I have never written a negative review of a company online…I never wanted to be one to complain anonymously about a company and have always been extremely adept at allowing negative experiences roll off my back. However, in the case of Sears, I can no longer hold my tongue. I am in the middle of a 5 month nightmare with seemingly no end in sight. I purchased an elliptical in July 2010 online, picked it up at the store, and brought it home. After my husband and I spent half a day putting the item together, we were relieved to be able to turn it on to give it a try. Well, imagine our disappointment when the resistance was impossible to change and seemed to be stuck at the highest setting. Oh, well, I thought…a call to Sears the next day should have us well on our way to fixing the issue.
Fast forward 3 months and innumerable repair visits (all of which I of course had to take time off of work to meet)…no repair and the repairman (who was a very kind person and one of the only bright spots in customer service of this experience) is forced to give up and deemed the elliptical "nonrepairable." Per the repairman, I would have a call within 24 hours to arrange for a pick-up of the old item and to offer my options for an exchange or refund. 24 hours comes and goes, and no call. I have always tried to be understanding and give it a few days more. I receive a call late one night, and after attempting to listen to the jumbled and muted message more than once, reasoned that it must be from Sears. The person on the message never offered a call back number, only a random case number to take into a store. No pick up; no options as promised.
My husband and I rented a truck in order to get the original elliptical home with us, and we did not feel it was our responsibility to return it to the store after such a long ordeal, and as such, I called the online customer care number to discuss my other options. I am not exaggerating when I say I was transferred to no less than 8 different people, all of whom I was forced to tell and retell the situation to, and becoming disconnected during the process.
I finally spoke with an agent in "Customer Solutions," and I was so relieved that I was finally speaking to the correct person!!! However, the only option she would give me is the exchange. I had decided at some point during my "every-other-week" visits from the Sears repairman that if he was unable to rectify the situation, I did not want to risk the whole ordeal occurring again and would just want to return the elliptical for a full refund. I explained this (and the entire situation) to the agent and she insisted that refunds are only available within 30 days. I explained to her that I could have easily returned the inoperable item within 30 days, since it never worked from day 1, but I allowed Sears to try to rectify the problem, which was unsuccessful. I asked to speak with a manager.
The agents at Sears seem to be trained to avoid that…I was informed it would be at least half an hour and I should just have them call me back. Instead, I remained on the line, and was told it would now be half an hour to create a case and then another wait to speak with a supervisor. I advised the agent that I would hold. 40 minutes later, she returned and told me she spoke with a manager on duty and they would refund my credit card. Back on hold I go for them to process the refund. 20 minutes later, the agent comes back to request my credit card number. I found it odd that their system didn't retain it, but went ahead and gave the number to her. She advised they would process the refund and pick up the elliptical in a couple of days. Three and a half months after my original purchase and three and a half hours after dialing Sears, I was confident I would have my refund soon. I could finally relax!
Of course, this was not the happy ending I was expecting. Sears did follow up on their promise to pick up the item…that happened two days later, as promised. However, weeks go by with no refund. I allowed for the standard 1-2 billing cycles and when there was still no refund, I called back on 11/19. After explaining the situation to the agent, he advised it normally takes 21 business days from the date the warehouse receives the returned item. Since the warehouse didn't report the item was returned until 11/4 (not sure where the delay was in there), the magic date would now be 12/6. Well, I can wait a couple more weeks…no problem! I had an end date and hung up fairly content.
I'm sure everyone knows where this is going…my magic date (12/6) comes and goes; no refund. I allow a few more days and call back only to be told they will need to check into the situation and for me to call back (not for them to call me back, but for me to call them back…hmm…the customer service is beginning to lack even more than it had previously).
I allow them a few more days and finally call back on 12/15. The agent I spoke with advised that it takes 10 business days AFTER the promised date for the refund to process. I now realize that I am a sucker and have been given the run-around from Sears this entire time. I could be in a never-ending pattern of calling Sears repeatedly and being advised to allow for 10 more days on and on and on…well, I explained that I was promised the refund on 12/6 and I can no longer understand a delay. She offered to email their "Offline Billing Department" and have them contact me within 24 hours.
Of course, we all know now that 24 hours come and go and no contact from Sears. I call back again. And again; with no luck. My husband, who has wanted to give up and just work with our credit card company to dispute the original charge talks me into it…but I want to give Sears one more chance to do the right thing. I call back again.
I am lucky enough to speak with the most unhelpful agent to date…she can only email the Offline Billing Department again. I advise I already tried that with no luck and no response and ask for another option. No other option, according to her. I ask to speak with a manager. There are no managers there. I tell her I find that difficult to believe, since previously a manager has had to assist with this ongoing catastrophe. She insists there are no managers. (I hate to call anyone a liar, but….). I continue to insist as politely as possible and finally she tells me a manager will only tell me the same thing and places me on hold. After 15 minutes, I get a manager. He does not want to know the situation; he only wants to send an email to the Offline Billing Department. I explain to him that it's already been done and the promised 24 hour window passed 12 days prior and if no one is able to assist me that I will have no choice but to give up on Sears and work with my credit card company. No response other than I will hear from the phantom department in 24 hours.
The moral of the story? Don't purchase anything from Sears (and maybe listen when people tell you to give up on a company). This has been my first large purchase from them. I could have been a new and retained customer, who would go on to try them again (as you can see from my long story, I am an eternal optimist). Instead, I am now angry and dissatisfied and feel as if I have been taken advantage of by them. I have never gone out of my way to discuss my poor experiences with a company before, but being that I gave them ample opportunity to do the right thing and they continued to refuse, I feel that I now have a duty to warn friends, family, and internet strangers from the danger of purchasing anything from them. Ever.
If you were able to make it this far, thanks for your patience. I hope whichever other company you select for your needs treats you better than Sears treated me.
Monetary Loss: $424.