Action News Troubleshooters: Problems with warranties and repairs

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- When you make a major purchase like an appliance, its warranty should give you peace of mind. The promise is if certain things break, they will get fixed. But according to dozens of customers who've complained to the Troubleshooters, one of the biggest names in the country is not living up to that promise.

The Troubleshooters have received nearly three dozen complaints about Sears, many consumers are complaining about the retailer's warranty and repair service. We looked into four such issues, including Darrah Wilson's problem, who said her refrigerator stopped working on September 3.

"It just died on me," she said.

Wilson had been paying $50 a month for a warranty she bought through Sears, so she contacted the company.

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"The warranty agreement was if they can't fix it, they'll replace it," she said.

But she said first she couldn't get an appointment for a repair technician for three weeks. Then after the initial visit, the technicians kept canceling.

"I must have called about 50 times," she said.
Finally, when she was told a technician couldn't come out until November 25.

"I went out and bought another refrigerator because I couldn't wait no longer because I had already been waiting since September 3," she said.

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The Troubleshooters have heard from other unhappy customers, many of whom wonder why pay for a warranty that doesn't deliver when you need it.

"I just think the customer service was really poor on their part," said Alesia Shute.

"It's a two to three to four to five hour wait time before someone answers," said Michael Pritt. "I actually videotaped it. One time I called on speakerphone and it said my approximate hold time was 186,545 minutes, which no one would believe, which is why I recorded it on my phone."

"I've been disconnected. I had to call back and wait for hours. It's unbelievable. It is the worst customer service I've ever experienced," said Crystal Childs.

Sears outsources many of its warranties to third parties, including Darrah Wilson's warranty, and despite being on shaky financial footing after coming out of bankruptcy two years ago, the company said it will continue to honor its warranties and service products no matter what.

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Sears does dispute some of the customers' claims we sent to the company, stating they're looking for repairs that aren't covered by the warranty. But in Wilson's case, Sears did contact the outside warranty company to reimburse her for her new refrigerator.

"I'm excited. I got my check from Sears," Wilson said. "You have been a blessing. And I really, really appreciate it."

Wilson said she has now canceled her Sears warranty.

And be aware. Experts say extended warranties are rarely worth the money and if you are going to buy one, make sure you consider the company's financial situation and reputation.
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