Why You Should Choose a Local Appliance Store

Customer Service FailureThere comes a time in all of our lives that we have to make large purchases.  Let’s face it, that is just how our lives work right now.  Our modern lives demand dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers.  When we find ourselves looking to buy a new appliance, we shop around.  We read the reviews, we analyze the reports, and we watch the sales.  Here is my story about why you shouldn’t go with the lowest price, but shop based on the type of service that you will receive after the purchase is made.

The Story

Shortly after I was married, my wife wanted a new washer and dryer set.  We were using one that I picked up free when an acquaintance upgraded, so I figured it was time to have something nice.  After a few weeks of research we settled on a nice Kenmore Elite set from Sears.  Not only would we be saving money on this high efficiency set, but we would not need to buy another set for many years.  Or so we thought.

4.5 years into the life of our brand new washer and dryer set, the washer got a mysterious error and simply quit functioning.  I Googled the problem and went to talk to someone at Sears about the issue.  Unfortunately my local store was of no help, but they directed me to the Sears Parts website.  I discovered the part alone was over $200.  This did not set well with me, so I took to Twitter and Facebook.

After a quick complaint about the lack of service, the company was actually quick to get back to me.  I sent them my contact information and within 24 hours I had a customer service rep on the phone.  I explained the problem and they agreed to send a service tech, and they would reimburse me the $80 cost.  I made the appointment and the tech came out a couple days later.

The Service Call

With the tech at my house, I explained the problem and the error code I had received.  He then opened up his computer and Googled the problem coming to the same conclusion I did: the central control unit had gone out.  Their cost to fix the problem (which would have taken about 30 minutes of actual work) $450.  I declined the service.

I called the customer service rep back and explained the dilemma.  She offered to take $100 off the part and I could do the work myself.  A few days later the part came in the mail.  I anxiously disconnected the old “broken” part and installed the new one.  I plugged the washing machine back in and it did the exact same thing as before.  The technician’s diagnosis was incorrect.  That is when the “fun” began.

I called the customer service rep and got her voicemail, which stated to leave a message and I would hear back within 24 hours.  I left a message and waited.  A couple days later I called again and nothing.  I sent an email and didn’t hear back.  I called again after a few days and still heard nothing.  Once again I resorted to social media posting about my dilemma.  I kept receiving the same response, “I’m sorry about your continued frustration, we will forward your comments to your case manager.”  I soon learned what they meant was, “We will promptly disregard your comment.

Customer Service Fail

After multiple emails and messages I finally heard back via email from my case manager.  She told me that due to the fact that I declined the service they would not reimburse me for another technician call, but they could get the price down to $40.  I responded explaining that since the technician did not do the job correctly the first time he should come back and do it properly.  I never heard back.

About a month later, and several posts to the Sears Facebook page, I gave them an ultimatum.  I explained the situation once again.  I asked them kindly to return my phone calls, and if nothing was to come of it I would write this article (not only this, but as many as I can find websites to host a similar one).  Since you are reading this, you can safely assume I never got a response.  Sears chose that it was more important to them to ignore their customer, and let the whole world know that they have terrible customer service, than to be cordial about the situation.

Now this article is not just to rant about how hard it is to deal with Sears’ customer service.  Now that is one of the points, but the point is that this corporation has grown too large for its own good.  They have stores across the country, employ thousands of people, and have been in business longer than most companies around.  Yet I don’t see them lasting much longer.  Their customer service has slipped as far as the quality of their products, and it shows.  The alternative is becoming much more appealing.

Instead of giving money to Sears, find a local store that sells appliances.  By utilizing someone that actually values your business you will get the service you deserve.  In fact, when this fiasco with Sears started, I was told a story from one of my friends.  Their parents had the same situation with Sears, and their next purchase they bought local.  That new appliance ran into issues and rather than get the run-around, they simply went to the store.  The employees then got in touch with the manufacturer and demanded them to fix the problem.  Within days they had a new appliance in their home.  The ease, the lack of frustration and the comfort is well worth spending an extra $50

Have you had similar issues with a large corporation?  How did you resolve them?

Author Bio: Scott Sery is a contributing writer at OneSmartDollar.com. When he’s not writing, he can be found fishing, hunting, backpacking, caving, and rock or ice climbing.  To learn more about Scott check out his website at ScottSery.com

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  1. I actually used to deliver appliances for a local store in my hometown, but I don’t buy from them due the prices being slightly higher. After reading this I’ll definitely be giving them more than a passing glance next time I’m in need of something though! Dealing with large companies when it comes to in-home service is no picnic, as you’ve explained!

  2. Well I’ve now heard stories like this about Sears and Home Depot. I got my appliances for our basement rental from Menards and haven’t had a problem yet (hopefully I never do or I might end up adding them to the list!). I think it’s ridiculous when companies purposefully ignore complains about their service. There is a local appliance company here in the Twin Cities that I will have to check out next time I need appliances.

  3. I think this problem could just be an appliance in general issue too. My parents bought a washer and dryer from a local appliance store a few years ago and have had several issues with the set. The appliance store’s response has pretty much been : Call the manufacturer. It’s been really frustrating for them. Maybe they just picked a bad local retailer too. Sometimes these purchases can be a big headache.

    1. You’re right, it is often the fact that with a large purchase we expect the product to last. Sometimes they don’t. While local shops are not ALWAYS more helpful, they generally are since it is their way of winning people away from big box stores.

  4. Oh, I hate when this happens! They wonder why they’re having issues and I believe a lot of it goes back to situations like this, where they care more about their profits or ignore the needs of the customer. Ultimately it just comes off as being rude and simply ignoring the customer. We’ve run in to a few situations like this ourselves and can usually get it resolved, but not all the time – that said I’d totally rather deal with someone local I can deal with as opposed to some massive chain.

  5. I am pretty convinced that all appliances are made to fail after only a few years. We had to replace our washer a few years ago and it was only 3-4 years old at the time.

    1. Unfortunately it seems that this is the trend. We recently bought a new set from LG. That brand is highly rated, so we will see in the next few years how things go.

  6. The older I get the more I have come to value good customer service policies. I will NEVER shop at IKEA again, dealing with their customer service literally took days of my life. Amazon is still number one in my book and I recommend it to EVERYONE.

  7. Raquel@Practical Cents says:

    We just went through this with our water heater from GE. We had some bumps in the road with them but they came through in the end and replaced the unit. Thankgoodness it was still under full warranty!

  8. We just purchased a new furnace and hot water heater 2 weeks ago from a local store. We had considered buying one online (it was quite a bit cheaper), but preferred the “protection” of having a local store to return the units to if (god forbid) anything was wrong with them. So far we’re happy with our decision.

  9. Jack @ Enwealthen says:

    Let’s just say I’m never buying Maytag, or any of the affiliated brands, again.

    Specific to Sears, they’re in a rough spot. It’s a shame that such a long lived and previously respected business is falling apart so quickly and so thoroughly. I had to visit my local Sears the other day for a tool only they carried. The store was half the size, incredibly shoddy, and only had a single cashier. It looked like a shady 5 & dime rather than an historic, globally known company. So much for the lifetime warranty on all my Craftsman tools!

  10. For us, Sears worked really well for appliances. WE did have one appliance that broke down shortly after we bought it (within 2 years) and Sears got it repaired really quickly.

    1. Glad that they pulled through for you. Unfortunately the positive stories seem to be getting rarer.

  11. I am willing to put up with any amount of poor service at Sears, Home Depot or Lowes if it means saving some money. If the local appliance stores are cheaper than the big boys, I will purchase the appliance from them. I will always go where it is cheapest.

    1. But what about my example above? The poor service cost me several hundred dollars because they refused to back up their product. Had I spent a fraction of that up front, I could have received service that saved me money and a few hours of frustration down the line.

    2. … and you will always get exactly what you pay for.

      The reason that washer or any major appliance is cheaper at a bigbox, is because it IS a cheaper.

      The sku# will be slightly different although the model looks exactly the same on the outside. The big box, in order to be able to sell the machine so much cheaper, have certain parts removed and re-manufactured cheaper in China or someplace. That’s why whatever major appliance you bought so much cheaper at a big box will break down so much faster than the real-deal sold at the small local appliance store. And that’s also why it can’t be repaired easily.

      The gentlemen that wrote this article wound up in the situation he was in because of this. I would be willing to bet a kidney that the problem with his machine is that cheap part(s) Sears used in place of the better quality but more costly part.

      By the way, if you don’t already know, “Kenmore” is not a manufacturer. It’s merely a Sears nameplate. “Kenmore” machines are actually manufactured by GE, Bosch, Whirlpool, Roper, Sanyo and more.

      So when this gentlemen began on the path of diagnosing the problem, calling Sears, meeting a Tech, etc., he received differing information. Some of it pertaining to the machine the way it had been designed, and some of it pertaining to the cheaper crappier way Sears had the machine manufactured, with it’s cheap substitute parts and the havoc they caused the machine.

      Plus, this whole situation meets their ends. You can’t get the cheap parts repaired. You’ll hand them money on their repair service. And inevitably you have to buy a new machine. For them it’s win-win when you are cheap enough to buy the cheap machine, and you keep having to buy them.

      The reason bigbox stores get away with this, is exactly the comment above: people that don’t want to know anything except for what’s cheaper right now despite how much more it will cost them in time.

      According to industry research, Sears will sell this type of person above 3.5 cheap washers in 20 years. Whereas, a local appliance store will sell someone like me only 1.3 washers in 20 years.

      On average, over his adult life the commenter will pay 4 – 6 times the amount for washing machines than I will I pay over my lifetime, while proudly saying he got the cheaper machine, telling his friends, sending more business their way.

      And that’s exactly what Sears, and Home Depot, and the rest of the big box stores wanted.

      1. Great and very in-depth comment Brian. I appreciate you taking the time to write all of this down. I agree with you on all of it. We play right into the big stores hands when we always look for cheaper products.

  12. Appliance Repair says:

    I agree that the extra services that are provided by local services are indeed worth the extra $50 you get to work with pleasant people that care about your problem and will help you out instead of just giving you a headache.

  13. 12-09-2016
    Your experience with Sears resonates with me. I am currently going through a situation with a refrigerator which has dragged on for over 7 weeks. A non-working Kenmore Elite (LG made) refrigerator for over 7 weeks. Providing details about our ongoing saga would result in TMI, so I’ll spare you the details.
    I would like to see Sears turn their poor customer service into the quality of service that helped them build their “old” reputation.
    Here’s the irony with your article posting: As I’m reading it the entire left side of the web page is flashing Sears ads. Ugh!
    When it comes to Sears here is my advice; BUYER BEWARE…………

    1. Sorry to hear that Todd. Sears is slowly becoming a useless brand and they know it. Their stores have struggled for years and it shows.

      Yeah, I don’t get to control the ads. They are targeting words in the article and if they have a match with Sears, they will show it. Funny though.