Monday, September 20, 2010

The Washing Machine

In late July, 13 months after the expiration of the warranty--and a month after the American Express extended warranty had expired--our Kenmore washer quit working. The error code on the LCD display translated as a water inlet problem, but nothing the manual suggested worked.

The repairman who came (in early August) diagnosed a broken pressure switch. With parts and labor, we were out nearly $300. Three cycles later, the machine stopped working again.

The same technician came Aug. 12. This time, he said two circuit boards were bad. He didn't have them, so he'd have to order them. With labor, we'd be out nearly $800.

Added to what we'd already spent on the first repair, the cost was starting to approach what we'd paid for the machine. And when you pay that much for a washer, you expect it to last a long, long time. Here's what happened after my wife wrote the president and CEO of Sears:

Sept. 10 -- Call from Sears Executive Offices. Woman offers to issue retroactive one-year extended warranty. She makes a Sept. 13 service appointment; assures us she'll call after repairman's visit.

Sept. 13 -- Repairman does not have parts required, knows nothing about extended warranty. Call woman from Executive Offices. No answer, leave voice mail. Call several times over next several days. No response.

Sept. 15 -- Call Executive Offices emergency response number. Woman who answers promises to e-mail original woman who called; promises response within 24 hours.

Sept. 16 -- Call Sears Home Services. Warranty is on file! Make appointment for Sept. 28.

Sept. 17 -- Call Sears Home Services: Will repairman have parts? Request parts be ordered.

Sept. 20 -- Call Sears Home Services. Have parts been ordered? Service order has note about parts. Will they guarantee repairman will have parts when he comes? Transferred to different department. Learn technician must order parts. Explain I have parts numbers. Ask what point to tech coming out again just to order parts? Put on hold. Woman comes back, says she's found a way to order the parts. Tearfully express my thanks.

Sept. 23 -- Parts arrive. One good thing about this--practicing my Spanish at laundromat.

Sept. 28 -- Repairman scheduled to come between noon and 4 p.m. Call Sears at 3:30 p.m. Advised repairman running late. Repairman calls at 4:16, advises he will call when on his way. Wife calls Sears at 7:30 p.m. Advised that repairman tried to call but received no answer. Check voice mail; no message.

Sept. 30 -- Still waiting to hear from Sears Executive Offices. Repairman arrives; replaces parts. Two hours after repairman leaves, attempt to run clean cycle as per his instructions. Washer reports F27 error code. Call Sears Home Services, advised repairman can come Friday or Monday. Call Executive Offices, leave message I'm renting pickup truck, loading washer, and leaving outside front door of Sears store in mall.

After this, I stopped taking detailed notes, but the woman from the Sears Executive Office who'd first called finally called back. At first, she said she'd replace the machine, then after she checked, she found out Sears' policy was to try one more time to repair it.

The service tech came on or about Oct. 1, and replaced the water pump. It worked for several cycles and quit again. Alas, however, we were not to get our new washer because the very first service call back in August didn't count on Sears' three-strikes policy.

The same tech came out Tuesday and made an emergency order for three new parts and a service appointment for Oct. 28. The parts came Friday and I called Sears Executive Offices and got the appointment date changed to Saturday.

I'm waiting for him as I write this. This time, they promise, we get a new machine if the repairs don't work.

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