Come See The Softer Side of Sears’ Incompetence

There is something supremely satisfying about sticking it to a company when they make a mistake. Oh, we’re all human — as an Apple sales rep explained to me the other day, his voice pregnant with the sorrow of a heavy heart, “We’re not perfect.” And yes, capitalizing on an employee’s mistake is a bit petty: an employee who just wants to help you may lose their job over it.

Still, how many times have you made a small mistake and some company has just gleefully pulled your head back by your pretty hair and bent you over? We’ve all had it happen: a gas bill that is mistakenly delayed by a day, the wrong purchase accidentally made on a web site, whatever.

So we’re a bit conflicted on what we think about Kaje’s account of getting a brand new lawn mower at Sears for 70% off the marked price. Not that we think Kaje has acted immorally in the slightest: he clearly informed Sears before they let him leave the store that they’d given him a wrong mower and they just got snotty about it. And when they called him the next day, realizing their mistake, Kaje had already assembled the lawn mower… at that point, it’s pretty unreasonable to expect him to go through the effort of dismantling it because of a mistake Sears made. Still, we can’t help but feel bad for the employee who initially sold it to him… after all, he gave Kaje a hell of a deal, even if it wasn’t for the brand new mower Kaje ended up getting.

Kaje’s story is after the jump.

I have a Craftsman Lawnmower. It has worked well for years, other than the fact that it doesn’t mulch very well.

Strolling into the mall about a few weeks ago, we cut through Sears. On the way, I noticed that they had a few mowers on clearance. One of the mowers was a very nice model. Self-propelled, electric-start, 7hp, bagging/mulching, etc… It was a little dirty, but looked very new. Like a mower that had been used one time and returned. Now I didn’t need a new mower, but the price they had on it was 50% off retail. A sales associate came up to me, we talked about the mower, he said he would get the paperwork for it. After quite a few minutes, he returned and said he could not find the manual, or the key for the electric start. For the trouble, he said he would take another 20% off the price. I couldn’t pass it up. So I made the purchase. I asked the salesman if we could pick up the mower after we finished shopping. He said that was fine, since he had to get the mower over to the will-call area anyway.

We went about our shopping, then went to pick up the mower. I handed my will-call receipt to the attendant, then proceeded to wait about 20 minutes. Finally, the guy shows up with a mower. But its not the one I bought. This one looked brand new, except that the box was in bad shape and torn open. I told the guy that it wasn’t my mower. I said the one I bought was not in a box. He check my ticket, checked the numbers on the box, and told me it was the right one. I looked inside the box, and could see that some of the parts were still in plastic. So I again told the guy that my mower was a clearance item, that it had been opened, and was on the floor in the showroom. He got visibly irritated, checked the ticket again, and insisted that this was, in fact, the mower I had paid for. I asked him if he had re-boxed it? He got even more rude, said the salesman must have done it. Then he called over another employee. They discussed it, ignoring my suggestions that they call the salesman. The second guy came to the same conclusion. This was the mower that I had paid for. Knowing full well that it was not my mower, but letting my frustration get the best of me, I gave in and asked them to load it in my car.

When I got home, as I opened the box, I was quite sure this was a brand new lawn mower. It had manuals, the keys, and all the other accessories, all neatly bagged in cellophane. I had gotten a brand new lawn mower for almost 70% off. Great deal! I put it together, and happily cut my grass with my shiny new lawn mower.

The next day, I get a call from the salesman. He sounded very upset, and told me I had gotten the wrong lawn mower. I told him that’s what I thought, too. And I explained the situation to him. He was very uninterested, sounding like he did not believe me. I got the feeling he thought that I had stolen the lawn mower some how. He asked me to return the one I got. I told him I had already cut my grass with it, and there was no way I was taking it apart again. As I was ex planing that this one was now just as used as the one I had actually paid for, he hung up on me.

I don’t really even feel bad about it. A retailer that size should not only have much more skilled and professional customer service, but also a much better inventory control system.

I love the new mower – I think I might even check out the clearance sales on snow blowers next year!!

Oddly Satisfied Sears Customer,


Edit Your Comment

  1. any such name says:

    like the Pier One customer last week, Kaje doesn’t owe Sears shit! their mistake (after he told them several times that they were incorrect), not his problem. enjoy that mower! haha.

  2. retrothing says:

    It appears that the Sears loading dock employees made a mistake, and from the upset tone of the salesman’s voice, he’s the one who had to pay for it. Imagine for a second that the salesperson has been asked to pay out of his pocket or told that he’s losing his job.

    The honest thing is for Kaje to return the mower he *knows* he didn’t purchase. He seems to be justifying keeping it on the basis that he’s “screwing the man,” rather than realizing he’s probably screwing an individual who earns a fairly low salary. Thoughtless.

  3. Drinker Nisti says:

    Had a similar Sears experience with a completely different outcome: we were in the market for a new refrigerator. After carefully comparing prices & features on the various floor models at Sears, we settled on a Maytag with neat-o adjustable shelves. When the fridge was delivered, it was a much more basic model with no neat-o shelves. After a little web browsing and a trip back to Sears, we discovered that the wrong pricetag had been placed on the fancier fridge. The one we liked was a good $300 more (and out of our budget). We were pretty peeved at the (probably inadvertant) bait-and-switch, and were expecting accusations from Sears of swapping pricetags ourselves. Luckily, the same salesman was there, he remembered us, and prompty replaced our basic fridge for the fancy fridge, no additional charge.

    We went back a month later & bought a washer & dryer from him as well…

  4. Morgan says:

    Retrothing, I don’t quite agree with your analysis. The lawnmower is his; the company was given more than ample opportunity to correct it’s mistake. The “honest” thing to do would be to call Sears, ask for the salesman’s manager, and explain what happend to him. If he can remember the names of the attendant that refused to check with the salesguy (the one who really made the mistake here), so much the better, but it would be best if his boss understood who made the mistake. Kaje isn’t being dishonest by keeping the mower; he bought a mower, told the company representative that he didn’t think he was given the right mower, was assured multiple times by said representative that it was the correct mower, and, so assured, took his mower home. After that the mower was his and he had no obligation to Sears whatsoever; calling the manager would just be a nice courtesy to a salesman who seems to have treated him well.

  5. FredTheCat says:

    While I agree that the “right” thing to do would be to contact the salesman’s manager, the fact that said salesman hung up on him after he explained what happened would likely swing my vote to “screw him”.

    In any case, the mower is his.


  6. CMStrapz says:

    Additionally, as a former Sears associate (I sold all manner of appliances/electronics/vacuums/etc), I can assure you that (1) this happens ALL THE TIME, but usually doesn’t result in a call to the customer (very inappropriate), and (2) the salesperson would most certainly not be expected to pay for this mistake, nor would he lose his job… the company would eat it. There is a specific code that the salesperson must put into the register to let the stock people know to come to the sales floor for a product… he just put in the code that signifies a fill from stock. Could happen to anyone.

  7. L_Emmerdeur says:

    Or the salesperson could offer to make things right by taking his own personal time, bringing the correct mower to the customer’s home and retrieving the new mower. You make the mistake, you do the work to correct it.