Eric wrote to us this week with a tale of such epic dysfunction while trying to purchase air conditioners from Sears that there’s not much we can add to it. Inside: Imaginary deliveries, super-secret New York City surcharges, and the hazards of daring to order anything over the phone.
Here, with some information redacted, is the letter he sent to Sears. Eric is a reporter, and wrote a complaint letter that any of us here at Consumerist would be proud to call our own.
As of this afternoon, they have not responded.
I’m writing to you out of an unbelievable sense of frustration with my Sears experience. It’s an ordeal that’s given me such headaches that I’ve taken to Twitter to communicate with @SearsDeals just to see if I could get anywhere. No progress thus far.
On Tuesday of this week, my girlfriend and I ordered 2 air conditioning units over the phone and our order was place via Sears.com. We arranged for delivery and installation for Wednesday. We were told to await a call with a specific delivery time. My credit card was charged $552.
My girlfriend, Fleur, took the day off work to await arrival. By the afternoon, we hadn’t heard anything. Fleur called Sears and was told a) a hold had been placed on the order, b) the order was scheduled for pick-up, not delivery and c) the units weren’t even at the store. At no point did we receive any communication from Sears letting us know about a delay. We wasted an entire day, spent hours on the phone with various Sears departments and slept in a hot apartment.
The next day, Thursday, we started calling Sears again, hoping to finally get our units. We were told the hold was completely random and Sears was attempting to contact my bank to lift the hold. We were told we would be charged an extra $100 New York City/Manhattan surcharge that we had never once been made aware of when placing the order. We were told we would have to pay another $109 for installation of the second unit (apparently, we had been misinformed during the original purchase that the $109 fee covered both units).
Unsurprisingly, this came as quite a shock: after two days in which we did not get our delivery and installation as promised, nor did Sears made the tiniest effort to communicate with us about the delay, we were told we owed Sears another $200.
Fleur spent literally 3 hours on the phone today, bouncing from department to department in an attempt to get some answers as to why the Sears service so clearly broke-down, why we received no communication whatsoever from Sears and had to initiate all communication ourselves, and why no one could do anything to help us besides pass us along to the next person. Some, though not all, of these calls should be in the system with Fleur’s phone number [redacted]; not all of the phone reps made notes in the system, apparently.
By this evening, we seemed to be getting somewhere. The hold on the order had been lifted. We were told by one associate that Sears would split the Manhattan fee with us. Another told us we could receive a $100 gift card. This hardly compensated for the frustration and lack of air con units in our apartment, but it displayed a willingness and capability to address our customer service situation.
I also took to my Twitter account to message with SearsDeals about the situation. They responded quickly, gathered my contact info, and said the Sears Cares Team would be in touch. This has not happened yet.
Meanwhile, Fleur was still on the phone with various Sears reps, each making empty promises, shifting the blame to other departments, and then passing us along to the next phone rep. Lengthy on-hold waits ensued every time (by the way, would it hurt to have more than one song to play during these holds? That song will haunt our dreams). We were ultimately forwarded to a supervisor in the complaints dept who told us that there was no possible way to address our concerns, no cancellation of the fees, no rebate, no credit, no compromise, no possible way of addressing this days-long ordeal other than an apology. This was news to us.
We were also told that the Sears.com website indicated the buyer must beware of any additional fees that might apply. The only problem was that we made our purchase over the phone. Why we might then, upon hanging up the phone, choose to consult the website’s fine print was a question to which neither we nor the complaints supervisor could muster an answer. It seemed Sears had admitted the entire department devoted to taking orders via the telephone was, in the truest sense, ineffective, a waste of time, not worth the effort. If only we’d known.
The situation had descended into farce, a colossal customer service joke, an approach to customer relations that was so blithe, so dismissive, it defied reason. Fleur and I laughed as we sweated in our humid apartment.
I’d read on your website the following slogan: “When you purchase a product from us online, we know you’ll eagerly await its arrival. We’ll ensure its safe delivery and will keep you updated on its progress every step of the way. Some companies look at that as fulfillment. We look at it as fulfilling a promise.”
If that’s your motto, you have fallen woefully short. So now I am taking yet more time to write this letter to you in the hope that someone in your corporation will realize that we have been wronged and begin a process of finding an acceptable solution.
I look forward to your prompt reply.
Let me get this straight. They can put a hold on an order because the customer didn’t pay a fee that wasn’t disclosed to the customer, then hold the delivery indefinitely without telling the customer? Nice one, Sears.