Update by user Aug 22, 2011
UPDATE: I submitted the text of this post to Sears Customer Relations as well as the CEO of Sears. Within two weeks we received a phone call, and, to keep it short, Sears is replacing our stove. Definitely a step in the right direction.
Original review posted by user Jul 10, 2011
The problem here is simple: we purchased a free standing electric range from Sears that carries a 1 year warranty. We contacted Sears within the warranty period with a problem, they have tried and failed to fix it and now are saying "there's nothing we can do." Meanwhile we have a defective product and a warranty that isn't being honored.
On March 21, 2010, we purchase a Kenmore Elite free standing range from Sears, to be delivered on April 2, 2010. This was an expensive purchase ($1599) but the product appealed to us because the range features dual ovens. We felt that having a small oven that would heat up quickly without heating up the house would offer a better value proposition vs. the traditional broiler that we've had in the past and never used. And it would come in handy around the holidays when we're preparing large dinners and need both the small and large ovens.
In early January, 2011, we contacted Sears for the first time with a problem that continues to this day: the upper oven (small one) burns EVERYTHING. As the range comes with a 1 year limited warranty we were well within the warranty period when we contacted Sears.
On January 26, 2011, a sears technician came to our house to investigate and attempt to address the problem. The "fix" the technician applied was the following: according to the paperwork he lowered the oven temperature. He also told my wife that she needed to switch out here baking ware; "no dark bake ware".
We continued to cook (and burn) food in the upper oven. In March we again contacted Sears with the same problem and they again sent out a technician. On March 23, 2011, a technician showed up and AGAIN lowered the oven temperature. We were also instructed to "wait 15 minutes after the oven reaches operating temperature before putting food in the oven."
Let that statement sink in for a moment. "Wait 15 minutes before putting food in the oven." The POINT of having a small, quick-heating oven is to a) start cooking sooner in an oven that b) heats up faster and c) therefore uses a little less energy. Waiting 15 ADDITIONAL minutes AFTER the oven reaches the desired temperature is unquestionably absurd. Imagine buying a new, expensive automobile, having trouble with it, and being told to "let it warm up 15 minutes prior to driving." We tried it anyway; our food burns just the same, it just takes 15 minutes longer to discover.
This saga with Sears includes, to the best of our recollection, at least 8 (EIGHT) technician visits, 5 of which we have documented with paperwork. They don't always leave paperwork; in some cases the technician simply said, "I don't know what to do" and left. Eight visits would be bad enough, but according to our appointment book there are at least 7 occurrences where a Sears's technician made an appointment and didn't bother to show up. Keep in mind that whenever they make an appointment it's always "between 1 and 5". This means that between appointments kept and missed, Sears has cost us a 40 hour work week.
At least one of our receipts has a technician comment, "seems to work." I find this interesting because our experience with the technicians tells us that they NEVER, EVER actually test their repairs before leaving the site. After attempted fixes ranging from parts replacements to temperature adjustments she offered to heat up something and actually test the repair; these guys couldn't get out of the house fast enough. They absolutely did NOT want to be around when those fries came out of the oven.
A separate incident confirms this behavior. At about the same time we purchased a Kenmore Elite refrigerator and we had a problem with it as well. The technician installed a new door and left; it was only after I came home and tried to get ice and water out of the new door that we discovered that a) the door didn't work and b) they had ORDERED AND INSTALLED THE WRONG DOOR. You can't make this stuff up – truth is stranger than fiction.
This is important because in our conversations with Consumer Solutions we discovered that every technician that left our house said the product "works". It was only after one technician in particular made his third visit that I understood the dichotomy at work here. This technician said, "I don't understand why they keep sending us here, every time we can't fix something we get graded down." Therefore they state the product "works" (which is not the same as "I fixed it") so they don't get graded down. Sears never sees the product as un-repairable because they've put in place a system that punishes the messenger who speaks the truth.
No less than three technicians have been advised by STAC (I don't know what STAC is, but the technicians take their marching orders from them over the phone and STAC seems to call all the shots) to measure the oven temperature. The first time the temperature was checked the oven was found to have wildly fluctuating temperatures throughout instead of a consistent temperature, which explains how food can be burnt badly in spots and be literally cold in others. Parts were ordered and installed to no avail; we kept burning food.
On 5/13 another technician showed after consecutive missed appointments on both 5/4 and 5/6. He was having difficulty getting through to STAC as he didn't know how to proceed and was about to walk off the site, stating "I don't have time for this" when my wife stopped him and insisted he retry. Can you blame her? Each time they schedule an appointment she's out another 4 hours; he'd been here 15 minutes and was ready to walk away without doing anything. Sears no longer has any understanding of the concept of "Customer Service".
This technician was told to measure the oven temperature, which we know had been done previously. His equipment didn't work, meaning we had to schedule another appointment to get a technician with a working thermometer. He did leave with some terrific advice: "just use the bottom one." IF I HAD WANTED A SINGLE OVEN RANGE I WOULD HAVE PURCHASED A SINGLE OVEN RANGE. Again, if your brand new car had a driver side door that didn't open would you be happy with "just slide over to the other door" advice?
On 5/24 a technician with a working thermometer showed up, took measurements, and determined that the oven still had wildly fluctuating temperatures. He left our home and saying he would contact STAC and get back to us. When he called back it was to inform us that there's "nothing they can do" as the product is no longer covered by the manufacturer's warranty. We explained that this is the same problem that we've been trying to get addressed since JANUARY. "I'm just a technician" was his reply.
We called Customer Solutions, with whom we had spoken to frequently during this saga, and they in turn said they would email the STAC manager and him call us; we received no phone calls. 3 days later we again called Customer Solutions, who again contacted STAC. At this time we were told that everyone was aware of our flaky oven, there's nothing they can do, and we should let the oven warm up longer, and that if this wasn't satisfactory we should write a letter to Sears Consumer Relations.
Monetary Loss: $1600.