As Jan of Ward, AZ told consumeraffairs.com: "In June 2005, we purchased a Kenmore refrigerator with ice[maker]. Within six months, the technician had been to our house four times; Right now the total is 11 times."
A lawsuit has been filed against Sears in Illinois alleging that Sears is using unlicensed plumbers to install the refrigerators and requesting the courts to order Sears to discontinue this practice.
Many of these unlicensed plumbers have installed waterlines to the icemakers using self-piercing saddle valves, violating the Illinois State Plumbing Code.
Saddle Valves Prohibited in 10 States
In addition to Illinois, the following states also prohibit the use of self-piercing saddle valves for the installation of refrigerator ice-makers: Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, and Vermont. In these states, a tee and globe, gate, or ball valve is used instead.
Cost to Consumers
Self-piercing saddle valves tend to reduce water flow, causing them to become clogged and leak. These leaks may cause extensive damage to floors, walls and other infrastructure. They can also lead to risky, wet conditions in kitchens. Other concerns related to leaks include bacterial contamination in waterlines and chemical seepage into the water.
Unlicensed contractors may use self-piercing saddle valves because they can be installed without expensive plumbing tools. The valves work by using a clamp to put a hole in a water intake pipe, and are generally used only where a low volume stream is needed.
According to one licensed plumber, self-piercing saddle valves are a thrifty work-around "for plumbers who don't have the right tools." They are ineffective for icemaker installation, he says, "because the valves don't allow enough volume. Leakage is almost inevitable."
Customer Service Difficulties
Many consumers feel that their concerns are not being listened to. As Marie of Cranford, NJ told consumeraffairs.com: "I've spoken to at least four reps from Sears National and Sears Home Central today. They kept shuttling me back and forth between them, each claiming the other was responsible. I'm still waiting for a callback."
Difficulties with customer service are the last thing that customers need, many of whom are facing expensive losses. As Melanie Anderson told complaints.com: "I've read other complaints and see I am not alone. We are not rich, and an expense like this is paid for monthly, likely via charge! We will never again purchase another Sears big ticket item."