Argh! This damaged freezer is making me come unhinged

Photo by stevendepolo/Flickr Creative Commons
Question: My husband and I ordered an upright freezer from Sears. The delivery driver bounced it off of a wall in the basement and now it has a large dent in the side. The driver was concerned, and he said that he would try to help us. I assume he did this so we would accept the unit, and he wouldn’t have to carry it back up the steps.

He and my husband, Edward, each spoke with a Sears representative, who offered us a $100 gift card.

My husband asked me if I thought that was good, and I agreed. We were told it would be mailed, and would take about two weeks to arrive. When it finally arrived three weeks later, it was a coupon for 10 percent off my next purchase, which is considerably different from the promised offer of the gift card.

I was hoping you might be able to help us. Can you get Sears to keep its word? — Alex Schuler, Erie, Pa.

Answer: Sears seems intent on disappointing you — and me.

Of course, the Sears technician shouldn’t have damaged your freezer when it was delivered. And I agree, trying to get you to sign off on the delivery with the “promise” of a gift certificate was a ploy to get you to accept a damaged product. You probably shouldn’t have done that.

The key strategy to prevent this situation would have been to get some kind of assurance of a $100 gift certificate in writing, even if it meant asking the technician to scribble something on the back of his business card. All of your calls to Sears, and all of the verbal assurances by the technician, are difficult to verify, because you have no way of proving they happened.

Sears worked hard to screw this case up. Even after I contacted it, and it promised to send you the gift certificate, and you got that promise in writing, it failed to deliver the card within a reasonable amount of time. (How do I define “reasonable”? I just used Sears’ own definition. It didn’t send you the card when it said it would.)

Your dented freezer lifts the lid on several problems at Sears, including an outsourced delivery company that Sears won’t stand behind, phone representatives who apparently will say anything to make you happy but then pretend the call never happened, and a company that’s so indifferent to the needs of its own customers that it will brush off the overtures of a reader advocate.

The gift card eventually arrived. But by then, you had already made up your mind about your next Sears purchase: there won’t be one.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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