Last week, I fought with my Kenmore front load washing machine for much too long. I kept getting an “OE” error. I followed the instructions to the letter, cleaning the dust and lint from the areas suggested; nevertheless, each time I tried to use the machine it refused to drain or spin. My husband, a computer engineer, checked the unit too — several times! Reluctantly, I phoned the toll-free number to request repair service.
When I finally got a person on the phone, he apologized and performed what he needed to do to book a date for my dilemma. I confess, I was expecting to hear that a service person could be out soon. What I got was a shock to me! My history with Sears hasn’t been a good one, starting with their lack of professionalism and delivery etiquette when I purchased my Samsung French door refrigerator from Sears. Silly me, I thought Sears would adhere to the customer service they practiced many years ago, when my parents and grandparents only purchased items from Sears. Yes, like all things in life, Sears has changed — not necessarily for the better! Those who follow my blog probably remember the issues I had with the delivery of my refrigerator. It got so bad that the customer service rep that resolved the problems stated he would send me a $100 gift card for my grievance with them. Funny, that gift card never arrived!
Back to the phone conversation I had to schedule my washing machine repair. After holding on the phone for a bit, the customer service rep returned, telling me that ‘the first available date for someone to come to my home to check the washer would be Wednesday, January 23, 2013’ — exactly eight days away!
I gasped. “Eight days?” You mean to tell me I must wait eight days to get someone here to check and drain the washing machine? Eight days to have soaking, sopping laundry on my floor since it cannot spin the water out or drain? Eight days? Totally unacceptable!”
Without a doubt, my Julia Sugarbaker style was kicking in!
“Excuse me,” I said. “Do you not understand my situation? I have water on my laundry room floor from clothing I had to personally ring out with my hands, just to get it ready to throw into the dryer. Eight days is not acceptable. Something must be done!”
“Sorry, but we have no appointments in your area until eight days from now.”
Furious, I asked for a supervisor. No surprise there — no one was available.
“Then you must have additional phone numbers I can call.”
He shared two phone numbers. To say the least, Sears and I were not seeing eye-to-eye and I was ready to have my way with them — most diplomatically, Julia Sugarbaker style! When will Sears learn? You do not mess with a Steel Magnolia and when we, the customers purchase items, we are always encouraged to purchase additional warranties. For what — I ask you? For the customer to be inconvenienced until a ‘technician is in my area?’
The next morning, I had two cups of coffee, ready and able to share my thoughts with Sears. No doubt, I was not hanging up until someone assisted me with a suitable appointment — not eight days away!
The first phone call begins:
“Hello, Sears. Yes, this is Barbie Perkins-Cooper. I have purchased many appliances through Sears, with exception of my stove. Yesterday my front loading washer refused to drain and spin so I requested service. I was told that the “earliest available appointment in my area would be on January 23 — eight days from now.” This is totally unacceptable and I need someone to reschedule for today, or at the latest tomorrow.”
I was put on hold — then the phone disconnected!
This scenario continued for four phone calls — each time I got a new person and had to play my speech over and over again. Each time, I was disconnected and no one had the courage or customer service skills to return the phone call. There was no acceptable excuse there because each rep had my phone number!
The fifth time I phoned, my nerves were really frazzled. “Yes, hello, Sears. I hope your day is going well because this is the fifth time I’ve phoned to reschedule an appointment to repair my washer, and EACH TIME I’ve been placed on hold then disconnected. Please do not suggest that you need to place me on hold. If I have to phone again – I will probably seek additional means to resolve this issue. Sears, do I make myself clear?
The customer service rep apologized for my lack of service and said she would see how she could please me today. I laughed.
“Please me? Let’s just resolve the issues. I need my washer serviced and I will not accept that it will be eight days before a service technician can get to me. I was told that “there was no appointment in my area now. Again, I say, this is totally unacceptable!”
The conversation continued, but this time the customer service rep was a bit more understanding.
“I do need to place you on hold to see what I can do.”
“Oh please! I’ll just be disconnected again — for the fifth time!”
Reluctantly, I held — the phone clicked — disconnected for the fifth time.”
Now, I was really — do I say it — no, I think I’ll still be diplomatic, only this time if I have to go to the highest Sears tower, I will get my Way!!!
I redialed the phone number. My phone clicked with call waiting. I answered. The customer service rep was calling me — the first one to have such customer service skills.
Immediately she apologized, then she said she had found ‘a technician in my area and he could be at my home today!’
Imagine that! Sears was mistaken when they said there was ‘no appointment in my area until eight days from now.’ Were they lying to me? I think so! Rule number one of customer service skills — never lie to or deceive a customer! It’s a pity that Sears does not practice what they preach, nor do they provide the warranty customer service they always push on the customer — of course, for an additional fee!
I thanked “Aver, the customer service rep,” and I waited for the technician to arrive. Within fifteen minutes, Greg, a Sears Blue Service Crew Technician arrived. He examined my washer, discovering that the pump was clogged with sand. He cleaned it, drained the water and was on his way to the next customer in less than one hour.
Imagine that! I cannot help being curious to customers who do accept Sears customer service, along with ‘scheduled appointments in the area.’ Perhaps the customer service reps are programmed to schedule with inconvenience in mind. Perhaps they do not anticipate someone refusing to accept these comments and schedules. Perhaps Sears does not remember that Southern belles still exist, and I am not one. Southern belles might accept whatever Sears expresses. Steel magnolias — and I am most definitely described as a Steel Magnolia, do not accept this type of behavior. We sit back, think and reevaluate, while knowing that this type of customer service is not acceptable — and then — we get even, refusing to be pushed aside. We, the Steel Magnolias of the Twenty-First Century, do all that we can to get our way — not because we want to be selfish or demanding — we want to be treated like we are preferred customers. We are accustomed to being treated with respect, because we deserve it and demand it. The Julia Sugarbaker Steel Magnolia knows how to be diplomatic, charming, and ever so ever determined to get what we deserve. As for Sears, we deserve preferred customer service where we are treated with respect. While it took a bit of persuasion with Sears, I did achieve my goals, never doubting that something couldn’t be done. The excuse/fabrication/lie of “There is no appointment in your area until…”
was truly something I was not promised when I made my purchases. Just what would happen to the customer who has a refrigerator that is not working. Would they actually be told that it would take ‘eight days’ to get it repaired?
Sears — you really need to improve your customer service.
Later that afternoon, while washing laundry, I got an e-mail from Sears. A survey! Oh, let’s just say, Julia Sugarbaker truly kicked in. My motto is, if you do not want my opinion — do not ask! Let’s just say, the survey I completed — on a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being the worst — Sears flunked — BIG TIME!
“Hello, Sears, yes…this is Barbie Perkins-Cooper reporting about your service…You failed!”
Regarding the technician — Greg — he was fabulous! He is a Sears Blue Service Crew Technician. The back of his card reads:
“Tell us how the crew did:
1. Did we treat your home with care? YES
2. Did we treat you as a valued customer? YES
3. Did we explain the cost and repair? There was no cost — I still have a paid warranty, but he did explain the repair.
4. Did we look and act professional? YES
5. Die we offer other products/services? I IMAGINE HE WAS FOREWARNED ABOUT THE CUSTOMER — AND HER TENACITY!
6. Did we provide service you’d recommend?” NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT UNTIL JULIA SUGARBAKER SPOKE.
On the phone, I shared that I would never buy another product from Sears. It isn’t worth the hassle!
I have no faith in Sears anymore, especially after they promised to ‘send me a $100 gift card for the inconvenience of getting my refrigerator delivered” — I think it was two or three years ago. Perhaps that gift card was sent via pony express since Sears customer service refuses to move into the Twenty-first Century!