Late last year my wife and I upgraded almost all of our appliances, stove, refrigerator and so on, through our local Sears store. We also bought the extended warranties for each appliance.
On Friday I called Sears to find out who I would contact when I needed warranty repairs. First of all, I was shuffled from voice mailbox to voice mailbox and from telephone tree to telephone tree, finally ending up leaving a voice mail at a number, purporting to be a Sears store in Boise. There was no way I could talk to anyone, I mean ANY human person at the Sears store in Coeur d'Alene.
Apparently Sears has not only left the 35 former store employees high and dry, they've completely abandoned all those that bought products from Sears that may need warranty service. I for one will never buy another Sears product of any kind.
For decades, Sears has touted its hometown image and service of its products. Not any more. I can smell a lawsuit coming when consumers find that their products and especially the warranties they purchased to be worthless and certainly not as represented.
MY ADVICE: Don't buy any Sears products, especially appliances and NO extended warranties. I feel as if I've been let down by an old friend, and in fact — I have. Because of their attitude and non-customer service, Sears will quickly go the way of the Dodo Bird and Roebuck.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The Press received this response from Sears on Friday, Feb. 9:
At Sears, our top priority is the satisfaction of our customers. It’s important that our current and future customers understand that certain claims made about Sears’ business by the Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls Press and Bill Brooks in its front page story from February 5, 2018 were false, misleading and damaging. Sears is a leader in the service contracts industry and proudly stands behind its protection products. Sears, as well as any other company that legally sells service contracts, is required to meet certain regulatory requirements designed to provide adequate resources to fulfill service contracts into the future. While we made the difficult decision to close the Coeur d’Alene location, a store closing does not impact the service contracts sold by a Sears store. Our members can call 1-800-4MY-HOME with any questions they have about protection agreements and the home services provided by Sears.
Chief Executive Officer
Sears Home Services
ELDER ABUSE — SOMETIMES A FAMILY AFFAIR: An elderly consumer contacted me with a heartbreaking story. It seems that his children, for years, have been financially “bleeding” their own dad. As a matter of fact, they've been lying and “borrowing” money from their dad for decades. They've used one story after another, tax liens, illnesses, this hardship and that. The kids have told their dad if he goes to law enforcement, they could be prosecuted and jailed.
In my opinion, he should file a formal complaint, and they should be prosecuted and sent to jail. The fact is, this won't happen. Dad's been a soft touch for decades. The adult “children” (the youngest is in his fifties) have learned how to “play” their father.
At this point, the gravy train is ending. Dad barely has enough money left to stay in his home and buy food for himself. Children who prey on their parents are some of the lowest forms of life. They are spoiled, and feel like they are entitled to their parents' money, even before their parents are in their grave.
MY ADVICE TO PARENTS: Stop handing out money like you're an ATM machine. Quit giving relatives “loans” that are never paid back and structure your wills so that any money “loaned” is taken right off the top of any money left to ungrateful, conniving, opportunistic offspring.
Unfortunately, sometimes family is only an accident of biology. If you find yourself in a situation like this, please call me and I'll give you a number to report possible elder abuse, and an attorney who will help you structure your estate.
NO FUND ME: Here's another idea that started out good and has gone downhill. In the beginning, “Go Fund Me” was a way for people to help others who were in difficult situations. Unfortunately, it has become a place for scammers and con artists to hang out.
It's the online equivalent of the person pretending to be poor, sitting by the roadside with his dog, displaying a sign saying “God Bless — Any Amount Will be Appreciated,” and at the end of the day, walking around the block and getting into their late model expensive automobile.
MY ADVICE: “Go Fund Me” is fine IF YOU PERSONALLY KNOW THE INDIVIDUAL asking for donation. If you don't know them, DON'T contribute. Some of the sob stories are very compelling, written by master scam artists. I help people I know. I'm a sucker for sick kids and animals that need operations, but in this day of electronic con artistry, I've learned to be very careful. I suggest you do the same.
WINNERS INTERNATIONAL — SCAM ALERT: Last week I was called three times by three different callers informing me that I had won a lottery and a new car. In each case, I was informed that my new car and a cash prize would be delivered by a courier who was ACTUALLY in my neighborhood, and that a brand new car (as soon as I paid the taxes on my winnings) would be delivered on a flatbed truck to my address. As the saying goes, I was born at night, but not last night. Don't fall for this one. Hang up.
IDENTITY THEFT — 4 TYPES: Watch for these.
1. New account identity theft
2. Tax identify theft
3. Medical identify theft
4. Medical identity theft and Employment theft.
The best way to avoid these expensive traps is to NEVER give out personal information over the phone, and subscribe to a service like LifeLock (under $10 per month). Also, keep a close watch on bank and credit card statements, and always use a credit card — not a tele-check or debit card.
AREA CODE DANGER WATCH LIST: I know we've gone over this before, but here it is once again. 242: Bahamas, 441: Bermuda, 784: St. Vincent and Grenadines, 246: Barbados, 473: Grenada, Carriacou, and Petite Martinique, 809, 829, and 849: Dominican Republic, 264: Anguilla, 649: Turks and Caicos, 868: Trinidad and Tobago, 268: Antigua, 664: Montserrat, 876: Jamaica, 284: British Virgin Islands, 721: St Maarten, 758: St. Lucia, 869: St. Kitts and Nevis, 345: Cayman Islands, 767: Dominica.
BITCOIN UPDATE: Deutsche Bank recently warned its customers that Bitcom could soon crash to ZERO! Be careful out there. Don't speculate with money you can't afford to lose. My daddy always said, “Don't be greedy like a pig — we all know what happens to pigs — they get slaughtered.”
PAYPAL IS NO PAL: I've deleted my PayPal account. The reason is, regardless of what the website says, if you don't get what you paid for with PayPal, they will basically tell you “you're on your own.” Like a lot of things, PayPal is great when it works, and you're out of luck when it doesn't. There are too many safe ways to pay for items electronically. One that works sometime, we don't need. Delete your account, and never send your user name and password in email, or give it to ANYONE who calls you representing himself or herself as a PayPal employee.
REMEMBER BILL BROOKS: “He's On Your Side”
I have many more tips and interesting cases that I'm working on. Call me at (208) 699-0506, or email me at BillBrooksAdvocate@gmail.com or fax me at (866) 362-9266. (#GOGETEMBILLBROOKS) You can follow me at www. billbrooksconsumeradvocate.com. I am available to speak about consumerism to schools, and local and civic groups. Bill Brooks is a consumer advocate and the Broker and Owner of Bill Brooks Real Estate in Coeur d'Alene.