How many times will retailers repair before replacing?

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A Surprise woman just wants a refrigerator that works and she's stuck in the "repair or replace" cycle. When should consumers be patient and when should they insist on getting another unit?

Many warranties lay out the terms for when the retailer will replace your appliance instead of trying to repair it. Usually it takes several failed repair attempts before they consider replacing but there's no magic number. That's why you need to build your case.

Judy Wiggins bought a Kenmore refrigerator at Sears in Surprise about a year ago. Right away, she noticed the refrigerator side ran way too cold and was damaging her food.

"It was freezing, I was throwing it away. The vegetables, which we use a lot of were frozen," Wiggins said.

Wiggins says, over several months, Sears has sent out repair techs six different times for the same freezing issue. She says none of the repairs have been successful and enough's enough.

"I'm a very patient person and I had, every time, hoped that it would take care of the problem," Wiggins said.

Wiggins says Sears paid for her lost food but continues to refuse to authorize a replacement unit, only additional repairs. The "no lemon" guarantee that comes with the Sears warranty implies units are replaced after three repair attempts for the same problem.

"I don't think it's fair that they take our time like this and if something is really wrong, they shouldn't fight it, they should replace it," Wiggins said.

Wiggins says Sears has been responsive but won't explain why they won't consider something other than another repair.

"I had all sorts of calls from Sears apologizing but they couldn't help me, so then they sent out another person," Wiggins said.

I asked Sears to give Wiggins' request for a replacement more consideration, they did, and they decided to replace it with a brand new and different model. They also extended her warranty for another two years. Our thanks to Sears for providing a quick and fair resolution to this dispute.

Whenever buying a warranty on an appliance, always specifically ask how many repair attempts the retailer, or their warranty provider, will make before replacing the unit. Try to get that answer in writing.

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Dave CherryCBS 5 Advocate Dave Cherry works to resolve your consumer problems and protect your money. If he can't help, he'll do his best to point you in the right direction.

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Dave Cherry
CBS 5 Advocate

Dave was born and raised in Philadelphia and considers himself one of the biggest Philly sports fans. At 6-feet, 5-inches, he's probably right! Dave started on a different career path before fulfilling his lifelong dream of reporting the news and helping consumers. Dave graduated from Philadelphia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting; he later earned an MBA degree in Finance from Temple University in Philadelphia. Dave also spent ten years as Vice President and Director of Sales and Marketing for two of America's leading real estate franchise companies. Dave started his 21-year news career at WHP in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as news anchor and reporter, then moved to KOLD in Tucson, as the morning news anchor. From Tucson, he went to KRON in San Francisco as a freelance news reporter before moving east to COMCAST in Philadelphia as a general assignment reporter. In the fall of 2003, Dave moved west and joined KPNX in Phoenix and spent nine years as the station Call for Action Consumer Reporter. Through his on-air advocacy work in 2011, Dave and his team were able to help consumers save more than $1 million. Dave joined CBS 5 News as our CBS 5 Advocate in December 2012. Dave is a vegan and likes to eat the amazing vegan food prepared by his lovely wife, Carmen. Dave's also a big Bruce Springsteen fan (he's seen more than 70 shows!), the man who inspired him to learn the guitar. Besides playing many of the boss' songs, Dave writes and sings his own songs and recorded a CD of original music.

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