No trained dishwasher repair person, Sandra Levin still had a pretty good — and likely accurate — idea about what was ailing her 18-year-old Kenmore.
That didn’t matter much to the actual repair person, who replaced the unit’s motor and whose bosses ghosted Levin when Levin tried to point out the new motor didn’t fix it.
Levin, of the town of Westport, told SOS on June 16 that she had been “noticing that my dishwasher was taking longer to wash the dishes and seemed to be stopping more often when it indicated that it was ‘sensing.'”
“Also, when done with the dry cycle, the dishes did not seem as hot as they usually were,” she wrote in an email. “Prior to this, if I started to unpack the dishwasher as soon as it finished drying, the dishes were almost too hot to handle. Now they did not seem that warm.”
Kenmore is the decades-old consumer appliance brand long touted by owner Sears, which entered bankruptcy in 2018 and is now under the auspices of parent company Transformco.
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Levin, though, discovered that the company formerly known as Sears was still offering repair services through subsidiary Sears Home Services, so she said she called the subsidiary’s West Towne Mall office in Madison and had one of its technicians come out to take a look on May 16. She told him she suspected the problem was a faulty heating element, she told SOS, but he diagnosed the problem as a malfunctioning motor and ordered a replacement. On June 6, a different tech came out and installed it.
The dishwasher’s performance did not improve as a result, Levin said, and the technician who had installed the new motor returned a few days later. She said he told her the heating element should have been checked, but in any case the part was no longer manufactured.
Levin was understandably not pleased that she’d paid $526.40 for dishwasher repairs that didn’t repair the dishwasher. When she complained, the tech gave her “three different numbers I could try to reach someone about a refund,” she said.
“All of the numbers result in going through long, involved telephone trees that do not let you talk to anyone,” she said. “I finally got a very long website address, but that also resulted in paging through page after page of various possible questions with answers. I finally got to a place where I had a number to contact, but that resulted in hearing the same voice and options that I had listened to earlier on one of the other numbers.”
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking on Sears Home Services’ 90-day guarantee.
SOS encountered similar roadblocks getting a live person to respond to its inquiries on Levin’s behalf: An email to a Sears media relations person bounced back. An offshore call center employee acting on behalf of Sears Homes Services provided a phone number that, when called, rang and rang before disconnecting.
A form on Transformco’s website was submitted and messages were posted and sent through the Sears Homes Services Facebook page, and on June 22, SOS received an unsigned email from “BlueRibbonService3” at Transformco. The email offered apologies and assistance, and the next day another unsigned email arrived saying that after speaking with Levin, Transformco was providing a refund.
Levin said that on July 5, she received a check for $387.40 for the cost of the repairs minus the service call, which she would have had to pay anyway.
“BlueRibbonService3” declined an opportunity to dispute any of the details of Levin’s allegations but did unmask himself when requested.
“We sincerely regret that Ms. Levin had a poor experience with her dishwasher repair,” said Steve Ward, senior manager of executive member support. “Because we were not able to successfully repair her dishwasher, we refunded Ms. Levin $387.40. We continuously review our processes to see how we can improve upon our service and best serve our members.”
Levin has since had a new dishwasher installed.
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