the local pick up spot, instead of shipping it separately?

I don't know if there is a difference in price between what Sears charged, and what it cost us to get the part elsewhere, but gas to get to the city store doesn't come cheap these days and it took two trips so far, with another one lined up to return the part that we were told was back ordered.

It used to be so simple to get something fixed if you bought it from Sears.  Now, apparently it's not. 

Sears, get your act together.  Bring back the service department, and do it fast.  Oh, and I'd still appreciate free delivery too, but I guess that's out of the question.


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