No quick fix: Family struggles to get much needed lawnmower fixed

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jul 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-13 22:59:00-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. – Kenneth Smith loves his Craftsman lawnmower.

And through his job mowing local lawns, he was able to make a few dollars with it too. But not lately. The lawnmower attachment broke back in April – able to be fixed completely with a simple $20 part. One that local experts tell us is common on all riding lawnmowers.

But it hasn’t been so easy for Kenneth, who has special needs, and his mom Judy, to fix the simple issue.

The two purchased the mower a little shy of a year ago, under a two year warranty, from the Sears location at The Lakes Mall in Muskegon. The part, a PTO cable, broke back in April – and the process to get it fixed has taken months longer than it should have, according to Jerry Wiersma, president of West Michigan Small Engine Repair in Norton Shores.

“A PTO cable is a very common item to replace on a riding lawnmower,” said Wiersma. “It was backordered again, and again. And finally we were told that it was unavailable.”

Wiersma ordered the part after Judy brought it in following the lawnmower experiencing issues. He placed the order through an outside supplier, MTD – a company that supplies parts and builds machines for brands such as John Deere, Toro and Craftsman. Sears handles their parts supply through an internal unit, Parts Direct. That unit contacts the supplier, like MTD, for the necessary equipment needed by customers like Judy.

But after being backordered several times and cancelled, Jerry recommended that Judy take her issue to Sears directly. She did on June 9th, and was able to place an in-store order for the part, told it would arrive between July 3rd and 9th. It didn’t. And when Judy called to see what the issue was – she was again told the cable was unavailable.

Judy found herself caught in a communications web between MTD and Sears, one that has still yet to be resolved. Sears employees in Muskegon declined to comment today, so FOX 17 put in a call today to Sears’ Parts Direct. We were able to get Judy a note in to the offline team, who is contacting the manufacturer directly. We added our own line to her account, and expect to hear back from Sears in the next few days with a solution to Judy’s problem.

But in all, Wiersma said the burden should have fallen on the retailer all along.

“She bought this mower for her son to go out and make money with this device,” Wiersma said, “and he can’t do it. And so I think they should make it right with her since they’re the ones who made the profit off the sale of the equipment last year.”