Nicole Wildes' new Kenmore appliances are a nightmare. Can she get them fixed without running up a big bill?
Question: Last spring, I bought a Kenmore refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher and garage door operating system from Sears. The first refrigerator broke after four months, and the second was not only defective but also installed improperly, resulting in a pin-size water leak that destroyed our new kitchen floor.
The dishwasher was also installed improperly and almost caused a fire. This is all documented by our electrician, who we had to pay for to repair the installer's mistake.
Related: How to resolve any consumer complaint.
The exterior of the stove reached a temperature of 160 degrees, according to an infrared thermometer, and I have two burns from where my arm brushed along the outside. The garage door was also not installed properly and sounds like a dying animal every time I open it. I've invested more time and energy in trying to get this situation rectified than I care to admit.
After hours and hours spent talking to Sears, their solution was to allow me to exchange the Kenmore appliances for Samsung appliances. But because Sears did not have the comparable Samsung refrigerator, I had to pay an additional $700 for an upgraded model.
So after months of aggravation, lost family time, physical scars, destroyed flooring, money, and energy, I was out an additional $700 but supposed to feel grateful that Sears was willing to exchange my broken and defective appliances.
Today, three of the four Samsung appliances were finally delivered. Why three? Because instead of a Samsung microwave, the men brought a Kenmore. The refrigerator was not plugged in because the delivery man said 'we don't do that.' They also did not connect the water line (which the first two delivery crews did connect), nor did they level the refrigerator. There was a checklist taped to the fridge that said hookup and leveling are part of the installer's responsibilities. Also the stove was supposed to be secured with an anti-tip device.
As a busy working mom with two little girls, I can't tell you what a nightmare this has been. No water or ice from the fridge, hand-washing dishes, yelling to keep everyone far away from the stove in a galley kitchen. While I recognize (and I'm even grateful for) these are first-world problems, this never should have happened.
I respect customer care for following their protocol, but extenuating circumstances should offer some allowances. Shopping at Sears cost me more money than it would have if I had gone somewhere else. I'm so disappointed with my experience and the lack of competency and accountability.
I would like to have some sort of compensation for the time and energy spent trying to get this issue resolved. I want my microwave delivered and installed, the anti-tip device installed on the stove, and the fridge leveled with the water supply hose hooked up. I would like Sears to refund the cost of the electrician and pay to get my flooring repaired. -- Nicole Wildes, Downingtown, Pa.
Answer: Wow, what a total appliance nightmare. Sears should have sold you a working refrigerator, stove, microwave, dishwasher and garage door. It should have installed these appliances correctly and then stood behind them when they began to fail.
Clearly, that didn't happen.
Your experience represents a failure on so many levels, it's hard to deconstruct. Sears and Kenmore are frequent offenders in this column, and there are ample warnings online about the reliability of the appliances you purchased.
But I can't really blame you for buying your appliances through Sears, or making the choice you did. After all, the company promises it sells only "top-notch appliances to help keep your household running smoothly."
When things started to break down, you tried to put out the fires (some literally) one at a time. But at some point, when you realized that every one of these appliances was cursed, you needed to send a comprehensive complaint to someone higher up at Sears. I list the names, email addresses and phone numbers of Sears' executives on my advocacy site.
You could have invoked the warranty on your appliances. But unless you purchase one of Kenmore's extended service agreements, the company probably couldn't have -- or wouldn't have -- done much more than it already did.
I contacted Sears on your behalf. You also continued to negotiate with Sears for a better resolution. Eventually, Sears replaced the microwave and fixed the garage, but it declined to repair your floor. You also were stuck with the $700 bill for your refrigerator upgrade.
After this sort-of resolution, I contacted Sears again to make sure that was the final answer. It wasn't. Sears refunded your card an additional $200.