We had a gas water heater fail while under regular warranty. We finally gave up on Sears and paid a very responsive local plumber to diagnose and replace it.
The chapters along the way:
Called the 800# on a Saturday -- very frustrating language barrier with the call rep (India?).
Explained pilot had gone out and would not re-light. Earliest appt would be Tuesday AM(!)
Stayed home Tuesday, noone showed.
Finally got through to call center after noon. The first rep had written down my cell number with one digit off (invalid area code!), dispatcher got telco recorded message so just didn't show. Strike one.
Rep now offered Thurs AM appt. But this was Sears' mistake! We have no hot water! Strike two.
Called local plumber to come diagnose and possibly repair.
Wed 8am: local plumber shows up exactly on time. Says the gas control valve is faulty.
Wed: called various Sears numbers, getting redirected, but finally got speak to the dispatcher. Advised of the plumber's finding, and said we need a service tech to arrive the next day with that part. Don't show up for a wasted trip without the part.
Thurs AM: Sears tech showed up as scheduled. Very experienced, many years with Sears. Said he had three valves on the truck but none were the right size. Besides, it's really a failed burner assembly. But he'll order both, they'll be shipped to our house to arrive four days later(!), then they'll schedule a repeat visit to install them(!).
Told him we'd just pay the plumber to replace the unit. Strike three.
So if you can wait without hot water (or heat, or a refrigerator, or ...) for a week, then Sears will honor the warranty. We won't be having that problem in the future.