Automotive

Here we'll post news about Sears complaints concerning automotive subjects.

Just received this from Chuck in Florida:

January 16th, 2008

Hi Steve...Glad I came upon your website today...I have purchased many an item from Sears in the last decade but based on what has happened in the last 6 months I can see that Sears is out to completely destroy it's customer base...It would not surprise me should it happen with them going bankrupt within the next couple of years...Well here goes the story: In the last 2 years starting in 2006 I purchased 3 Sears Diehard batteries for our 3 vehicles and about 6 months ago, my wife's car wouldn't crank so I pulled the battery purchased in 2006 and brought it to Sears for replacement based on their 36 month warranty 100% replacement rule. Of course they took it and checked it immediately and informed me they would have to do a 43 min check...I left and came back an hour later and was told the battery was still good...OK what now???...I naturally brought the so called good battery back home, reinstalled and it still did not crank...I then brought it to a battery place here in town and they said it was putting out low voltage and could be reconditioned...What was actually done was add distilled water and charge at a reasonable cost...Well the battery cranked the car and worked for about 6 months and same thing happened again so I brought it back to Sears today and the same thing as before was about to happen...The Auto department took it from me for a quick check while I waited and in speaking to the supervisor told him how it came to this point because I am an honest man...Well once he heard I had taken it to someone else for reconditioning, he promptly ran into the shop where the battery was and came out declaring it would need a 43 min check the replacement was null and void because it had been reconditioned...Needless to say my explaining that the only reason I took it elsewhere is because Sears told me it was still good when it was not did not register and the worse of this is I immediately told the supervisor that if he is not going to replace it, I wanted the battery back and based on this treatment I would never purchase an item at Sears again which did not phase him one bit...As you can see he had a really bad attitude (returned from where the battery was and slammed it on counter and said here is your battery sir) and I personally think it was because it was 5 minutes to Noon and he wanted to go and have lunch...These batteries by the way are not cheap about $116.00 each including taxes...I know now what to expect should I have a problem with one of their batteries (I have 2 more) and believe me when I say I will not purchase there anymore I mean business...
 
Thanks and hope you will post this for others to discourage purchase of these so called super batteries from Sears because they will never replace them during the warranty period...
 
Chuck Lombardo
Bradenton, Florida

March 17, 2004
Sears Roebuck and Co. will pay more than $625,000, including approximately $125,000 in restitution to thousands of New Jersey consumers, to settle allegations that it ran auto centers that defrauded customers in connection with the sale of four-wheel alignment services.

The settlement was announced by New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Reni Erdos.

The settlement agreement comes more than a year after the State filed suit against Sears alleging that the company’s auto centers throughout New Jersey repeatedly violated the State’s Consumer Fraud Act by charging for “four-wheel alignments” on vehicles which did not allow for rear-wheel adjustments.

Many of the vehicles in question, the State alleged, were designed to undergo only “two-wheel thrust angle alignments” — which involve adjustments to only the front wheels.

It's hardly the first time such accustions have been made. A 1999 class-action suit in Illinois claimed Sears defrauded customers nationwide of $400 million by charging for wheel balancing it did not perform. The suit charges that up to 30 million customers were defrauded between 1989 and 1994.

Sears settled a similar case in Florida recently by admitting no wrongdoing while paying $580,000 to the state and offering free wheel balancing to customers.

During the period at issue, Sears Roebuck owned and operated the nationwide chain of auto facilities under the names “Sears Auto Centers” and “National Tire and Battery” (“NTB”). At that time, there were 24 Sears Auto Centers and two NTB facilities in New Jersey. Sears continues to own and operate the Sears Auto Centers, but no longer owns and operates the NTB facilities.

“Through its practices, Sears charged consumers for a service they did not – and could not – receive,” Attorney General Harvey said. “The agreement requires Sears to refund to New Jerseyans its ill-gotten gains.”

Sears will pay New Jersey $500,000 to cover future Consumer Affairs’ initiatives. Sears will also pay the State’s costs — an amount to be determined — in connection with its investigation and litigation of the case against Sears.

Also as part of the agreement, Sears will pay $125,440 to 12,544 consumers in restitution, representing a $10 payment to the known consumers who, between Jan. 1, 1997 and Oct. 1, 2000, purchased a four-wheel alignment from Sears and who the State alleged should have been charged for a two-wheel thrust angle alignment. The $10 payments represent the price difference between the four-wheel alignment and the two-wheel thrust angle alignment.

“Most people lack the technical expertise necessary to know what kind of services can and cannot be performed on their vehicles,” Director Erdos said. “As a result, consumers brought their vehicles to a place they trusted. Unfortunately, we allege, Sears used that trust against consumers.”

The Division of Consumer Affairs has provided Sears with a list of the 12,544 affected consumers along with their addresses. Sears will make restitution payments directly to those consumers by April 2, 2004.

In addition, Sears will pay $10 to additional affected consumers who, within one year of the agreement, come forward with proof (in the form of a receipt or invoice) that they purchased four-wheel alignments from Sears between Jan. 1, 1997 and Oct. 1, 2000 for their vehicle where adjustments to the rear wheels were not possible or where rear adjustments were possible only with the addition of aftermarket kits/parts that were not installed by Sears at the time the alignment was performed. Such consumers should contact the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Consumer Service Center at 1-800-242-5846 or 973-504-6200 (if calling from outside the State of New Jersey).

 

October 11, 2002
New Jersey's attorney general has filed suit against Sears, accusing it of overcharging hundreds of customers at its car-repair centers around the state.

The lawsuit claims that Sears routinely charged for performing "four-wheel alignments," even though only the front wheels can be aligned on many vehicles. The suit also charges that mechanics told customers they would conduct a "free" vehicle inspection but then went on to charge for unauthorized repairs supposedly discovered during the inspections.

According to the lawsuit, Sears offers only a $59.99 four-wheel alignment and does not offer any discount on vehicles with a "live," or solid, rear axle. Rear wheels are not adjustable on such vehicles, which include most pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and other light trucks and full-sized cars.

The lawsuit also charges that Sears mechanics routinely did repairs without providing a written estimate and often failed to tighten lug nuts or properly grind brake rotors.

Attorney General David Samson said the state will seek refunds for customers and penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. The lawsuit lists 362 alleged violations.

A Sears spokesman in Chicago said the company knew nothing about the allegations until being served with a copy of the lawsuit and denied the alleged actions were part of a companywide policy. But both Samson and Gov. James R. McGreevey said the actions were widespread and pervasive.

"This was repeated over and over again. There was a persistent and pervasive pattern of fraud and deception," Samson said. He said there were at least 350 instances of the alleged overcharges for wheel alignments at 19 separate Sears stores in New Jersey.

McGreevey said Sears was responsible for "a moral erosion of business practices."

None of this is new for Sears. Ten years ago, it was accused of defrauding millions of auto repair customers. It finally settled that suit by offering $50 coupons to nearly one million auto-repair customers.

In 1992, Sears paid a $200,000 penalty in New Jersey after the state conducted an undercover investigation into alternator repairs. In that investigation, the state charged that Sears mechanics routinely disconnected a wire leading to the alternator and then recommended unnecessary alternator repairs and replacements costing up to $400.

Just got this via email.

Dec. 28th, 2002

I am writing you to tell you my recent experience with Sears. On Christmas eve, 2002.  We were leaving town when we discovered a  nail in our tire.  We had purchased our tires this past spring from a large chain store and have had NO problems at all with them.  The only place open at 4pm on Christmas eve was Sears. We took the car in and was told by one guy that they stopped taking orders at 4pm- however it was 3:55 pm.  They took our car and said it would be a flat repair for $15.00, and about an hour wait.  The service advisor also told us at that time the tires were all worn and needed to be replaced- when we told him we had just got them this past spring- he said "well- you must not keep them inflated properly."  We have our tires balanced and rotated every 4000-5000 miles and always check the pressure.  But according to sears- we need a new set of tires- We waited around the mall area and went back to find out that they were not able to repair the tire since the nail was in the side of the tread.  Our only option in order to leave town to see family was to purchase a new tire at $114.00.  Paying that-  we got our new tire and were on our way.  We asked that they keep our flat tire so that we could pick it up and take it to the chain where we bought it to see if we could get a replacement tire, since we had only had them less than 10 months.  After Christmas, we returned to Sears, picked up our tire and  went to the other chain- where the owner of the store said that there was no reason that we had to purchase another tire-  repaired the tire and it has been fine every since. 
 Its nice to know that Sears has everyone's interest in mind- especially their pockets! 

Chuck Turney