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Sears Automotive – An Experience in Poor Customer Service

This past summer, the light on my dashboard came on letting me know that my brake pads needed to be replaced.  Unfortunately, bringing the car in to Sears Automotive for repairs lead to far more problems than I ever expected to need to fix.

I generally choose to take my car to Sears Automotive over local repair shops for the simple reason that they are open Sundays and it fits my schedule the best.  Since my only availability is weekends, I need a repair shop that can be available when I am.  Bringing my car to Sears that fateful Saturday afternoon led to replacing brake pads, bushings, and brake arms.  A far more expensive proposition than  originally planned.  They also could not get the parts by the time they figured out the extent of needed repairs, which meant they not only couldn’t get the necessary parts until Monday and my vehicular mobility would be non-existent until Tuesday.  Luckily, I use trains that are within walking distance to get to work, so I was not completely out of luck.

Having spent a couple hours at Sears Automotive on that fateful Saturday, four days without my car, and a financial expenditure far beyond that which I expected that day, I thought the worst was over and my brakes would be good for the foreseeable future due to my infrequent driving.  Unfortunately, the real customer service failure was yet to come.

Two months after that weekend of annoyance, I was driving home from Rosh Hashana dinner at my parents’ house when the brake light came back on.  I was amazed that it had happened so soon and knew I needed to take it back to the repair shop the next afternoon.  I brought it in and after being there two hours, was told that the rear sensor was damaged, but the brakes were fine.  Since they did not keep them in stock, they would order them during the week, but I could come back the following weekend and they would have them ready for me.

I did not make it back the following weekend due to scheduling but two weeks after the sensor incident, I returned to Sears Automotive to get the sensors installed and to have them look at an issue with one of my rear lights.  I was told it would be an hour to an hour and a half, but they did not have the sensors, had no note of which sensors they were, and would look at my car again to make sure which sensors they were.  I camped out in the waiting room with my laptop and started doing work.  After two and a half hours I went looking for someone who could tell me the status of my car.  When I finally spoke to someone they said my car had been ready for almost two hours and they didn’t tell me.  TWO HOURS.  All they were doing was putting my car on a lift, checking a few things, not doing any real work, and they made me wait three hours for it.

The following Friday, I called ahead to make sure they had the sensors in stock.  He ordered them when I called, so that when I arrived the next day around 12:30 pm, they pulled them out of the backroom to find he ordered front sensors.  I headed back to the waiting area with my laptop again and began working as he picked up the phone to order the correct sensors.  I was told an hour or two because one of the technicians had called out sick, leaving only one to do work, and I thought that was fine, since I would be able to get through a good portion of what I was working on in that time.  Two hours became three hours became four, and I went out to the counter to get a status on my car, which was still sitting in the same parking space I had pulled up in.  The gentleman at the counter said it hadn’t been sitting there the entire time, but the paperwork wasn’t in the drawer.

I waited while the counterman went back to the technician, only for the technician to say they hadn’t started work on my car yet.  I had been made to wait four hours in their waiting room while they did nothing with my car, then had the counterman lie directly to my face.  I waited for another hour in the waiting room, and this time I went directly to the manager to complain that I had been there for 5 hours, my car was still not ready, and I had to leave for my dinner plans.  I walked back with her to see them not working on my car.  With us standing there, they started working on it, and the technicians repeatedly plugged and unplugged the sensor, disconnected and reconnected the battery, turned on the car to see they did it wrong, and repeat.  This process went on for an hour, during which time the technician said the sensor broke because it was rubbing against the rim from when they installed it. They finally hooked up the sensors correctly and I could finally leave after being there for six hours.

I set out on the road to my friend Jeanette‘s birthday dinner in Brooklyn, a solid hour away from where Sears Automotive was located.  As I was driving, I noticed there was a little wave to the hood as I was driving down the highway.  When I finally arrived, I went to check the hood, only to find that it was not locked down and the right side of my split grill was missing.  So now they have wasted 12 hours of my time, and cost me the grill.  I went back Sunday morning and asked to speak to the manager.  He came out and told there was nothing they could do except maybe replace my grill for me, depending how much it cost.

I had the severe displeasure of witnessing the incompetence of Sears Automotive first hand and watched as I was forgotten, lied to, and ultimately they couldn’t even plug in the sensor properly.  I have used their service for the upkeep on my car for years and after this experience, I have no desire to ever bring my car back to such inept workmanship and awful customer service.

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