Bring on the heat, former Sears customer begs legendary retail giant

Sears declared bankruptcy in 2018 but its parent company still offers online sales and Sears Home Services.
As temperatures cooled in October, she used her gas oven for heat, which is a potentially deadly fire and carbon monoxide hazard.
Published: Oct. 31, 2023 at 12:03 PM EDT|Updated: Nov. 1, 2023 at 9:05 AM EDT
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ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Sara Height bought a Sears extended warranty for a new furnace over two decades ago. Back then, Sears was an appliance retail giant, but as competition and online retailers like Amazon flourished, the brand name synonymous with quality fell flat.

Sears declared bankruptcy in 2018, with no remaining stores in Atlanta. However, its parent company, TRANSFORMCO, still offers online sales and Sears Home Services, a service similar to other home warranty providers.

Height is a longtime customer who’s been renewing her Sears Home Services’ furnace warranty since 2001. Through April of this year, Sears honored the warranty by providing maintenance calls and repairs. But as the furnace reached the end of its lifespan, Height’s daughter said the repairs didn’t last more than a few days.

“The gentleman that came out a couple of weeks ago … told her this doesn’t make sense for me to come out here because you shouldn’t be going through this,” said Jackie Johnson.

A Sears spokesperson said records show Height never went more than a few days without heat, but admitted the case was not escalated to its protection agreement benefit administration group. The spokesperson said Height’s case is not “normal” and should have been resolved sooner.

As temperatures cooled in October, Height used her gas oven for heat, which a potentially deadly fire and carbon monoxide hazard.

“I want my mom to have a new furnace,” Johnson said. “I want her to be comfortable because this has caused her a lot of stress.”

Shortly after Atlanta News First Investigates contacted Sears, a spokesperson confirmed Height’s furnace qualifies for replacement.

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“At Sears, our top priority is the satisfaction of our customers,” said Elieen Jaffre, the company’s senior manager of customer experience. “We regret the difficulty Ms. Height encountered with the repair of her furnace and take responsibility for the delay.

“Over the years, we have provided timely service for Mrs. Height. This last repair, toward the end of the heating season, resulted in a needed part not being available.

“Even though Mrs. Height was no longer needing her heating system in the spring and summer, we should have moved faster on replacement. Ms. Height arranged for replacement on October 19th, and we will be reimbursing for the unit and installation costs under the terms of her service contract.”

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