Sears delivered and installed a new dishwasher yesterday. Actually, we purchased the dishwasher from Sears and they contracted someone else to deliver and install it. The dishwasher replaced is a 1987 Whirlpool that did a superior job day in and day out, a bit loud in its later years and missing a piece here and there but I’ve kept it going with some wire and a few screws. Recently it began to look very sad and was on the verge of needing some repair that involved duct tape – that was our tipping point. Off we went in search of a new appliance.
We we drawn to a Whirlpool model at Sears based on the performance of the old dishwasher and Sears’ reputation for quality appliances. (I believe Whirlpool makes the Kenmore brands for Sears). The one being replaced continued to do a great job, no leaks, no sparks, no drama. This was on April 15. According to the sales person the model we selected was so popular the earliest delivery and installation date would be May 4. That was just ok with us. He didn’t offer to search other stores for the model or suggest an equivalent that was in stock. Sales is not his long suit and at one point he argued, with his superior knowledge, that 24” was the only size of dishwashers. (big clue here if you’re in sales, if it doesn’t matter let it go). After finally deciding to purchase this appliance having it installed in the next day or two would have probably made us return purchasers.
For me, Sears was a cornucopia in my consumer imprinting years, whatever one might need or want (except groceries) those needs and wants would be satisfied at Sears, if not at a store through the catalog. I was branded. Out in the world and on my own I always bought Craftsman tools, nothing else measured up, there just wasn’t anything better. When I pass, my survivors would still be using my Craftsman tools. Then Sears turned on me, how about a “Tool Club” with a consistent ten percent discount? Wow! You Bet! The problem with this club was I could never exercise the ten percent advantage. My go to place deserted me and leaves my survivors a hodgepodge of pretty good tools.
Like a spurned lover, every few years I return to Sears expecting her to have returned to her former ways. And every time I’m wrong. I was wrong again with the dishwasher. Not only did we have to wait for three weeks for an expensive appliance, the installation window we were provided was 4 hours, between 1 and 5. Even the cable companies have it down to two hours.
The installer did an acceptable job at the installation, as far as we know, but hadn’t a clue how this model worked, suggesting it was much like a computer and there was an instruction book. Oh, the delivery and installation were quite pricey, thank you, with a separate charge for hauling away the old dishwasher. Well it doesn’t leak, so far. The point of all this is Sears spurned me again. The installer had to visit Home Depot as the drain line he brought was too short and he asked for a check for $30 for the longer line. I declined, suggesting I be billed as I would be contesting the unexpected charge. I don’t have a problem paying for the longer line but I’d already paid for the shorter line that will be used on another installation. And, I’d like to check the price at Home Depot or see the receipt.
And where’s our salesperson? What’s the effort reward ratio of calling on the delivery day or the day after to see how things are going and if we’re satisfied? That simple act would salve a lot of wounds. Oh well.
When I’m on my treadmill I try to catch a Discovery Channel production called “Sons of Guns.” It’s about a small business called Red Jacket Firearms in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA. The founder of Red Jacket is Vince Hayden, a determined small business owner, dealing with the myriad of issues that corporations have discrete departments for. He is a master of customer service (at least in what we see on TV). In every sale he’s looking at the next sale to the same customer. In every sale, he’s looking at access to additional customers. In every sale he cares deeply about his reputation. He’s what Sears used to be. At least in the sales we see Red Jacket customers are always given a surprising and explosive finale. But it really doesn’t matter that its weapons, it could be running shoes or cotton candy – the customer is always smiling and proud of the purchase. It may not happen every time but that’s what the viewer sees – and that’s the point – Sears needs some Red Jacket customer service.
We do have to replace our washer and dryer and range in the near future and further along the refrigerator and a lot of this and that, but we’re done with Sears, again. Sears has finally extinguished the embers. Sears showed up drunk at my birthday party. Sears changed all my Christmas presents into underwear and I’m done.