All Doug Dale wanted was a working dishwasher.
If that couldn’t happen, he at least wanted what was promised to him.
No luck there, either.
Dale said he purchased a new Kenmore dishwasher from Sears for his Monroe home about five years ago. Once a year for four years, the same part would break, he said, and Sears finally offered him a 30 percent discount on a new machine. But, Dale said, the company didn’t come through on the promise — until Bamboozled called Sears, that is.
Here’s how it happened.
“In the four years that we had that dishwasher, the same part broke four times,” Dale said. “The motherboard of the dishwasher continued to break down, rendering the dishwasher unusable. We have paid for this part every time at $120 each.”
The fourth time the part failed was in the summer of 2013, records show.
Dale said he called Sears, and once again, he was told he needed to purchase the needed part.
“On the fourth go ’round, I wouldn’t settle for paying again,” Dale said, wanting the company to provide the part for free. “Sears would not go for it, even though they kept agreeing with me that the part should not have broken down four times in four years.”
Dale decided to try social media. He said he put a post on his Facebook page about his customer service experience, and a friend suggested he post his complaint on the Sears Facebook page.
So he did.
Almost immediately, he received a message telling him to email someone named Candice at Sears.
So Dale emailed, he said, and Candice emailed back, giving him a phone number to call her.
Dale said he called. And called. And called again.
“I never got straight to Candice. Every time I called I always had to leave a message. She never just answers the phone,” Dale said of the August calls, noting he didn’t record the exact dates.
But on Sept. 28. 2013, Candice called him back, saying she couldn’t give him the part for free but that she was exploring other options. First, though, she’d have to speak to her supervisors, Dale said.
More time passed, and Dale said he finally spoke to a supervisor, who offered him a 10 percent discount on a new dishwasher.
“I wasn’t happy with it but was at the end of my rope,” Dale said. “I pushed it and asked for free shipping, but he wouldn’t even go for that.”
Dale decided to think it over, and there was some more back-and-forth with company reps until, finally, Dale was given the phone number of a rep named Tony.
“He gave me the same story about not being able to give me the part for free, but after speaking with him a few times, he offered me 30 percent off if I purchased a new dishwasher from Sears,” Dale said. “He told me something was shorting out the control panel on my machine, and it would keep doing it if I got another part anyhow.”
By now it was the second week in October, and he hadn’t had a working dishwasher since the summer.
Figuring he was out of options, Dale decided to buy the new machine.
He said Tony instructed him to make the purchase, and three to five days later, he should call Tony back and Tony would put a refund worth 30 percent of the price on Dale’s credit card.
Dale bought the new dishwasher on Oct. 13. This time it was a Whirlpool, for $540.
He then reached out to Tony.
“I called him for weeks. I never got a return call. About six months or so after all of this I wrote on the Sears Facebook page again and they told me the same story,” Dale said, noting it offered the same email address for him to contact.
Dale said he replied on Facebook that he had already sent an email to that address, but he received no further response.
He said he continued to leave messages for Tony at least once a month, but he never received a reply.
“I was ready to give up on it, but then I read one of your articles, so I decided it was worth another try,” he said. Dale then gave the details to Bamboozled.
Dale provided copies of his receipts and a timeline of his correspondence with Sears.
We reached out to the company, and while it reviewed the case, we took a look at the life span of dishwashers.
A dishwasher is considered a “durable good,” which is defined as a product that is not consumed or destroyed in use, and can usually be used for at least three years.
A review by the National Association of Home Builders, called “Study of Life Expectancy of Home Components,” said dishwashers should last for nine years. Some other studies said that with proper maintenance, dishwashers can last even longer.
Indeed, it seems the one first one purchased by Dale had trouble that a dishwasher of that age shouldn’t have.
Within a few days, Sears contacted us with good news.
“I’m going to cut him a check for the 30 percent, which is $150,” a spokeswoman said. “Rather than go back and forth, I would rather just take care of the customer.”
We called Dale with the company’s response.
“I’m smiling from ear to ear. I can’t believe it,” he said. “I’m excited that they decided to take care of this without more fighting.”
Have you been Bamboozled? Reach Karin Price Mueller at Bamboozled@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @KPMueller. Find Bamboozled on Facebook. Mueller is also the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com.