Sears Epic Pricing Error Leaves Hundreds With Canceled Snowblower Orders

A too-good-to-be-true deal that turned out to be a Sears pricing error got posted to Slickdeals.net — and you can imagine the hilarity that ensued as hundreds of people tried to order snowblowers (sometimes 5 at a time, to resell on craigslist), only to be turned away when they tried to pick them up. According to the 1000-some comments on the slickdeals thread, some people did manage to pick up their item before Sears caught on, but reader BJ was not one of them. In fact, instead of being honest and explaining the error, BJ says Sears lied to him.

BJ says:

I thought you would like to know about another Sears.com fiasco that is currently in progress.

On Sunday night I was looking for a snowblower online to replace my older one. I came across what I thought was a great deal at sears.com, they were offering 50% off on a few select snowblowers for Craftsman Club members, of which I have been for a long time. Not all snowblowers were included in the sale, but I found one that would more than do the job I needed it for, so I placed my order.

I received my confirmation email that the order was placed and to wait until the store was open to receive another email that it was ready for pickup. On Monday morning I received the email stating that my purchase was ready for pickup. While I was getting ready to go pick up said snowblower, I received a call from the store that I was picking it up at that they were canceling my order because they have over sold the snowblower.

My reply to the person from Sears on the phone was something like, “That doesn’t seem right as I have received an email telling me it is in stock and ready for me to pickup.” His response was something like “Well my store manager told me to call and let you know that you are not getting a snowblower as they have been over sold.”

He was at least polite and stuck in a situation that I am sure he wasn’t to happy to have to do. I figured something was going on so rather than argue on the phone, I thanked him for the call and hung up. I went to sears.com to check the status of the order and it still showed as valid and ready for pickup. I then checked my credit card and found that there was a charge pending on my account for the sale.

After doing some research online I ended up in the forums at slickdeals.net where they are over 900 comments on this particular sale. Some people were able to pickup their ordered snowblowers while others were denied at the store. Almost everyone that was denied was told it was a pricing error and corporate told the stores not to honor the sale. Other stores either didn’t get the message or sold the snowblowers anyway to people for the 50% off. Well after reading all of this, I decided to wait as I no longer had the time to go and try to pickup the snowblower anyway. Throughout yesterday I kept reading the forum to see what other peoples experiences were, and it obviously varied greatly. Some got the snowblower, others were denied.

Well this morning I got an email from sears.com and I am forwarding it to you. They have officially cancelled my order and the reason given was due to the store I was picking it up at is unable to fulfill my order. Having followed this all day yesterday, I know they are not being truthful here. By checking online as of 9:30am 01-05-2010, I can clearly place an order for the snowblower at full price, and it shows in stock and ready for pickup. So why tell me they cannot fulfill my order when they clearly can? If it was a pricing error then tell me that, don’t lie to me.

The things that are most disappointing are:

1. They are trying to cover up a price mistake online that they do not want to honor. Fine, but don’t lie about it.

2. They charged my card, and first sent me a sales confirmation and then a pickup ready confirmation. Then they called and lied to me about why they would not honor the sale saying it was over sold. If I can order one and pick it up at full price then it is clearly not over sold.

3. They emailed me a cancellation a full day later and lied to me again, saying the store could not fulfill the order when it clearly can, just not at the price they have charged my credit card for.

4. I like to shop at Sears, however I don’t like to be lied to twice, and charged for a product they will not allow me to have. I now have to wait for them to refund the charge.

Let me just say this, my garage is full of Craftsman Power and regular tools, tool storage cabinets, and tool boxes. In my barn sits a Craftsman 52″ zero turn tractor bought last April, and a Craftsman dump cart. I also have a Kenmore Duel Fuel stove and many other appliances from Sears. My family wears Lands End clothes and shoes/boots from Sears. Our kids Christmas photos are taken every year at the Sears portrait studio. Oh and by the way, the snowblower I was looking to replace is also a Craftsman.

I certainly understand that mistakes happen. Am I disappointed that I didn’t get the snowblower that many others were able to get? Sure I am, but I am mainly disappointed that Sears outright lied to me about it on the store (phone call) and corporate (email) level. Be honest and tell me it was a price mistake.

Honesty may have kept a customer in this case, but lying to me twice is completely unacceptable.

We agree that Sears shouldn’t have lied, but we also understand why they may have done so. There seems to be a pervasive urban legend that stores “are required by law” to honor pricing errors, and the sales person may have been tired of being yelled at.

If it were any other store but Sears, we’d suggest contacting executive customer service to explain that you didn’t appreciate being lied to — but honestly — the Sears/Kmart hybrid beast doesn’t care. We have yet to find functional executive customer service contact information for the company, and suspect that it doesn’t actually exist.