Stranger Than Fiction, Part Deux: The Furnace Saga Continues


January 2, 2015 by phicks2012

portcullis-02Back in June I blogged about a furnace issue, and followers requested a follow-up to this mildly entertaining, if highly frustrating, saga. Here it is!

The problem had me ready to pitch a very colorful tantrum — preferably in front of a Sears Repair location — because Sears (after a lengthy and very annoying sequence of events involving several incompetent or misinformed technicians) refused to repair a unit technically “covered” by a maintenance agreement, saying there was “rust” involved. They claimed that “rust” was causing the leak in a system that relied upon circulating hot water to supply the heat, and that my maintenance agreement specifically did not cover damage caused by “rust”.

They didn’t want to work on it, and no one else did either — informing me (as if I didn’t already know) that it was an “unusual” system, that very few people worked on such systems, and that no one carried the parts for them.

Okay, well I KNEW the last part to be untrue, because I was not only able to find parts, but to find them LOCALLY. The company wouldn’t sell those parts directly to ME, mind you, because I’m not a licensed HVAC technician, but there’s a big difference between the parts not being available to me DIRECTLY and not being obtainable at ALL.

Eventually, the weather started getting cold, and I knew I had to do SOMETHING, so I bit the bullet and called a friend who used to be in the HVAC biz. His brother, also a friend, was still doing that work, so I begged him to come by and at least give me an opinion on what could be done, and also to give me a professional opinion on whether or not “RUST” was actually involved. I mean, the whole “RUST” thing was really (obviously) eating at me, because the pipes that appeared to be leaking were made of copper. I took chemistry. Copper doesn’t “RUST”.

So, on December 6th he came by, bless his heart, and checked out the furnace, and stated that the leak involved the copper coils, and was NOT “rust” related. The water from the system ran crystal clear (I made pictures), there was no sign of rusty discoloration inside the drain pipe (that shows in the photos too), and he told me that if there were any “rust” in the system the water and pipe would both have been rusty. He said he would give me a report stating this (to give to Sears), and told me that actually it would be an easy fix (taking about 30 minutes) if the part (a new coil) was available — WAY easier, in fact, than working on a gas furnace.

He assured me that that he could repair the unit and — once I gave him the name of the local source — could get the part, but said that Sears really ought to pay for it since it was supposedly covered by my maintenance agreement. He advised me to call Sears and
1) Tell them that a licensed HVAC technician had checked out the unit and found NO “RUST”. The leaks were small leaks such as happen over time in COPPER coils, and in the solder where they are connected due to repeated expansion and contraction, and (once again) copper does not “rust”.
2) Find out if they would at least pay for the parts and the repairs and
3) Find out if after the repairs were finished and done by him as a third party the unit would still be covered by my MPA.


BLESS YOU, Mike!!!

So I called Sears, subjected the tech to the salient and colorful portions of the back-story, and informed him of Point One (see above relating to “RUST”), and asked about Points Two and Three as well. He caved, and sent me a form via email authorizing the work to be done outright if it was going to be less than $300, supplying contact information for my repair wizard to get authorization if it was OVER $300, and stating that Sears would reimburse me for any authorized work if I sent them the receipt along with the form. He also assured me that as long as I did it that way the unit would still be covered by my MPA.

Well, it’s going to be more than $300, because the part alone tops that by about 200%, but Mike got them to authorize an amount sufficient to cover the part, the shipping, and the repairs, so all we’re waiting for now is for the part to get in (estimated arrival by the end of the first week in January).

Keep your fingers crossed, because I had to pay for this up front and now am having to trust Sears to reimburse me as promised. Hopefully, this will actually happen, and if it does I’ll pass the word along. If it doesn’t, I’ll share that as well — and oh, I’ll also shout a LOT!!

My hints on dealing with situations like this are to 1) take copious notes concerning every interaction, including dates and names, 2) be as polite as possible, but persistent if you know you’re right, and 3) Be creative. Quoting the X-Files “The truth is out there”.


4 thoughts on “Stranger Than Fiction, Part Deux: The Furnace Saga Continues

  1. Bill McNutt says:

    4) Refuse to go away or leave them alone until your problem is solved. I have been known to actually SHOW up at offices and wait until someone would talk to my face.

    • phicks2012 says:

      An excellent suggestion! Persistence in any form can turn the tide, and if they have you right there in front of them they can’t claim to have been “disconnected”. This isn’t my first rodeo, so I know how to be a consistent pain in the butt when companies don’t much want to stand by their promises and claims.

      In Sears’ defense, they’ve been great with most “covered” items and appliances over the years, but the technicians they invariably send out when I have furnace issues are always 1) told they’ll be working on an Air Conditioner or Water Heater instead of a Furnace (do the computers they use for appointments not recognize the word “furnace”, do you suppose?), 2) Totally unfamiliar with my type of furnace (even when warned well in advance when the appointment is made), and 3) Eager as all get-out to literally Get Out without actually working on the unit (probably due to never having been trained in any way to work on a similar system). Some of them will tell their supervisors just about anything to avoid attempting the repairs, so I’ve really had to learn the hard way how to be a continual pain in the corporate side until I can (God Forbid) find a technician who actually knows what he’s doing and then get the job done.

      The timing on this one pretty much sucks though, and I’m lucky I do have a couple of space heaters and working fireplaces!! 😉

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I am an active, outgoing person interested in all sorts of things and all sorts of people! I'm constantly discovering new interests, and expect that to continue right into the grave!

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