Thunder Bay

'I'm angry,' says Thunder Bay, Ont., Sears customer over extended warranty loss

A woman in Thunder Bay, Ont. says she recently spent close to $800 on an extended warranty from Sears which will not be honoured, and feels customers have been treated poorly.

'I don't think they treated us right,' says customer who spent hundreds on extended warranty

Lys Clifford holds up the pamphlet that came with the extended warranties she purchased earlier this year for three household appliances. 'So we're looking at a substantial amount of money that Sears had their associates sell us, when they probably knew that they weren't going to get through this,' she said. (Amy Hadley / CBC)

A woman in Thunder Bay, Ont. says she feels she, and other customers, were taken advantage of by Sears, after the folding company announced on Monday that extended warranties will not be honoured.

Earlier this year, Lys Clifford purchased a fridge, stove and dishwasher from the department store, and spent close to $800 on five-year extended warranties that she now won't be able to use.

"I'm angry with [Sears]," said Clifford, noting that her family have been loyal customers of the store for decades.

"I don't think they treated us right."

Since the manufacturer's warranty covers the first year, Clifford said the extended warranties she bought hadn't even kicked in when she learned that the store was going into liquidation. 

"Consumers rights are low on the totem pole in a bankruptcy." - Ken Whitehurst

She's concerned that many other customers will be in the same boat.

"So it's not just my [money]," she said. "It's how many other people, in Canada, are going to be out this amount of money?"

Sears has stated that only warranties purchased within the last 30 days will be refunded. 

Attempts to reach the department store have also been frustrating, said Clifford. Before the company announced its intentions regarding the warranties on Monday, Clifford tried to call Sears for information, and waited on hold for more than five hours with no answer.

A 'corporate Dunkirk'

That lack of response is not surprising, said Ken Whitehurst, the executive director of the Consumers Council of Canada. 

"The Sears situation is going to be like a corporate Dunkirk," he said. "There are going to be a lot of people feeling stranded on the beach, and hoping someone will come rescue them."

"It is a bankruptcy and a lot of the front end services that people expect are going to be affected," he continued. "Consumers' rights are low on the totem pole in a bankruptcy." 
Sears Canada liquidation sales begin on Oct. 19, and the company has stated that extended warranties will not be honoured as of Oct. 18. (Jeannie Lee/CBC)

Whitehurst said he advises anyone who purchases an extended warranty from any company to examine them carefully.

In some cases, a third party such as an insurance company or manufacturer may also be responsible for a warranty, he said.

"Sears has been a long-time trusted supplier, in particular of small and major appliances, and a lot of protection plans have been sold under the Sears brand, so people are definitely going to have a lot of questions," he said. 


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