And Another Thing…

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The Sloppy Side of Sears

Megan McArdle has a funny and appalling post about her current 8 day wait for Sears to repair her broken washing machine. Reading it reminded me of a misadventure of my own with this company.

In 2004 I was the supervisor of a group home for 5 adult women with mental retardation (MR). The home was a rental and all of the appliances were owned by the landlord (a very nice lady in Maryland who always responded promptly to any concerns I brought to her attention). The week before Thanksgiving, the washing machine broke. Now, for those of you with little to no experience with MR or multiple people sharing a house, let me explain that this can very easily be catastrophic. Why, you ask? Because folks with MR tend to go through clothes quickly; sometimes they need to change clothes a couple of times a day. I will leave it to you to imagine why this is necessary. You’re smart enough to figure it out.

When my staff alerted me to the problem with the washing machine, I called the owner of the home who informed that the machine was under warranty with Sears; she gave me the product and warranty number. I called the nearest Sears repair center (which was in Maryland) and reported the problem. They said that it would be two days before someone could come to fix it. Two days was a long time, but I figured that my staff could manage. I was scheduled to leave for vacation in two days, but my staff had emergency numbers they could call 24/7 so I figured they were in good hands.

I returned from my vacation on the Monday following Thanksgiving to find that nobody from Sears had ever shown up or even called for over a week. My staff had been taking the clients to a local laudromat the entire time.

After practicing some anger management exercises, I called the Sears service center and got the exact same lady I had spoken to more than a week earlier. She made some excuses about being real busy. When I asked for a timetable, her response was basically a polite variation of “We’ll get to it when we get to it.”

I don’t remember the exact words that came out of my mouth; I am sure that some expletives slipped through. But I think that the gist of my statement was that the washing machine was in a group home for disabled adults and that I would hate to think that the non-service we had received so far was an indication of the Sears Corporation’s attitude towards people with disabilities. In fact, I would hate to have to start informing disabled advocacy groups, the Better Business Bureau, and anybody else I could think of that Sears was indifferent to the needs of the disabled.

Suddenly, the schedule miraculously cleared and she promised to have a repairman there that very day! Its sad that we have to resort to threats to make things happen in this day and age.

Megan, you have my sympathies.

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