Returning Tools To Sears Should Not Be This Complicated

Oh, Sears. They sort of want to become a modern retailer, but don’t know how. They just can’t figure out this whole 21st-century retail thing. E-mail reminders? Returning items online that were purchased online? Too confusing. Too modern. Make it go away. Jim is the rare Consumerist reader who has no complaints about Sears, even though he actually shops there. But even he admits that his recent experience returning some Craftsman tools was needlessly complicated and required a lot more steps than it should have.

I’ve shopped at Sears for a number of years, despite all of The Consumerist’s horror stories. I really haven’t had any trouble with them. Including in this anecdote – they did do everything right eventually, it was just a very circuitous process.

I got it in my head that I wanted to do more woodworking, and so I bought myself a table saw and a drill press. The drill press was in stock locally, so I picked it up. The table saw was not, and I had it shipped. It arrived without issue 2 days later. No problems.

Fast forward a month and they’re still sitting in the box, and I have some buyer’s remorse. Clearly I haven’t used the tools yet, and they did cost a lot, and maybe I get can by with some cheaper options. Back to the store they go.

Easy enough, I thought – just go to the website and fill out that I wanted to return them. No dice. Return could not be processed, please call customer service. I hate talking to people. On a whim, since I picked up one item and shipped the other, I tried doing them separately. Voila! Processed separately, so now I had two return receipts. Annoying, but not a big deal.

Off to the store I go. I cart in the items and scan my first barcode and…nothing. It won’t acknowledge the barcode. Same on the other order. Okay, there are other ways to look it up. I scan my credit card, and lo! It finds them. Well, one of them. it finds the drill press. I return that.

The clerk comes out to pick it up and I explain that I actually have two things and question what to do. He tells me that the barcode on my sheet is just a sample code, for some reason and suggests I look up by phone number. No good, still only finds items I picked up in store.

I think to try looking up by order number, and find it in very very small type on the receipt. Success! It finds the other order, the guy rings it up for me and says he’ll be right back with the receipt.

He hands me one for the table saw, and directs me inside to get credit for the press. Pardon? Apparently, it needed to be punched into a cash register in the store. Into the store I trudge, and the employee punches it in and credits my card and I’m off. Whee.

A few days later, I get an email telling me that my return is about to expire. This is concerning, since I completed both returns (I thought). I check my statements to verify the money is there. The press is credited back, but not the table saw. The one that I thought was just credited straight to the card. Panic ensues. I dig back through my confirmation emails to find the one for the saw, and in the fine print am told that I will receive my money back via check within 7-10 days.

About a week later I receive my refund check. The next day I get another helpful email telling me my return is about to expire. I have no idea what refund they’re talking about.

So Sears really didn’t do anything wrong (other than those extra emails), and all of the clerks were very polite and helpful, and I did get all of my money back. But still. What a lot of hoops to jump through for something that should’ve been much much simpler.

At least this story ends happily, and Jim hasn’t sworn off Sears forever. I think that’s reserved for appliance purchases.