In a major reversal of policy, Sears.com said it is changing its website today to no longer automatically add expensive five-year service contracts to major appliance purchasers’ orders without their prior approval. This move comes one day after ConsumerWorld.org, a consumer education website, charged that the company was slipping these high priced plans into customers’ shopping carts unrequested.
Consumer World’s founder, Edgar Dworsky, discovered in shopping for a French door refrigerator that Sears.com was automatically tacking on five-year service contracts whenever a major appliance was added to a shopper’s cart. “A $1299 GE refrigerator jumped up to $1774 when an unwanted $469 extended warranty and a $4.98 water hose were added to my cart without my consent,” explained Dworsky.
(Video of sample transaction before the change at http://www.consumerworld.org/pages/searsprs2.htm )
Now that the company has reversed course, Dworsky commented, “I am thrilled that Sears is doing the right thing by explicitly making their extended warranties an optional add-on if the customer requests one, as it should be, and as every other major seller of appliances treats them.”
According to sources, Sears.com apparently has been automatically adding service contracts to customers’ orders since 2010, and only recently started adding its most expensive plan — a five-year service contract – to shoppers’ carts by default.
The five-year service contracts vary in price ranging from a low of about $110 to over $550 in some cases. Though these extended warranties are easily removable from customers’ carts before their order is finalized, consumers who failed to detect the unrequested addition to their orders may have unwittingly overpaid for their appliances.
Consumer World urges Sears.com customers who purchased major appliances online since 2010 to review their orders and see if they were charged for a service plan that they never intended to purchase. If so, they should contact Sears at 1-800-549-4505 to request a refund.
Consumer World®, launched in 1995, is a public service, non-commercial consumer resource guide with over 2000 links to everything “consumer” on the Internet. Edgar Dworsky, an avid bargain hunter, is the founder of Consumer World, editor of MousePrint.org, an educational site devoted to exposing the fine print loopholes in advertising, and a former Assistant Attorney General in the Consumer Protection Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office.
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