The Cost of Buying a Washer/Dryer from Sears Outlet When Six (then Seven) Months Pregnant

washer dryer
My husband and I are expecting our first child next February. To mark this rite of passage, as well as the white hot second when we considered cloth diapers, we decided to order our very first washer and dryer. Since every conversation around raising a child in New York City ends with nervous laughter about financial ruin, I went online to SearsOutlet.com. There, if you don’t mind a few dings on a former floor model, or a returned Maytag Maxima XL, they’ll offer “20%-75% off regular retail prices on appliances and more!”

Theoretically.

My online research yielded two things:

1. The belief that there are two types of people in this world: The type who write online reviews for appliances like: “The inclusion of color on the cycle select indicator and the unusual control panel layout adds some flair and pizzazz to an otherwise average-looking appliance” and the rest of us.
2. Two energy-efficient and seemingly sturdy washer/dryer sets at around $1,000.

So on October 11 it began.

I logged onto SearsOutlet.com and used the “Click to Chat” feature to see what the experts might say. T appeared. She was so nice. In just a few minutes she found me exactly what I was looking for and loaded my cart with a Whirlpool Washer and Dryer set for $1,135.54 including delivery. This exact set from Best Buy would cost us $1,306.48. We were saving $170.94! We were right on track to be really amazing parents!

I did notice that online, the dryer was listed as store pick-up in Delaware, but when I brought this up to T she answered back immediately.

T: No worries it will come to the same store so that they can load it.
You: so they will be delivered together?
T: Yes. that’s correct.
You: wow, that is so great
T: You just need to request it on special delivery instructions box on delivery page.

And so I did.

Cost: $1,135.54/0 days
Savings: $170.94

Almost immediately I received an email titled, “Your SearsOutlet.com order is ready for pickup.” I called customer service. They were confused. We patched in Delaware Sears. “No problem!” said the Store Manager. “I will absolutely make sure both machines are loaded together.” Perfect. I ate some nutrient rich kale, the baby kicked, a dove did not cry. Everything was going as planned.

But then Sears went silent. I logged onto my account with my order number but I got an error. I gave it a day and tried again. On October 23 an email hit my inbox titled, “Your SearsOutlet.com order is out for delivery!” Oh good. Except that the body of the email only listed our washer, no dryer. So I called again and was connected with a woman, M. Looking back I can’t recall a time when I didn’t know M, and I know I’ll be stunned when I flip through my high school yearbooks and her face is not there. But in October she was just a friendly woman manning a call center in Iowa without any record of my dryer. M threw herself into my case. She called back to inform me that B, also of Delaware, personally witnessed our dryer being loaded onto the truck. And because the order was so delayed M was going to refund half of our delivery fee for an additional savings of $110.48. We were back in business. The dryer would arrive within two days.

Cost so far: $1,025.06/11 days
Savings: $281.42

On October 25 I was in a Trader Joe’s parking lot in Virginia Beach when my husband called. The washer was delivered. No dryer. I called M. I called the trucking company. I bought jalapeño Ting Tings and engaged in several rounds of phone tag to confirm the obvious. The dryer was missing.

This is my first pregnancy. This is also my first dryer. It’s nearly impossible for me to say what the proverbial straw was that made me lose my mind. In my defense, M did it first.

What happened since my dryer went into the New Jersey/Bermuda Triangle:

· M went uncharacteristically silent. When I finally caught her at the call center she said that she had been sending me emails. I hadn’t received them. She tried me at a different address with no luck. She thinks Sears is blocking them. She snuck a $50 gift card in the email.

· M and I called Delaware and spoke with K. (Not a lot of job retention at the Delaware Sears.) K cannot refund me for the dryer, he says, because he does not have it. Nor can he send a replacement. K cannot do anything. I could hear him shrugging as he casually wiped the dust off of a Kenmore Elite 24. M played the pregnancy card. “SEVEN MONTHS, K.” K sighs. There is nothing he can do, the dryer left the store. He offers to show us the surveillance video.

· Science may disagree, but I think at some point on the phone call with K my unborn child discovered flame and lit my blood on fire from the inside. I lose my mind, I am Super Mario banging my head on the question mark box until it just won’t stop dinging but instead of coins I’m slinging creatively paired expletives about what the ever-loving fuck K will do. When describing my ability to walk and carry the weeks of laundry that have piled up while waiting for this machine I scream, “FUCKING DUCK” and a million iPhone autocorrect angels get their wings.

· K tries to placate me by telling me he used to live in Brooklyn and throwing out his Coney Island zip code. It backfires horribly. I break K. We come to an understanding. He promises to call me by Monday, November 3, with a solution.

· The gift card arrives. The entire cost of shipping is refunded to my credit card.

Cost so far: $1025.06/15 days
Savings: $391.90
Bonus: $50 credit to a store I will never shop in ever again

· K does not call, when I call to find him I am told he is off today. I enter “K Sears Delaware cellphone” into Google in the hopes that I can call him on his day off and… I don’t know. Make him give me what he owes me. Which at this point is more than a dryer.

· I spend the week of November 3 in the throes of a deep dark Sears obsession. I call the Delaware store and/or Customer Service every day and am somehow surprised when their information is conflicting or inconclusive. Much of our conversations circle around a slip, one piece of paper that, even in the year of 2014 and 3D printers, seems to have been lost, or filed, or in need of a signature, or is sitting on a dryer in front of K’s office waiting for the truck.

By the one-month anniversary of our order I cannot hear or mention the words “dryer” or “Sears” without having a physical reaction. When people ask me how I am feeling, presumably in relation to the life that I am carrying, my answer is almost always, “I am at war with Sears.” I know that this is not the answer that they are looking for. (Also, I am having an otherwise very pleasant and painless pregnancy, there is not much news to report there beside great!/my pants don’t zip.)

It’s very clear that this dryer will not be arriving within the next week, or maybe month, and certainly not without continued time and effort on my part. I don’t know at this point what is keeping me going. Maybe it’s that I know I am “right”, or the sunk cost of the hours I have spent on this mission already. There’s also the not insignificant savings of almost $400.

The other thing that people tell me about becoming a parent is that it’s a full life surrender. In one day everything will change, and it’s impossible to know just what that other side will look like until it happens. I know that my friends with children, at least in the beginning, are rarely if ever seen after sundown. I’ve read “Go the F*ck to Sleep” more than once. I think we are as prepared as we can be for what comes next while still knowing that after he’s here even the most basic of decisions won’t be up to us.

I think, right now while I can, I just want to have the power to make one thing go as planned.

Cost so far: $1,025.06/30 days
Savings: $391.90
Bonus: $50 credit to a store I will never shop in ever again

UPDATE: I was finally able to get a tracking number. For two days I tracked the dryer on its journey from Delaware to Maryland to New Jersey just miles away from where it was supposed to be loaded onto a different truck to be dropped at my place in Brooklyn … to Massachusetts. Calls to Sears and the trucking company yielded nothing. Tomorrow we’ll know? Maybe sometime next week?

On November 13th I contested the charge on my American Express and on the 14th a new dryer arrived from Home Depot. It cost $706.63, currently the lowest price for the model that corresponds with the Sears washer delivered last month. Both were installed immediately.

The washer does not work. A maintenance appointment has been scheduled for today.

Cost so far: $1280.44/37 days and counting
Savings: $136.52
Bonus: $50 credit to a store I will never shop in ever again

 

Kate Tellers lives in Brooklyn with her furry husband and dog. She hopes to someday do laundry in her home.

Photo: Casey Fleser

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