Recently, our much beloved Kenmore front load washing machine seemed to have died. I’m not kidding about the “much beloved” part. Best washing machine either of us has ever used. Sadly, it seems it’s mission was to seduce us, and then commit suicide, forcing us to pony up for another high-end machine. When we called Sears Home Services to fix it, here’s what happened:
On December 9th, my wife received a service call from technician number 0000497. I was working and wasn’t available at the time to examine our malfunctioning Kenmore front load washing machine, and we agreed that the quoted $129 fee was a reasonable price to pay to have the unit examined and possibly fixed. We understood that this was a minimum fee and would not guarantee a repair.
When I got home that night, I was presented with a $129 bill and a repair quote of $692.74; a price seemingly designed to force us into buying a new unit. The “Parts Required” list on my quote reads:
1 SUB CNTRL-EL $292.01
1 SUB CNTRL-EL $228.77
Parts Sub-Total $520.78
Net Parts $520.78
Tax on Parts $ 42.96
Total Parts $563.74
Estimated Grand Total $692.74
Since I had nothing to lose, I went ahead and performed the repair myself. 40 minutes and one square inch of sandpaper later, I had a functioning washing machine that has already lasted a month and a half and completed dozens of wash cycles. At this time I am confident that my repair was successful. Note that the trained repair person quoted over five hundred dollars in what he described to my wife as (to my recollection) “control boards”, complicated electronic assemblies which had absolutely nothing to do with the actual problem. The correct repair involved removing and disassembling the mechanical locking mechanism for the door, removing a bit of carbon buildup on a set of electrical point contacts, and reassembling the machine. That’s it. No parts needed whatsoever.
My first complaint is that the repairman who visited us was either tragically ill-trained, or his job was simply to bully us unto replacing a unit that required nothing more than simple maintenance which easily could have been completed in the time he spent “diagnosing” the machine. I wouldn’t have objected had his quote included the correct parts assembly, but he wasn’t even in the ballpark. I did spend a few minutes examining those boards, and there was no reason to be confident they were the point of failure. There was no reason not to investigate the mechanical mechanism.
My second complaint regards the physical construction of the locking mechanism. Such a mechanism should be mechanically dead simple, and require at most one moving part. The assembly as implemented had at least a half a dozen moving parts, arranged in an extremely overcomplicated fashion, the only rational explanation for which is to provide a point of failure on an otherwise beautifully designed machine.
Finally, the technician had not properly remounted the control board casing to the frame of the machine. In his defense, the retaining clips were not sufficient to the task, and some had already broken, either during or before his work. If I hadn’t remounted the casing, I’m certain the movement of the machine would have caused further damage.
Finally, I would like to add that my wife and I both love our Kenmore front load washer model number 11045862400. (Seriously, it needed that many digits?) It has been the best washing machine either of us has ever used, and we are glad to have it back in service. We’re expecting our first baby in April, and there’s no way we would have been able to afford a machine of this cost any time in the near future. I substituted the word cost for the word quality, because I truly believe that this machine was designed to provide a great user experience, and then to fail.
I am requesting a full refund of the $129.00 that we paid on Service Order Number 82838365 from Sears #: 0008078 on December 9, 2009.
Joseph T. Manning
PS: This message will be submitted to consumerist.com, along with whatever resolution comes of it. -JTM