Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Blue Crew falls down on the job

kw: complaints, service industry

Given four days of practice, I've become rather adept at sponge bathing with two quarts of water warmed in a microwave oven. There was a time when Sears employed their own service staff, and they did good work quickly, but now…

It started Saturday, when the hot water at our house got extra hot. Then Sunday, it just began to cool off, and we realized the water heater had quit working. What I surmise happened is a breakdown of the upper thermostat, which resulted in the upper heating coil (this is an electric unit) burning out. Sunday I called Sears Repair and was told someone would come Monday afternoon. Since that time:
  • Repairman 1 came Monday afternoon, fiddled around with an electrical tester, replaced the two thermostats, took my check and left.
  • By nightfall, there was still no hot water, so I made another service call. I was told someone would come Tuesday morning. I got half a day's work in between 4AM and 8AM, then returned home to await the repairman.
  • Repairman 2 called at 11AM to say he'd be arriving before Noon.
  • At 12:30 nobody had come, and no calls, so I called service again. They said, "Oh, it is scheduled for 2:45." I asked them to find out why he was late. It seems the service truck had broken down. I was to await another call.
  • Repairman 2 called again and arrived just before 3PM, in a borrowed van.
  • He determined that the upper thermostat was dead on arrival, but said he had no parts in the borrowed van and I'd have to call again, but that I had to call in the morning.
  • I called Wednesday morning, and was told nobody could come until Thursday (today). I made the appointment.
  • Repairman 3 came about 11AM this morning, and was clearly incompetent—as was the dispatcher. He'd been sent to repair a gas water heater and had no parts to replace the bad thermostat, nor did he have an electrical tester with him. I kicked him out.
  • I called Sears customer service and demanded a refund of the $200 I had already paid. The C.S. rep was at least pleasant, and promised I'd be called within the following 24 hours by someone who would work out how to make the refund.
  • I called a company I'd had recommended to me, Jos. Frederick & Sons, and asked if someone could visit today. Someone did, about an hour after my call.
  • This repairman took a look and said, "This is scary." It turned out the thermostat in the lower space was supposed to be an upper thermostat, the upper thermostat was indeed broken, and in addition the upper coil was burned out. The unit is sixteen years old, and he recommended replacement.
  • Although a replacement unit was more than $1,000, we decided to do that.
  • Another man came with a replacement unit from the warehouse, and by 2:30PM all was done. This time I paid with a credit card.
  • Before he left, I asked him to verify somehow that the coil was indeed getting current. He did so. The proof is if I get a hot shower tonight.
I'll give Sears this: their subcontractor did have one competent repairman of the three that were sent, and the customer service writer was pleasant and efficient. But they'd have better results if the service staff were Sears employees. Outsourcing is a simple way to produce more nightmares.

No comments: