Sears Extended Warranties Prompt Consumer Complaints

Sears, which uses high-pressure sales tactics to push extended warranty agreements on its customers, is taking fire on internet message boards from consumers who say <"">Sears extended warranties don’t perform as promised.

Sears offers a variety of extended warranty programs to purchasers of major appliances, power tools, and other products. According to an article on Consumer Affairs written by a former salesperson, employees who fail to sell an adequate number of these Sears extended warranties, also called Maintenance Agreements, can be fired:

“This is why when you go to Sears and other stores, their salespeople will be so pushy and insistent on you buying their MA’s (maintenance agreements). So when the salesperson tells you that you “need the MA” what they really mean is that they need to sell it to you.”

Consumer advocates have long questioned the worth of extended warranties like those offered by Sears. According to Consumer Reports: “One-fifth of major appliance shoppers took the bait, paying an average of $146 for an extended warranty or service contract. But eight out of ten of those consumers said the terms and conditions weren’t made clear by the salesperson.” Consumer Reports’ research also found that most consumers who purchase extended warranties like those offered by Sears never even use them.

When consumers do attempt to exercise their rights under Sears extended warranty agreements, they often meet with frustration. Internet forums are filled with such complaints. Here are just a few:

“We have experienced a nightmare trying to get our dishwasher repaired. We have talked to 41 different individuals from Odessa, to Phoenix, to Austin, trying to get it repaired. After calling on Monday (12th), a technician came by and discovered it needed a part. He ordered it and said it would be in Monday and he would be back on Monday to repair it. The part came in Saturday (17th). Sears called us four times to confirm the appointment…each time giving us a different date that they would be there. The technician didn’t show (found out Monday was his day off.) We were rescheduled for yesterday (19th). Sears called to confirm the appointment for the 26th. My wife told them that was unacceptable and after many transfers, finally got someone in Austin that said they would be out today (20th) between 8 & 10AM. Guess What…NO SHOW. My wife called and found out we had been rescheduled for the 28th.” (Complaints Board, 10, 2009).

“Bought a Sears Chainsaw spring of ’06. Also purchased the extended service agreement (maintenance warranty) as the salesman promised me it would “take care of anything that went wrong”. After the ice storm in Jan of 07 I had several trees damaged and was clearing them with the chainsaw when it quit, and wouldn’t restart. I took the saw to the local sears maintenance center, they shipped it off to the repair facility. I got advisory back to call the repair facility, which I did, they advised it would cost me 115.00 + to fix the chainsaw, (nearly as much as the original cost). It is still covered by the two year extended maintenance agreement until spring ’08. The repair facility claimed “abuse” was not covered. How can one abuse a chainsaw?” (Complaints Board, 2/2007)

“I bought a warranty on the water heater that I bought from sears, a year later it quit, they told me that they couldn’t get a service tech to my house for over two weeks. we couldn’t wait for over two weeks so we had a local tech come in and try to fix it, he couldn’t so he replaced it.

$1800.00 later, I have spent over 3 hours on the phone with sears and just keep getting the runaround that they wont reimburse me to have it fixed. what do we pay for warranties for if this is the way it works. out $1800.00 that we had to pay a local tech to try to fix, the water heater couldn’t be fixed so we had them replace it. 3 hours of lost work time.” (Consumer Affairs, 8/2010).”

What is difficult to ascertain is whether these types of problems constitute a concerted effort on the part of Sears to avoid honoring extended warranty agreements, or just isolated incidents of horrible customer service.

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