Customers trying to call Sears Canada to inquire about a refund for extended warranty plans are being put on hold and not receiving answers even when they finally get hold of an operator, according to several reports received by Global News.
Sears Canada, which received court approval last week to liquidate its remaining 131 stores, announced on Monday that it won’t honour several of its extended warranty plans beyond Wednesday, Oct. 18. The company, however, added that customers who have purchased a so-called Sears Protection Agreement within the last 30 days would be able to get a refund.
But claiming that refund might be tricky. Several people contacted Global News reporting that when called Sears to ask about their eligibility for the refund, they waited on hold for over an hour and failed to get answers.
One woman from Saint John, N.B., who asked not to be named, said that the only Sears operator she was able to speak with appeared to be unaware that the company had announced it would no longer hold up warranty agreements. She was then transferred to another line, where she was put on hold again. She said she eventually hung up after spending about an hour and 20 minutes on the phone, most of it on hold.
Another woman who did not reveal her full name reported being on hold for three hours without being able to speak to a human being. She said she recently bought six new appliances and stands to lose $1,100, should she be unable to claim a refund.
WATCH: Sears Canada granted approval to begin liquidation
Sears advises emailing instead of calling
Customers who have bought a protection plan in the last 30 days can request their refund via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, company spokesperson Vincent Power told Global News.
“The timestamp will serve as an indicator of when they called, even if we don’t get to the refund right away,” Power wrote.
However, those whose purchase is dated before that need not wait on hold, as they will not be refunded.
“Sears regrets the long wait times and we hope to resolve this issue as we move forward,” the retailer said.
In reference to claims of some employees not being aware of Monday’s warranty announcement, Sears noted that its “teams are being exposed to new information quite rapidly during these proceedings.”
“They are unusual circumstances through which we are trying to serve our customers as best we can. We hope to do better, and we apologize for any inconvenience that our customers may experience as a result,” the company said.
Most customers will still be able to count on a one-year manufacturer’s warranty, Sears said in a press release on Monday. That includes Kenmore appliances, according to Power.
The retailer also said it is looking for a buyer for its Sears Canada Product Repair Services (PRS) business. However, it added that “the terms upon which an acquirer of that business would provide services … are not known at this time.”
Servicing agreements on furniture and mattresses under the Guardsman (Valspar) protection plan, on the other hand, will hold.
Coupons for unused warranties
Several people who got in touch with Global News were also wondering about a condition attached to SPAs that provides for a coupon equivalent to the amount paid for the protection plan to be used toward in-store purchases for customers who do not end up needing a service call during the term of the warranty.
The coupon applies only to purchases of at least twice the value of the warranty. For example, if you purchase a protection plan for $100 and never use it, you can get a $100 as long as you spend at least $200.
Customers eligible for the coupon can use it up by end-of-business on Oct. 18, Sears told Global News.
Money for nothing? Some could face monthly bills for now-useless warranty
Sears’ inability to hold up its protection agreements also means that several Canadians may be stuck with monthly payments for a service the retailer can no longer provide.
Sears reportedly pitching extended warranty programs until very recently
Global News has also received several accounts from Sears customers describing aggressive sales pitches for the retailer’s warranty plans even in the months after the company filed for creditor protection.
“Unbelievable!!!! A representative of Sears called me last week and tried to sell me an extended warranty on my Kenmore products!!!” wrote customer Marina Fry.
The company had initially hoped to remain in business after corporate restructuring. On Oct. 10, however, it said it was seeking court approval to shutter its remaining retail locations after failing to find a “viable” solution that would allow it to continue operations.
“As soon as it was determined that this was not to be, we ceased selling protection agreements.”