I worked for the Sears "technical specialist" phone support department awhile back, and let me tell all of you on here who are skeptical in regards to complaints about appliances and service...these justifiably angry customers are not making things up. Sears is broken. I saw it from the inside over the course of many months working there until I got completely fed up with the bureaucratic nightmare of too many departments, receiving seven different answers for the same question, and imperious, uncaring management that treated some good, knowledgeable people there like robots.
I helped customers troubleshoot problems with their appliances and lawn/garden equipment over the phone, and being technically minded and having mechanical knowledge, I enjoyed helping customers getting their items back up and running when it was a small issue such as a spark plug not attached properly, a flooded engine, or a clogged lint screen on a dryer. However, when people genuinely needed a repair service call or called in about their warranty or protection agreement (the sales people at the stores often lie or have no idea about what exactly warranties and agreements cover just to make a sales commission) and having to tell them something is not covered due to that- the ugly wart ridden face of this now backwards company was exposed in its full horror.
The company has terrible routing for service calls (especially if you live in states like Texas and Louisiana) and some customers will wait for weeks to get a tech out to their house under warranty and even then they may wait for even more time when the tech has to order parts and return. Often we in the department I worked for had a good idea of what part or parts were needed, but due to draconian policies that end up costing Sears more money and the customer more inconvenience, we were unable to order the parts for the repair and when we put notes in the service call for the tech, they cant even procure some of these most likely needed items with a couple of weeks of notice to bring out to the service call.
The largest problem is the lack of consistency. Every phone person you get when you call in for service is different and the training their give at the company is woefully different from trainer to trainer. That was rough...listening to colleagues belittle customers who spent over $2,000 of hard earned money on a tractor that doesn't work (they are NOT built as well as they used to be by the way) with a condescending tone and telling them they are basically ***...but then they'll offer a "free consultation on home improvement projects" to the customer calling in. Its rather poor customer service to offer (*cough* excuse me.. pitch a sale) on a project that would cost thousands of dollars (beware of Sears Home Improvements) to a customer calling in because of a defective or broken product that has damaged their confidence in the company. Oh, some of those phone reps are good at it though, they'll pour honey in the caller's ear to accept the free consultation, especially because for everyone we'd transfer over to schedule a consult, we (the phone reps) would receive a $10 commission. We also got paid commission to avoid setting up service calls, which is good business sense if a call is not warranted, such as a clogged filter or a disconnected battery lead, all things we can walk a customer through how to fix on the phone. Again, though, reps often run too far with this idea and tell people random things to try so they can avoid service, rather than spending the time (good customer service) to walk a customer through the fix and make sure it worked.
The company doesn't care much if a customer has to *** a day of work to wait around for a vague "8-5 pm" appointment and cares even less when the tech says they came by and said "no one was home" even though the customer is sitting inside waiting for someone you know... to knock on the door or use the phone to make a call that they have arrived. I feel bad for the really excellent techs that work for them, but again, techs are as inconsistent as any other department, there a few great ones and a whole lot of mediocre or bad ones. Good luck when you talk to the Delivery department too, one of the most broken and ridiculous of the Sears sub-departments. They are mostly overseas and talk on scripts, even to us when we called them for a customer! Most of the delivery people who bring out your merchandise have no idea on how your items work and they are not known for their subtle handling of appliances (so if you get a Sears Delivery team showing up at your house, watch them like a hawk, that is if they even show up on the date promised.) Perhaps the worst department of all is the Carry In service at the stores or repair centers. If you take in your warrantied push mower, often the people working will try to claim that you used "bad gas" or something like that and try to charge you for the repair, even though the unit has a manufacturer caused defective carburetor. They take weeks and weeks to repair these items, are terrible about informing customers about the status of their repairs, and yes, they even lose a lot of machines somehow. So, be extremely mindful of this when dropping off an item for warranty repair. Don't lose the receipt they give you under any circumstances.
So, overall, be very, very careful if you choose to do business with Sears. I do not advise it, having seen how completely inefficient and ultimately doomed this company is from the inside. If you buy a Repair Protection Agreement, regular wear and tear maintenance is NOT COVERED, so don't let them lie to you at the store and tell you it is. Only Master Protection Agreements receive one free yearly preventative maintenance check, and if you're buying anything with a combustion engine, Sears does not put MPAs on those items, only the aforementioned Repair Protection Agreement will be sold on powered lawn equipment. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE if you go with just the standard manufacturer warranty that comes with your intended purchase, read it before you buy the item, especially if it is a Crafstman tractor. They only cover a lot of things for 30 to 90 day periods and after that they are very stingy on covering justifiable mechanical issues, so do your homework, because the sales people in the stores (minus the good ones) just want their commission and they are terrible at educating customers about warranties and protection agreements.
I gave Sears the benefit of the doubt when I first started working for them, but now that I've had my eyes opened, I realize this company is no longer innovative and lives in a world that no longer exists. They continually lose tons of money, don't invest in technology for the business, and essentially are amputating one body part of the company at a time to keep the lights on until the CEO can make his pile of cash out of the real estate property on the books. The guy holds meetings over remote connections from his house in Florida and you never see him touring facilities, he's just a hedge fund billionaire with a gigantic ego that somehow empowers him to be a genius at retailing. Just go into your local Sears store, do you really see genius at work? Nope, just the slowest liquidation sale in the history of America.
Product or Service Mentioned: Sears Repair.
Reason of review: Poor customer service.