Sears Offer To Mail Customer Missing Key To Floor Model Snowblower

Aaron visited Sears to pick up a new Craftsman snowblower he bought for 10% off on, but the store only had one floor model in stock. Aaron agreed to take the unit after staff assured him that it came with a warranty, manuals, and all the things normally bundled with new snowblowers. Of course, Sears couldn’t find either the manual or the keys. A salesman promised that “Ray from Lawn & Garden” would mail the key whenever he returned, an offer Aaron refused. The salesman then offered a key from another snowblower, promising “the keys are basically universal.” That key didn’t work because, as a different associate later discovered, the unit was missing its electric start socket.

Aaron writes:

Dear Consumerist,
I recently purchased a Craftsman snow thrower from during an online 12-hour 10% off sale. I selected the store pickup option as the website stated that my local Waterford, CT Sears had this model in stock. Well, later in the morning the local department clerk called to inform me that the only available unit of that model snow thrower was a floor model. The clerk told me that this was last years model that had been reduced and he could possibly get me a bigger discount if I agreed to continue with the purchase & take the floor model. Now the clerk tries to apply a larger discount on top of the ten percent I’ve already received but can’t, the computer is telling him that I’ve already reached my limit on discounts on this sale. Ok, I’ve received the 10% from the 12-hour sale then another $5 discount for signing up for emails. Fine, I decide to take the unit anyway as long as the unit is complete, manual, keys, etc…

Cut to later the next morning, Waterford, CT Sears. During my lunch break I leave the office to drive to the store to pick up the machine. I first stop by the Lawn & Garden dept to confirm that the snow thrower does in fact carry all the relevant warranties and is not an ‘as-is’ purchase. The clerk, different from the one I talked with the previous day, confirmed that the unit is not an ‘as-is’ sale and the unit carries all associated warranties. Fine, I head up to merchandise pickup. He further confirms that the unit was assembled two weeks ago and everything is upstairs waiting for pickup.

Upstairs, merchandise pickup:
Two associates very promptly bring out the machine, just the machine, and no user manual. I tell the associates that I will not accept the unit without all relevant accessories. They go back into their area and leave me for about ten minutes. This time one associate returns with user manual but he tells me that he can’t find the key to start the machine. I am left waiting for another ten minutes, at least. He comes back with a plan that Ray from Lawn & Garden will “mail me the key” when he gets back from his day off. I tell the associate that this is unacceptable. I will not accept the unit unless it is complete. Take it off the truck and do what you will with it, just refund my money. The associate tells me that it will get “complicated” if I refuse the unit and he heads back to further search for the key; further leaving me hanging for another ten minutes and making me late for an appointment. After another ten minutes he returns with the key from another model Craftsman snow thrower and tells me that the keys are basically universal. He leaves and I take the key & go to the truck to try it in my model. It doesn’t fit.

As it turns out there were two other merchandise pick up associates walking by as I was on the truck trying out the key. They walk over ask if it’s working. I explain that it isn’t. They both look at the machine & notice that the unit is missing a critical piece of equipment that fits onto the electric start socket. The machine will not start with out this piece. I thank them & tell them to remove the snow thrower from my truck. The associate processes the order as a return & I leave extremely unsatisfied.

Now, there’s a sign hanging up at merchandise pickup that states if the associates don’t have your order out in five minutes then you’re entitled to a $5 coupon good on a future purchase. I take this into account when I email about my experience. The following day the operation manager from Waterford Sears contacts me and apologizes for my inconvenience. She offers me a new in box unit (apparently they found one sitting around) for $499, discounting it $90. I tell her this is untrue, as I paid $526. She puts me on hold & comes back with her final offer of $489. So it’s not $90 off, it’s $37 off.

$37 off, for my trouble. Thirty-seven dollars. I was lied to by the lawn & garden clerk, waited at merchandise pickup for upwards of forty minutes, drove forty five minutes round trip to borrow a pickup truck to haul the snow thrower, took over an hour off of work. Oh, and my eight month pregnant wife was with me the whole time waiting. I decline her offer & email national customer service to have a regional manager contact me. Nothing, not even a reply.

Thanks for nothing. So long Sears.

(Photo: Getty)


Edit Your Comment

  1. aerick79 says:

    Sorry man, This happens why to offen. The only thing that you should learn from this is not to buy a floor model.

    • geckospots says:

      @aerick79: Last year we bought a floor model TV from Future Shop, and not only did they bend over backwards giving us discounts on it (it was a Sony Vega and I think they were just trying to get rid of it for more space for flatscreens), they also threw in the warranty for free, and got the guys from the car stereo installation to help us move our seats around so we could fit it in to the back seat (we drove a tiny Golf at the time).

      Floor models aren’t always a poor bet – Aaron got crappy service because the staff at Sears didn’t care enough about losing the sale to do better. I wouldn’t have been surprised to hear the same story with a new snowblower.

      • ooolam says:

        @geckospots: Yup… floor models are not that bad. I’ve got a floor model Craftsman Lawn Vacuum at K-Mart for only $225. The original price was $620. Before I bought it, I made sure the owner’s manual was there, and then I checked if all the items listed on the owner’s manual were there. It was such a good deal and it saved me hours of raking in the lawn. The associate who helped me was also very helpful. He gave me an extra bottle of oil and helped me to load it to the van. I guess Sears / Kmart is not all that bad, or maybe I just got lucky?!

  2. MyPetFly says:

    SEARS = Some Employees Are Really Stupid

  3. parad0x360 says:

    Target has great deals on floor models. I got a 26 inch widescreen samsung 720p hdtv for $120 a few years back.

    First it goes on clearance, then when all box stock is gone they sell the floor model, if you ask they will take an additional 30% off the clearance price, and they should have everything that comes with the TV new plus it still has Targets 90 day return policy on it and the normal warranty on top of that.

    Now I know they dont sell snowblowers…yet but im you are looking for a good deal check Target when its time for a season switch.

  4. coren says:

    How is this a positive ending? He didn’t get the snow blower, he didn’t get a discount, and in the end he wasted a bunch of his time standing around

  5. allthoseships says:

    maybe next time he should just buy a shovel and a bag of ice salt.

  6. malefactor says:

    The last time I ever shopped at sears was when I passed through it to go into a mall. I saw a floor model wood planer at a reasonable discount; I purchased it because I was in the market for one and it looked ok.

    The 18 year old clerks assured me it worked fine, just needs a plastic key. Any problems? Suuure.. Bring it back.. we don’t mind.

    I take it to an authorized dealer/repair shop who informs me, nope, broken switch. $35. Kills the deal, and ticks me off because the 18 year olds lied to me. I return it to Sears, who now is coming up with every excuse they can muster to not take it back. Apparently, by unscrewing a broken switch, *I must have broken it* and policy, blah blah blah. Ask for manager. 20ish year old manager comes out and starts giving me the same crap. I point out his employees lied to me; he says that can’t be. I point to the guy who did (behind us), who promptly approaches and lies again.

    I barely got out of this by going to a different sears, lying about what happened and returning it. Sears, if you’re reading this, you’ve lost a customer for life by having employees that behave this way.

  7. SuffolkHouse says:

    Evidently, service is only something provided in upper-class retail outfits. The only business model that seems acceptable to the dinks who run these things is one that views service and customer care as excess.

    Then I wonder, how can a person insist upon an absurd amount of discounts on a product and not expect the corporation to cut somewhere.

  8. Keter says:

    Really, if you are going to do the “floor model” thing anywhere, you have to know how to check things out for yourself and where you’ll be willing to draw the line on whether something is sufficiently complete to accept it.

    My strategy: if it’s broken and I can’t fix it myself (for sure, like replacing a cut-off cord or broken handle) for a few dollars, I won’t buy it. I don’t care about manuals, those are usually available online anyway (very certainly so from Sears!). I do care whether there’s a warranty, get it in writing if there is one, and ask for a better discount if there isn’t one and the price seems like it could come down some more.

  9. wagnerism says:


    The manuals aren’t always online. Some have to be ordered online. I paid $14 for a manual for a used riding lawn mower.

    Use that tidbit to knock off another $15 to get the manual :)

  10. Dyscord says:

    So from what I understand, after all the trouble, they offered the OP a brand new model for cheaper than he paid for the old model, though albeit not by much.

    I understand the trouble he went through to get there, but in the end he was offered a brand new model cheaper than for the floor model.

    I don’t understand why he didn’t take it. Unless I’m missing something

    • s25843 says:


      Exactly what i’m trying to figure out.

      Sears offered him a brand new model for cheaper than the floor, and he refused. Sounds like Sears tried to help him, and he turned them down.

    • amuro98 says:

      @Dyscord: understand the trouble he went through to get there, but in the end he was offered a brand new model cheaper than for the floor model.

      I don’t understand why he didn’t take it. Unless I’m missing something

      Two reasons:

      1: His original discount was 10%. The item was $526, so he should have at least gotten it for about $474. Instead, the clerk only offered a $37 discount – much less than the ~$52 he had already been promised.

      2: The store had a posted policy that if they made you wait more than 10 minutes for an order, they would give you an additional discount. Again, the clerk’s proposed discount was substantially less.

      So in short, Sears screwed up, wasted a bunch of the Poster’s time, and then didn’t even want to honor their original agreement on the price for the snow blower.

  11. BlondeGrlz says:

    HA this is my Sears. In March, they were unable to sell us a table saw. They couldn’t sell the floor model, it wasn’t available online, and they’re store computers “wouldn’t let them” order one. So we bought it at the Lowe’s down the street.

    My first thought was dude, I know it’s New England, but you certainly don’t need a snowblower right now. A raincoat, yes. Snowblower, no.

  12. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I don’t understand why he didn’t take the new one for $489. I can certainly sympathize with him for being frustrated, although as others have pointed out, this is quite often just part of the Sears experience.

    Personally, I find shopping at Sears unpleasant even if the sale *does* go well because their salespeople are all over you like a pack of rabid leeches trying to sell you their expensive models and useless service contracts.

  13. Altdotweb says:

    Well played with the mention of the pregnant wife.

    Well played…

  14. bobpence says:

    I think the ‘positive outcome’ was realizing that Sears has gotten to the point where they are unable to sell things that people want to buy.

  15. r0ydster says:

    The worst part of this story will be when his tires on the snowblower go flat, and he realizes that these units have been engineered to not allow the owner to work on them. He will either have to take it in to a service center, wait about 3 months and get new tires, or rig something up.

    Happened to me and when I was using it, the tire was flat and it came off the wheel. It is difficult to fix, especially in a foot of snow.

    My new rule: Don’t shop at sears, it just aint’t worth it.

  16. Ouze says:

    @altdotweb – actually, i found the “pregnant wife” thing to be overdone, irrelevant invective. If your wife is 8 months pregnant, and you take her on errands where you wind up waiting around 45 minutes, it’s not 100% sear’s fault. Sure, no question they should have been faster, but if she became uncomfortable and wanted to leave, should have left – I don’t think there are many retail establishments that I’d wait around with no visible progress for more then 15-20 minutes before just canceling whatever transaction was not progressing and moving on or coming back some other time – and that’s when I’m alone. I think effective arguing with large corporations is best when short, concise, and strictly to the relevant facts.

    Still, if he never shops at Sears again, I’d call it a happy ending!

  17. u1itn0w2day says:

    Yeah the pregnant wife thing was melodrama.But on the other hand maybe that’s why he’s buying a snowblower ahead of season.With a newborn on the way he wants all contingencies covered for the mother and child.

    After all he went through I’d be holding out for more than an additional 10$ off of 500$.

    I’d let his pregnant wife make the call-‘deal or no deal’.

  18. explodeder says:

    It sounds to me like the sears manager was being entirely fair to him. Every problem he had (face it: problems happen), Sears came back with a solution.

    Having worked as a manager in retail situations, it sounds like this is one customer who is looking to be angry, and will never be happy. Was he wanting them to give him the floor model for free? It doesn’t make sense.

    Oh, and why was his pregnant wife with him on his lunch break?

  19. vdragonmpc says:


    I agree, I love that the sears employee last christmas sold my wife a Sears Craftsman Professional Series circular saw for my limited home use. It cost way more than a regular saw and really isnt worth the extra cost.

    Oh yes and for Professional model hardcore usage? The case handle broke off moving it from the christmas tree to the garage!!! WOW GO GO SEARS QUALITY!

    Wait! Theres more.

    I got a killer deal on a socket set from dealcatcher. I buy it pick it up and go home to proceed putting all the sockets into their places in the case (they are all bagged and piled into the box instead of being sorted) One of the sockets (half inch drive) was wrong. No size marking and was a different type of socket. They wanted to exchange the entire kit when I just needed the one socket. In the end better senses prevailed and the socket was exchanged for just the one bad one.

    Sears is buyer beware for sure.

  20. Mr_Magoo says:

    More dittos on the discount – He says his discounted price for the floor model was $526 after 10% off and $5 off. This means the original price of the machine was $589. The Sears manager offered him a new one for $499, which is $90 off, even though he says it was only $27 off. She ended up offering it to him for $489, which is 17% off, and he still didn’t take it. How much of a discount did he want?

    I think he’s been spending too much time around his 8 month pregnant wife…

  21. MrEvil says:

    Seems like the Manager’s offer was more than fair. Aaron probably could have also bargained for free home delivery. But alas, he seems like the type of customer that wouldn’t be satisfied if you gave it to him for free.

    People just gotta learn that when a store screws up like this it shouldn’t be taken as some kind of personal attack. Its a screw-up, no it shouldn’t happen, but honestly when the store comes back to apologize with a better offer than what you originally wanted, I wouldn’t be looking a gift horse in the mouth.

  22. jorywoah says:

    Things like this should not be purchased at department stores, but authorized dealers. $400+ is a lot of money to spend on clearing snow, if the customer had visited a store specializing in outdoor equipment they would have surely been more satisfied They can’t even sell the product properly, how do you think they will do at maintaining or repairing it? Sears usually does NOT perform the service work – they ship it out…for weeks…would have been an issue, taking a floor model and all.

  23. Jeneni says:

    “Take it off the truck and do what you will with it, just refund my money. The associate tells me that it will get “complicated” if I refuse the unit and he heads back to further search for the key;”

    Oh I didn’t realize “complicated” was another way of saying “I’m getting a commission for this”