COLORADO SPRINGS — Retailers often try to sell you extended warranties on electronics and major appliances, but some Sears customers believe the bankrupt company isn't honoring the protection plans they sold.
When one Colorado Springs woman couldn't get her broken refrigerator replaced, she called News 5 Investigates for help.
Diana Bress keeps copies of every problem she's had with her $3,000 refrigerator. First she experienced issues with the air filter. Then she says it would randomly turn on and off.
"I didn't think about it but my daughter said to try rebooting it because it's a giant computer so we pulled it out and counted to 20 seconds, plugged it back in and it came back on," she said. "But it did that every 24-36 hours."
Some mornings she says she'd wake up to find the refrigerator off. That led to food spoiling.
"You know I'm not going to wake up in the middle of the night to check the refrigerator," Diana said. "That's an unnecessary burden on the customer."
Sears did send technicians out but each time, they couldn't solve the problem.
Instead of sending her a replacement refrigerator after that, they sent her a refrigerator replacement part which sits in a box.
Diana says she placed multiple phone calls and spent countless hours on the phone with customer care---trying to get her refrigerator fixed or replaced.
"The longest time we've ever had to stay on the phone waiting is 3 hours and 10 minutes," she said. "It was usually 2.5 hours each time to finally get someone. It didn't matter if you called at 8 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon. It's like they have one employee for the whole country."
She even tried chatting with a representative online.
Several weeks went by with no resolution.
"I feel like after this long, that was just way too much time and they offered to rent a refrigerator for $50 a week---what a deal," Diana said sarcastically.
Diana then reached out to News 5 Investigates for help.
"I watch Channel 5," she said.
We started investigating and found Sears appliance warranties are handled by a company called TransformCo. The agency acquired assets to Sears in 2019---not long after Sears announced bankruptcy.
While the majority of Sears locations are closed, customers have not forgotten about them.
In the last 3 years, 6,000+ complaints were filed against the company with the Better Business Bureau.
4,600, or 73-percent involved complaints with a Sears product or service.
Another 772 complaints dealt specifically with warranties and guarantees.
After News 5 touched based with the company in charge of warranty repairs, they sent Diana a refund for her broken refrigerator.
She was able to go to another big box retailer and purchase a new refrigerator with her refund.
Are warranties worth it?
Always compare the cost of the warranty to the cost of repairing a product or replacing it. Keep in mind---most high end electronics and appliances depreciate over time.
Ask the sales representative whether the warranty runs consecutively with the manufacturer's warranty or whether it kicks in after the manufacturer's warranty expires.
Some retailers outsource their purchase protection plans. Ask who will be in charge of repairs should something go wrong.
Watch out for deductibles! Buying a warranty may come with a deductible for a home service call or repair.
Some credit card companies automatically double the manufacturer's warranty at no additional cost---so check your card benefits first before saying "yes" to a warranty or protection plan.
Do you have a problem or issue you'd like News 5 Investigates to look into? Send an email: News5Investigates@KOAA.com.