Question

Dissatisfaction with water heater installation runaround

I found this site while searching for a way to write to CEO Edward Lampert, since calling customer service is not an option because that it was my problem is about. It seems that Mr. Lampert is well-shielded from customers, and perhaps even from employees from what I’ve read on the Internet while searching.

In any case, as I will describe, I am extremely unhappy at present with the atrocious service I have received in an attempt to have a new water heater installed, as I will detail below. I have had to initiate calls numerous times, and promised resolutions have not happened. I am now three hours into the vacation day I had to take to be home for the installer to put in my water heater, and I still don’t even know if anybody is going to show up. I think Sears water heaters are excellent products, but I don’t know that I would ever buy one again from Sears based on my service experience.

I discovered that my water heater was leaking on 11/9 and called the number on my instructions booklet since it was still under warranty. At first I was told the soonest a technician could come to look at it was nearly two weeks away – I don’t remember the exact date – but the rep agreed that was ridiculous and worked to schedule somebody for 11/13. This was still a long time, but thankfully the leak was slow so twice-daily cleanups with a wet/dry vac were sufficient to keep the water contained and allow us to still have hot water. This initial phone call took 30 minutes.

I don’t think we ever did get a call telling us about what time the technician would show up on 11/13. Fortunately, my wife was able to be home most of the day, and the technician did finally call at 2:04pm to indicate he was on his way. The technicians determined that the water heater was not repairable and would need to be replaced and told my wife somebody would call us that night or on 11/14 with further information.

Having not received any call, on 11/16 I called the number I had been given on 11/9 that was supposedly a direct line to the water heater department. I still had to navigate through the same menu system, talk to a rep, and then get transferred to the water heater department after a brief hold. The rep I spoke with said the replacement for my water heater was not available until 11/20. Why nobody had called to tell me this, I don’t know. She said I could downgrade to a 6-year-warranty model that was available immediately. I did not think I wanted to do this. I got model#, cost, and availability info from her for several different water heaters – at least this rep was very helpful in providing that info – so I could research the options at sears.com to make a decision. Fortunately, my water heater leak was still slow so I had the luxury of time to make a decision. I decided to stay with the original 9-year-warranty replacement for my water heater and wait until 11/20. I called back on 11/16 – and had to go through the menu system and being transferred again and speaking to yet a different rep – to let them know of my decision and make sure the correct water heater purchase/installation was being processed. I was told I would be contacted by the installer once the water heater was in stock. I also asked the rep what the installation cost would be – since this is not covered under the warranty – and was surprised to learn that it would be $299.99 + $10 haul-away charge, more than an 80% increase from the $169.99 installation charge less than 9 years earlier.

I received a call on 11/19 confirming my installation order, the name of the provider that it was assigned to, a statement that she had called their office to advise they have the order, confirming that the water heater was due in at the Cobleskill store on 11/20 for installation on 11/21, and that she was waiting on the provider to confirm the installation, and that I should be hearing from the provider, a number to call if I don’t hear from the provider, but that I should expect to hear from the provider to confirm the installation and provide a timeframe.

I received a call on 11/20 at 1:58pm from the Cobleskill store that the water heater was received. However, they had no information that it was to picked up by an installer. I then called the number I had been provided on 11/19 to verify my understanding that the installer was picking up the water heater and bringing it to my home on 11/21. This call, thankfully, went right through to the correct department without having to navigate a menu system and transfer. Of course, I was speaking with a new rep, so had to provide my phone number, address, and email address – which I had provided before but never received any of the promised emails regarding status of the order. She confirmed that the installer was to pick up the water heater. While I was on hold, this rep called the contractor, and then she came back and told me they had rejected the order. She put me on hold again while she worked on finding a provider to do the installation. While on hold, 10 minutes into this call, I got disconnected. I called back and got a different rep, for whom I had to provide all of the contact info all over again and wait for her to check the status of the order. I explained that I had been told the provider had rejected the order and the previous rep had been working to find a provider when we got disconnected. After more time on hold, I was told that the original provider would call me that evening to let me know what time between 8am and 8pm on 11/21 they would be at my home to install the water heater. This rep provided me with the direct number to the installer.

I had hoped by this time on 11/20 – mid-afternoon – to know what time the installer would be at my home so I could make arrangements for morning or afternoon vacation time. In the absence of such information, I had to proceed to make arrangements with my manager and the customers I serve to take an entire day of vacation on 11/21.

Still not having heard from anybody, I called the provider directly at 8:50 this morning. He said he didn’t think he had the job. He asked me to give him 25 minutes to check his computer. He called back in about 5 minutes to tell me he did not have the job; his company had rejected it because of disagreement over negotiated rates.

I then called the 800# I had been given on 11/19, provided all of my info again – including email address which seemed pointless at this stage – and and explained my anger and frustration with the poor handling of this installation and that I had taken a vacation day, and wasn’t happy I still had to pay $309.99 after all this trouble. I was on hold several times while the rep tried to work things out. I was on hold while she discussed with her manager compensation for my troubles when I got disconnected 21 minutes into the call.

I called again, got a different rep even though I nearly pleaded to be reconnected to the same rep I had been speaking with, spent time on hold again while she worked things out, and was told things had been worked out with the original provider so he would do the job today. She offered her apologies and a $50 gift card for my trouble. This seemed insulting to me, plus I rarely shop at Sears for other than appliances since the store is about 40 minutes away, and after this experience I am even less inclined to make any further purchases from Sears. She offered that I could speak with a manager, which I said I would like to do, and she said the manager would call me.

The hassle I have gone through, and the number of times I have had to initiate calls is ridiculous! Given that the first piece of information collected each time I call is my phone number, why does nobody every call me back when we get disconnected? They certainly have my phone number!

My last call to the rep this morning ended at 9:50am. It’s now 11:50am, and I’ve not heard from anybody, so I guess with half of my vacation day blown on dealing with this water heater installation without any actual results I will start initiating phone calls AGAIN! At this point, Sears should be offering at least free installation of my water heater, if not more to compensate for the vacation time I’ve had to waste.

Answers

22 answers

  1. Just wanted to make my final post for anyone else that may want to read through this. You can be the judge of whether or not Sears did a good job of handling this.

    I did receive a $50 check from Sears in early December.

    I paid the $309.99 installation charge on my credit card.

    I was not charged any extra for the 12-year water heater.

    I had no further communication from Sears after 12/5/13.

  2. Received a voicemail today from Danielle, the case manager at Sears HC. She indicated she had not been kept informed of status (so she didn't even know that installation happened yesterday). Seems like communication problems in Sears exist everywhere! She said she had sent me an email, but I have never received any email from her. I just called her back and left a voicemail for her to bring her up to speed on status and verbally left my email address again. I told her I would have gladly kept her informed of status via email and provided the link to this forum thread if I had been able to send her email.

    Also got a followup call from Rachel, the installation services case manager who had called on 12/3, so she kept her commitment that she would follow up with a call Wednesday or Thursday. She spoke with my wife. My understanding is that I will be getting a refund of a small portion ($50) of the installation charges. That's better than a gift card that I would probably never use, but less than I had hoped for considering that I blew an entire vacation day (and I do make more than minimum wage) + have spent many unnecessary hours dealing with this installation.

  3. The installer carried through on the commitments he made - calling in advance when he was leaving the Sears store where he picked up the water heater and arriving at my home at the time he had estimated when we spoke 12/2. The water heater was installed without incident, and my wife said she was impressed with the installers. When I got home, I was surprised to see that the water heater that was installed is NOT the 9-year-warranty model that I was assured in my call on 11/16 was the one being processed on the order. Sears didn't even get that right. I'd be through-the-roof mad if it was the 6-year-warranty model, but it's the 12-year-warranty model, so at least it's a better replacement. Still, seems yet another example of communication problems in Sears - perhaps their system of having people speak with a different rep every time they call contributes to the communication problems.

    I've cancelled the dispute I opened with my credit card company regarding the installation charges.

    Now I'll see if Sears does anything further or just considers this "taken care of."

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Thanks so much for providing us with this update, hope4happy! I am glad to hear that your water heater was installed without incident.

    2. In response to hope4happy

      Hi hope4happy,

      Thank you for coming back to provide the update about your water heater delivery and installation; we are very happy to know your family is pleased with the product and services. We will pass your post along to your case manager for final follow up contact to address any further questions or concerns you may have. Thank you for choosing Sears; we appreciate your business.

      Thank you,

      Brian R.
      Social Media Moderator
      Sears Social Media Support

  4. Got a call today from a Sears installation services case manager, confirming the installation appointment for tomorrow. She said it is normal for Sears to bill installation charges before work is done. That doesn't seem like typical business practice to me, but perhaps work normally gets done very shortly after it is billed so the credit card statement cycle hasn't closed before work is done. She said she would call back tomorrow or Thursday to follow up after the installation was done. If work is done tomorrow, I will ask my credit card company to drop the dispute.

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Keep us posted, hope4happy! I am hopeful your installation goes smoothly and you will be satisfied.

  5. Haven't heard from anybody at Sears, but I did get a call this morning from the same installer I was told way back on 11/19 would be coming on 11/21. This time, I think he really has the job. Job is scheduled for Wednesday morning - fortunately, my wife has a flexible schedule that day so can be home in the morning. I did check with my local plumber over the weekend. He would do the job for about half what Sears charges. Maybe Sears has to charge double to fund its inefficiency. I don't know yet what Sears is going to try to charge me when this is all finally done.

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Thanks for letting us know, hope4happy! I am also going to send this on to your case manager so they can be in touch, as well.

    2. In response to hope4happy

      Hope4happy,

      We are very sorry to hear of your continued frustrations regarding the delay in contact from your case manager. We have forwarded your post over to your case management team for contact. Again, we do apologize for the inconvenience and troubles this has caused you.

      Thank you,
      Liz R.
      MySears Community Moderator

  6. Just logged into my credit card account (for another reason) and saw that Sears charged my credit card $309.99 on 11/16 (even before I was originally scheduled to have the installation done). Not only is Sears not providing service, they're trying to charge for services not delivered. Sorry, Sears. I won't be paying that charge. I've filed a dispute with my credit card company.

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Hi hope4happy! I sent this on to your case manager for you! Look to hear from her shortly!

  7. I never have received an email from Danielle, but she did leave me a voicemail at 12:57pm on Sunday, 11/24, confirming that my issue had been escalated, but not really any more info. Yesterday, 11/26, at 3:21pm, my wife took a call from a Sears rep calling to make sure we knew that our work order had been cancelled because the area tech went back to Scotland for family issues & she was trying to figure out something & would call then. This is like a soap opera! Scotland? Really!? I'm wondering if they're still trying to assign the work to the same installer that already rejected the job (his name was O'Connell, so maybe he's from Scotland). I'm not going to worry about it for the Thanksgiving holiday unless my current water heater starts leaking faster. I'm going to reach out to a local plumber I've used before to see what he would charge to install the new water heater, so maybe I can just get this done, and then I'll work things out with Sears to compensate for my troubles.

    1. In response to hope4happy

      hope4happy,
      Thank you for keeping us informed about your situation. I will make sure to forward your post to your case manager for attention.

      Thank you,
      David W.
      MySears Community Moderator

  8. I have had no further communication from anybody related to this issue since my phone conversation with Danielle on Thursday - no emails, no phone calls, NOTHING!

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Hello hope4happy,

      We appreciate you taking the time and effort to inform us of this situation. I will forward this tweet to your case manager and request them to contact you.

      Thank you,
      Dianne D.
      Social Media Moderator

  9. 4:50pm local time:
    Just received a call from Danielle in Sears Holding Company customer care. She has been in touch with water installation dispatch and will be my point of contact going forward. She is emailing me her contact info. She is off the next two days but is going to come in Sunday to check on things.

    So, for now I'm just waiting to hear from somebody further to see when this water heater will get installed and if Sears is going to offer anything more than an apology for my trouble and wasted time.

    1. In response to hope4happy

      Hi hope4happy!

      We appreciate you updating us on the status of your concerns.

      Please keep us posted if you have any further issues.

      Thank you!

  10. At 3:50pm local time, I actually received a call from Pete in the water heater installations department (Yea! Somebody finally called me instead of vice versa.) He is working with the local store to see if it might be possible to contract with a plumber that is more local to my home and available to do the work over the weekend so that I don't have to take another day off on Monday.

    I already have two other appointments booked on Saturday, since I wasn't able to schedule anything today while I sat waiting at home, but we'll see how this all works out.

  11. hope4happy,
    We apologize for the trouble you’ve been experiencing with your water heater installation. My name is David with our Sears Cares Escalation team. We would like to have a case manager contact you directly to assist with this situation and address any other concerns you may have. At your convenience, please contact my office via email at smadvisor@searshc.com so we can help. In the email, please provide a contact phone number and the phone number the water heater was purchased under (if different than the contact phone number) and we will call you directly. Also, in your email, please provide the screen name (hope4happy) you used to post on this site, for reference to your issue. We look forward to speaking with you soon.

    Thank you,
    David W.
    MySears Community Moderator

    1. In response to SHC-DavidW

      I have sent an email with the requested information.

      Following my original post (at 11:54 my time, reflected as 10:54 on this forum), I first called the installer whom I was told at 9:50am was being assigned the job. He said he did not have the job. I then called the 800 number again. I spoke with Calvin. He was at least honest that there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it and “managers” at his location just made sure employees such as himself were on the phone and dealing with calls and didn’t really have any more authority. The level above him was “dispatch” whom he was emailing – the only method of contact he had available. He said he spoke with the installer, and being that it was now mid-day, the soonest the installer could do my water heater would be Monday – meaning I would have to take ANOTHER day off. I said this wasn’t acceptable given that I first called about this on 11/9 so there has been plenty of time for Sears to get this arranged. He escalated to dispatch, supposedly the team that has been handling this all along, and said Kathleen would contact me when she had a solution. I asked for a callback within an hour, regardless of whether or not she had a solution, so I wouldn't just have to sit here at home waiting for a phone call. That was two hours ago. No phone call, which isn’t a big surprise based on my experience so far.

      I am still “hoping for a happy” outcome to this fiasco.

  12. Welcome, hope4happy! We appreciate you taking the time to share your experience on The MySears Community. I am so sorry you are having such a hard time with your hot water heater replacement. I am going to pass this along to the SearsCares team. Once you are connected with them, you will have one point of contact to work through this with you, which I think will be helpful.

    A team member will be by in a bit looking to assist. As soon as they post, I will let you know via email with a link back to this thread.

    Thanks!

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