How to Poison Appliance Shopping at Sears

So my wife wanted to buy a new clothes dryer because our current dryer of 10 years no longer gives off much heat — even in 95 degree weather. This appliance no longer dries or even “cooks clothes” like it did for the last year of its existence so off we go appliance shopping. We’ve swallowed the Costco kool-aid a few years ago so it’s only natural to survey their selection at their warehouse before making any other moves. Viewing these items online doesn’t do it for us so we’ll eventually purchase something from a brick and mortar building.

As we begin to think of other places to frequent, my wife nonchalantly announces we really need to purchase a new washer and dryer — would you not know, my wife needs both appliances to match. I think to myself, our small cramped mudroom will never be featured in Home and Gardens or HGTV but I’m in a good mood so I merely smile and think to myself, “choose your battles, buddy.”

On the way home from Costco in Mettawa, Illinois, I suggest Sears in Vernon Hills as they typically have a good selection of appliances.

Initially, I really like what Sears has to offer, this includes front and top loading machines. Minutes after browsing around, we bump into a salesman I’ll call Frank, apparently our salesman for the evening. He certainly was customer centric and answered all our questions and most of our curiosity about new models of washers and dryers. A good bloke and our comfort level with Frank met if not exceeded our expectations. We found several we liked — front loading and the traditional, top loading washers and dryers. We surveyed the initial sticker price and felt Sears in general and Frank in particular was at this point, in the appliance photo. 

After kicking the tires and discussing the nuts and bolts of these machines, Frank mentioned the actual pricing of some of these appliances. The appliances we thought we settled on were about $1850 which included new hoses, another connector or two, delivery, disposal of old appliances and taxes. I’m sure veteran shoppers of these appliances know the need to do your math after settling on a few machines are could suit your needs. At this point, we were interested and captivated clients.

Once we had a chance to digest the total cost and whether we wanted to cement the deal, Frank mentioned a maintenance plan. My wife and I quickly engaged in non-verbal communication with each other, we were both surprised and befuddled by his mentioning of the maintenance plan and perhaps the timing too. As we listened further, our mind didn’t focus on the service involved but rather, the total maintenance cost. I thought, “Why is he talking about a maintenance plan even before we said “yes” to the appliance deal?”

Perhaps my world is too logical because the reason I purchase new appliances or are willing to pay a little more for a washer and dryer is to avoid the hassle of getting these units maintained. I understand why some consumers buy a maintenance plan for such items such as furnaces, air conditioners and perhaps car oil changes but for a brand new washer and dryer?

I know Frank had a job to do so my wife and I allowed him to pitch the maintenance agreement — it would cost around $650 for a 5 years plan, 3 years would fall within the $300-400 category. All the good will and graces that had been accumulated up to this point was quickly deflated, the biggest balloon in the room had just exploded. Before any talk about the maintenance plan, my sales cap was engaged knowing that I may succeed in getting my wife to agree to purchase these appliances. After the word “maintenance” was introduced with those dollar amounts, my goal changed from convincing my wife to buy to let’s leave the store ASAP and stop wasting our time and perhaps Frank’s too.

Needless to say, we didn’t go back to Sears even though I wanted to give them a fair shot because of their selection and perhaps for sentimental reasons. In my heart, I still want Sears to succeed but sometimes, they make it hard. Anyway, could they have done things differently? Was Frank obliged to pitch the maintenance agreement along with all other sales people? Is there profit margin so low on the appliances that this agreement helps to recover some of the lost profit margin? In our eyes, a lost opportunity by Sears.

ONE NOTE

After leaving Sears, we did more research on appliance ownership and in addition, we visited Lowe’s, Home Depot and Grand Appliances. Through those experiences, we did not find a single store or salesman that offered a maintenance plan or any talk about having a certified technician on hand to do regular maintenance on all units, even on the newest models.

 

 

 

 

 

Kevin Schwarm

I have over 25 years of professional experience in business, information technology (IT), and customer service. Industry experience in retail, medical insurance, higher education, non-profit, financial services, and property and casualty insurance. Customer focused professional interested in providing value (save time, money and aggravation) by evaluating and analyzing information, services and products with a unique perspective.

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