Sears’s Definition Of ‘In Stock’ Differs From Reality

Matt needed a new refrigerator, and he needed one quickly. Well, his tenant did, and he needed to pay for it. He saw that Sears had one available for immediate delivery, and even advertised on their site that they could help consumers out in appliance emergencies. Sweet! Only their definition of “in stock” differs from the real meaning of that term. The refrigerator isn’t in their warehouse. They can’t deliver it. They’re waiting to get more from the manufacturer, and have to leave Matt and his tenant in limbo.

That’s pretty funny. “The really fun fact is I swung by the local Sears store at the mall,” Matt noted in his e-mail to us, “and they have one on the floor and in the box.”

I’m writing in regards to Order #[redacted] for a Kenmore 18.2 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator placed on Sears.com on the night of 01/23/2013. The website listed the refrigerator as in stock for delivery to [redacted] on 01/25/2013. This availability was an important factor in my selection of Sears.com for purchasing the refrigerator. I own rental units, and this refrigerator was intended to replace a failing one in a tenant’s unit. As late as last evening (6 p.m. on 01/24/2013), I received an automated phone call stating delivery would occur today (01/25/2013) between 1:50 and 3:50 p.m. Based on this, I coordinated with my tenant to access the unit and replace the refrigerator. This morning at 9:30 a.m., I received a phone call saying the refrigerator was late from the manufacturer, not in stock, and unavailable for delivery. This is in direct contradiction to the in stock availability advertised on Sears.com asserted at the time of purchase.

While this is extremely inconvenient, I can understand how there can be complications in logistics. What has me reconsidering this and future purchases from Sears is the inability to provide any information about a timeline for delivery of the ordered refrigerator or what inventory is available for delivery. When I got the call this morning, I inquired about availability of alternative items (i.e. same item in black). No one was able to identify what items are actual in the warehouse and available for delivery (preferably on the promised 01/25/2013 between 1:50 and 3:50 p.m. schedule).

The phone order operators and Sears.com website operate off the same item availability database that still claims ordered Kenmore 18.2 cu. ft. Top-Freezer Refrigerator is in stock and available for delivery (see first attached image). My order status remains in limbo, beholden to an unknown delivery schedule by a manufacturer (see second attached image). The best information that I can get is I should receive a phone call with a new delivery time in the next 24 to 48 hours. All the while, my tenant contents with a broken fridge. This contradictory information between website and warehouse inventory, coupled with a lack of any clear timeline for resolution borders on unacceptable levels.

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Sears has been my preferred source for appliances, I’ve purchased 2 other refrigerators, a stove, and a microwave in the last two years, but Sears will lose this and future sales if it can’t be relied upon to provide accurate and timely inventory, order, and delivery information.

Thanks to what he’s learned from reading this site, Matt was able to send a significantly less sarcastic complaint letter than his first draft. We hope that someone pays attention to him: when you sell appliances, you don’t want to alienate a dude who owns a bunch of houses.