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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