I purchased a Kenmore water heater back in spring of 2011. A few days ago, there was no more hot water. Following the status light troubleshooting chart from the use & care guide, and after someone (non-Sears certified technician) came and looked at the heater, it was determined that the gas control valve/thermostat needed to be replaced.
I called Sears at 1-800-4-MY-HOME number provided in the warranty to request a replace valve/thermostat. I was told for the replacement part to be covered under the nine year limited warranty, a Sears certified technician would need to come out and diagnosis the problem before ordering the part. I would be responsible for the technician labor fee. Otherwise, if I wanted just the part and no labor, I would have to buy the part for $172.49 plus tax. The cost of the Sears technician to come out and inspect the heater would be at around $230-$240.
I asked if it was possible to be reimbursed or have the technician fee waived if after the visit, the technician determines there is a defective part that needs to be replaced. Or, if I could have third party technician submit some kind of documentation showing that the gas valve was defective. I was told no and the ONLY WAY for the replacement part to be covered under warranty is if a SEARS CERTIFIED technician came out.
The heater came with a 9 year limited product warranty. The product warranty says:
"For nine years from the date of purchase, if this water heater is installed and operated in a single-family home in accordance with the owner's manual instructions and all local applicable plumbing codes, Sears will:
1. Supply free water heater parts for those that are defective in material or workmanship.
2. Supply a free water heater for one that develops a tank leak. See notes below also.
For the second through ninth year from the purchase date, you must pay the labor cost for installation of parts or water heater."
Nowhere in the warranty are there ANY mention that a Sears certified technician is required for a replacement part. And after searching around online, I came across a blog that referenced part of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act that states:
"(b) Under a limited warranty that provides only for replacement of defective parts and no portion of labor charges, section 102(c) prohibits a condition that the consumer use only service (labor) identified by the warrantor to install the replacement parts. A warrantor or his designated representative may not provide parts under the warranty in a manner which impedes or precludes the choice by the consumer of the person or business to perform necessary labor to install such parts."
It would seem that the warrantor (Sears) CANNOT require me to use their certified technician but after an hour plus on the phone with various department that was the only response I got. No Sears technician = no parts under warranty.
Never again will I purchase anything from any of the Sears brands.
Monetary Loss: $172.