PEABODY (CBS) — It’s a television you can’t buy in a store anymore and you probably couldn’t even give it away for free. But, a retail giant has been billing a Peabody senior citizen for an extended warranty on the TV for the last 15 years. That’s when his loyal neighbor reached out to the I-Team’s Call 4 Action.
“Joe’s been my next door neighbor for the last 24 years,” said Linda Hebert. She is the definition of a good neighbor. Linda checks in on Joe Pinto every day and the 86-year-old even leave messages for her in his window that she can see from her house. “He’s part of my family.”
Linda happened to be visiting with Joe recently when the phone rang, “Joe cannot answer the telephone since he is hard of hearing so I answered it,” Linda explained. “It was Sears calling, they were looking for Joe to renew his extended warranty.” That extended warranty was for a TV Joe bought in 2002.
“Well, my blood was boiling because I realized that TV is extremely old. You would not be able to replace that TV and he has spent a lot of money every year for an extended warranty.”
Receipts show that when Joe paid $289.99 for the 27″ Panasonic tube TV he also bought a 3-year warranty for $119.99. When that first warranty expired in 2005, Joe got a new bill and he paid it. “No questions asked,” Joe told us. That cost him $160 for another 3 years.
“They’re robbing the elderly people because they don’t know, they don’t understand, that they don’t have to pay that, ” Linda told us.
In, 2008 Joe continued to pay for the warranty but switched to a one-year plan. He paid every year until Linda happened to pick up that call from Sears.
So, over the past 15 years, as flat screens have taken over the market, Joe estimates he has spent almost $1,000 on extended warranties. That’s more than 3 times the original cost of the outdated TV. And it’s a service Joe has never needed.
Linda called Sears to complain about the bills and the calls, but she said Sears told her that extended warranties are non-refundable. “Then, I said ‘you’re not done with me yet,'” Linda explained with a laugh and she decided to reach out to WBZ.
When the I-Team’s Call 4 Action contacted Sears the company decided to refund Joe $200. In a statement, Sears told us “At Sears, our top priority is the satisfaction of our members. Our member solutions team has resolved Mr. Pinto’s situation. He will be refunded the last three renewal periods for his Repair Protection Agreement. The check should arrive in one to two weeks. We hope he remains a loyal Sears customer and Shop Your Way member.”
Linda isn’t so sure the issue is resolved, “to think about what he has spent and what they were offering to do… I’m still not too happy. Joe’s not too happy.”
Joe told us he hopes other people will now think twice when that bill automatically shows up in the mail, “I thought maybe this could help other people not to get in the same trouble as I am.”
WBZ asked Sears if they have a policy on ending extended warranties on outdated technology, like Joe’s TV, and the company did not respond.