Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sears Sucks

I just had the most frustrating experience dealing with Sears. We've got a Weed Whacker and we need to get more cutting line for it. The unit was given to us by my wife's father and we don't have the manual, so I don't know what size line it needs. There are all kinds of variables - the line diameter, line length, one or two line feeds, etc. I checked, thinking I'd be able to find out this information. No such luck. The model Weed Whacker we have isn't listed. While they do offer spools of line online, they do not tell you which line goes with which model number (or if they do, they only list one model number, probably the newest one). So was unable to help me.

On the Weed Whacker, there is a phone number you can call if you have questions about the unit. So I called and I got transferred to the parts department. My call was answered by Eric. Before I could tell him what I wanted, he requested my name and phone number. I said you don't need that information to answer my question. He said he had to get it to pull up my information. I informed him I bought the unit with cash and there was no record of my purchase. He insisted, so I told him my name was Mr. Smith and my phone number was 480-555-1212. With the formalities out of the way, I told him what I needed. He asked for the Weed Whacker model number, which I gave him. He told me he found the part I needed and I could order it over the phone. I explained I needed it today and didn't have time to wait for it to be shipped. I just wanted the part number. He refused to give me the part number. He asked for my zipcode so he could check inventory at nearby stores and he found two stores that had it in stock. I said "Fine. What is the part number I need to look for when I go there?" Again, he refused to give it to me. He said I needed to give someone there the Weed Whacker model number and they would look it up. At this point, I asked to speak to his supervisor and he hung up on me.

So I called back. Once again, I got to the parts department and asked to speak to a supervisor. Patricia came on the line and I explained what just happened. She said Sears doesn't train it's employees to hang up on people (that's nice to know) and she got my model number and again looked up the info about the line. She also refused to give me the part number. She said part numbers change, which is why they don't give them out. Since I was going to buy the part today, I suggested it was highly unlikely the part number would change between the time she told it to me and a couple hours later when I went to the store to pick it up. Nevertheless, she refused to give it to me. Furthermore, she wouldn't even give me any information about the part, such as the line diameter, which I might be able to use to find the part myself. I told her she was most unhelpful and I would never be shopping at Sears again.

This is most unfortunate. I cannot believe that this type of anti-customer attitude exists today. I will go to Sears today and buy the replacement line, but I will note all the details about it and from this day forward, purchase it elsewhere. I have always bought major appliances at Sears - my washer and dryer are Kenmores, I have a Sears water softener, and I have many Craftsman tools. But given this kind of service, I don't think I'll be buying their stuff anymore.

Oh, and by the way, when I get back from the store, I'll have the below information filled in:

Sears Weed Whacker model number 358.799000 uses replacement line part number 7185837. This is a 30 foot long, 0.065 diameter line on a spool.


Steve said...

How wierdly ironic. My wife and I just purchased a high-end vacuum and lawn mower from Sears on Sunday. The vacuum salesman seemed a bit clueless on some things, such as the difference in what model 'A' and model 'B' came with. He said the difference was that model 'A' came with everything model 'B' came with, including some extras. I thought this strange, since model 'B' specifically says it comes with a cleaning kit, while model 'A' said no such thing. He assured me it did. We purchase model 'A' and go home. I open the box and lo-n-behold no cleaning kit. We also notice he charged us the list price and not the sale price ($20 difference - something we should have caught at the store, but were in a hurry). My wife calls back and the salesman tells us to come in to rectify the problem (i.e., credit us the $20 difference and give us a free cleaning kit). We are unable to go in that day, so he sets aside the information for us to get the following day, since he will be off. My wife goes there the next day, and gets the runaround from several people. She finally threatens to return everything for a full refund before they reluctantly give her the cleaning kit and refund. Total time wasted getting the runaround was 20 minutes, when it should have been -0-.

Totally unacceptable.

savvy saver said...

That's horrible, I can't believe they wouldn't give you the part number. We do buy most of our appliances from Sears and haven't had any trouble. I used to work at Best Buy in HS and college, and I won't shop there just because I know how they mistreat customers, but I'm sure the same kind of stuff goes on at all the big box stores.

Steve said...

BTW, after re-reading the details, my guess is that if they gave you the part #, there would be no assurance you would buy it from them. IOW, they either wanted you to buy it from them online, or go to their store to buy it. Getting you into the store could have meant additional purchases as well. However, instead of solidifying a loyal customer, they probably lost one now. My guess is they may give you a hard time when you go in the store, if you don't plan on buying the string there.

Shaun said...

Steve - That's the only possible reason I could come up with as to why they wouldn't tell me about the line. And you're right, in trying so hard to get me to buy a $5.99 part from them, they lost forever my future purchases of hundred dollar plus appliances. The location they had me go to wasn't even a full Sears store - it was a Sears Parts store.

Ken said...

As frugalgirl stated, you will find allot of this, expecially in the big boxes. Being a former part-time Craftsman slave (hand tools section and then shop tools section) for 5 years, their customer service training was relatively good, I thought. But store management and execution of the policy vary from store to store. Just like it pays to find a good REI team, its good to hookup with a good "big ticket" appliance salesperson at a store like Sears. Even if not shopping in his section, he can usually tip you off to who is good and who is not in most "big ticket" sections of his store. You may want to cross that particular store off your list, but I would suggest you consider carefully before you write off the entire company.

My two cents. I also wanted to say that I enjoy reading your adventures in REI. Very inspiring.

Scott said...

I found out how terrible Sears was a few years ago when I purchases new furniture for our family room from a company owned by Sears (I think it was called Home Life or something like that). They screwed up our order 3 times and never apologized. Then when the furniture came 7 months later, the idiot delivery boys slashed the leather couches when cutting the plastic off with their razor blades. Then set them in the room against the wall thinking we would not notice.

The next day I found it and called the store. They did not believe me and stated they needed proof. I snapped a few pics and printed them out. 20 minutes later I was in the showroom showing all the potential customers what had happened to me.

Long story short - my furniture was replaced within 1 week. I will never ever shop as sears (or anything owned by them) for as long as I live.

Oh, then they went out of business 3 weeks after we got out furniture. So much for a warranty.


Ken said...

Well, at least you've saved the rest of us this trouble.

After this weed whacker post, I noticed a Google ad in your adbar for the "Weed Thrasher," a $14 permanent attachment that works with any whacker.

You can't say those Google programmers aren't on their game.

Shaun said...

When I first made the post, ads for were showing up. I put those on my blocked advertisers list :-)

Shaun said...

I was going through my referrer logs and noticed someone got to this site doing a Yahoo search on "Weed Whacker part" (for which, surprisingly, this blog has the top 2 results). I hope they found what they needed and didn't have to bother Sears :-)

Anonymous said...

They don't give you the part number because they don't want people using their call center for phone support and buying somewhere else.

Totally lame -- how do I know? I used to work at sears and the stupid business people used to come up with this crap all the time. As an IT person I used to yell at them for it, but they were only thinking how to milk the customer for the most money possible.

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