Kevin Hunt: Furnace Leaks, Coventry Woman Fumes While Waiting Days For Promised Sears Repair




Do not count Catherine Nasin among those who welcomed the recent Fourth of July holiday. All it meant was one more day of cleaning up a furnace leak as she waited for Sears repair service to return to her Coventry home.

Nasin, who turns 88 in August, was exasperated when she called The Bottom Line just before the Fourth. Because of the mid-week holiday, and an apparent low-priority classification on the service call, she'd have to wait until July 11 for the repair.

That was more than she could take. Aside from closing in on 88, Nasin was also wearing an air boot on her left leg, up to her knee, as she awaited surgery for a ruptured tendon. ("The basketball girls have that problem more than anything," she says, "from all the jumping they do.")

Nasin wasn't exactly jumping, though she was hopping mad. Every day, she'd descend into the basement, mop up the water and carry a bucket back up the stairs.

"I could only do it once a day because of my leg," she says. "I'm not supposed to be on it much without support."

Nasin first called Sears on June 25 with a basement water leak related to the central air-conditioner unit. (Earlier in the month, another Sears technician discovered the AC wasn't working and reset the furnace.) Sears scheduled the service visit for July 2.

"While this is taken seriously," says Dana Shoulders, Sears' team manager for regulatory complaints, "it is not quite the same as when we have elderly customers with no cooling at all. As you can imagine, this time of year service calls with no cooling have the highest urgency."

That sounds fair. Sears also did not know about Nasin's physical restrictions. But when the repairman showed up July 2, he left without fixing the problem, Nasin said.

"He went down and checked the whole thing," says Nasin. "Water was on the floor and everything. And he says, 'It's OK.' I says, 'What did you do?' He says, 'It's OK' and he left. He wouldn't give me any background."

Nasin promptly called Sears again. That's when she was told the next available service call was nine days away, July 11 — more than weeks after she first reported the leak. That's when she called TBL for help.

"It got too far ahead of me," she says.

TBL contacted the Sears corporate office and, by the end of the day, Nasin had a new appointment for July 5 and a promise of a new technician. Can't beat that for big-corporation, customer-service response.

On the Fifth, Nasin celebrated as if it were the Fourth. The repairman spent more than an hour in Nasin's basement. He repaired the coil at the drain. He also cleaned the drain and the drain pan. No more leak.

"Everything has dried up, finally," Nasin said that day.

Sears says the previous repairman had cleaned the clogged drain, assuming it had stopped the leak. Shortly after he left, however, the leak resumed.

"It appears that he could probably have spent more time assessing the situation," says Shoulders. "We apologize that the previous repair she received may not have been up to our standards."

Nasin is still grateful for her dry basement.

"I just hope it stays that way," she says, "and I have no more problems with Sears."

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