Brian Manages To Replace His Rusty Craftsman Sockets At Sears

When we broke off from our Sears Craftsman warranty saga last Friday, Brian had been told there were no replacements on tools that have rust on them, which wasn’t what Sears told us the last time we had warranty questions. Over the weekend, Brian found more evidence that Sears can’t get its warranty language straight. But there’s some good news, too: he dressed up a little, cleaned off the sockets, and went back to Sears. This time he got a different associate who seemed to have no problem swapping out the tools, and who never mentioned the supposed “three per day” rule.

While Brian was looking for warranty information online, he came across this email from a Sears rep in 2005 who states that “The guarantee is not limited to the original owner.” This is not what Judy, the woman he spoke with last week, told him.

One of the many times I was on the phone with Sears, I was told the reasoning behind their policy on rust. They said that customers were buying Craftsman tools at flea markets and returning them for new ones, which isn’t allowed. They told me that the warranty was not transferable (this was Judy).

So now we have conflicting information on two different topics: whether or not rust invalidates the warranty, and whether or not the warranty extends beyond the original owner. In both cases, the more consumer-friendly version is from the past, which may indicate that Sears has decided to retroactively change the terms of its “lifetime warranty” without announcing it officially.

On Saturday, Brian says he received an email from Sears that told him “to clean the rust off of the sockets, and then they will be acceptable under the warranty.” He did that, and brought them back to Sears later that day, and it worked:

There are a lot of factors to consider: I was dressed nicer, I got a different associate named Bill, I had cleaned off some rust, they were busy, or it could have been a corporate memo defining “Lifetime,” but regardless, today I successfully exchanged 5 of the 9 sockets for new replacements. Bill didn’t even bat an eye, even considering there was still rust on the inside of the sockets. No mention of the three per day limit either. Could it be I just got the Sears version of Adolf the first time around? Either way, I still think I’ll stick with another brand next time I need a tool.

“Sears Can’t Get Its Story Straight Regarding Rust And Craftsman Tools”
“Craftsman’s ‘Lifetime Warranty’ Depends On Tool Associate’s Mood”


Edit Your Comment

  1. TurboWagon00 says:

    Godwin’ed Consumerist article ? Nice.

  2. gttim says:

    I was in Sears with for my grandmother Saturday, and was looking at the Craftsman tool kits. I need one for general repairs as I need a small tool box to carry to my grandmother’s, mother’s and sister’s houses. They had 2 that might have worked, but I think I will go with Kobalt instead. I have mostly Craftsman now, but Sears seems to be having issues.

  3. wickedpixel says:

    …today I successfully exchanged 5 of the 9 sockets for new replacements.

    why not the other 4?

  4. ncpeters says:

    How could Sears enforce limiting the warranty to the original owner? A receipt is not required when a tool is exchanged, so I would assume the only way of finding out would be to ask and hope the person is honest.

  5. logicalnoise says:

    @wickedpixel, liek he said before he had a a generic pile of sockets too messed up to use. They all had rust on them but some had rounded angles which made them useless. So it looks like teh just rusted ones were rejected and his actual non functioning sockets got replaced.

  6. ThickSkinned says:

    All the more reason to spend a little more and get Snap On tools. I’ve slowly been replacing my Craftsman with Snap On over the past few years. It is going to sound odd, but the Snap On’s just feel better in my hands.

  7. Borax-Johnson says:

    It seems like Sears might catch a little less grief if they’d post the warranty somewhere. They sure pump it in their tool ads, but try to find it.

    Does anyone have a copy of it to post?

    • cortana says:

      @Borax-Johnson: As soon as you post it you have to follow it. Sears does not like being held to policies that you can see.

    • bravohotel01 says:


      From the Sears Canada website ( [] ):

      “CRAFTSMAN® mechanics tools and CRAFTSMAN® hand tools have a Lifetime Warranty… they are guaranteed forever …unconditionally, no questions asked. If one should ever fail to give you complete satisfaction, Sears will replace it, free of charge.*

      A proof of purchase is not necessary to replace a tool. All that is necessary is that the “Craftsman” name is stamped on the tool. A 5 digit number located on the tool is required.”

      I was unable to find such a statement on the Sears US website, so I emailed customer service. This is the response I received:

      From: Sears Feedback (
      Sent: Sat 3/14/09 3:22 PM
      To: ******* (***@****.***)

      Dear Mr. *****,

      Thank you for contacting

      The lifetime warranty is meant to protect the customer in the event that a tool is defective or breaks under normal use. It is not meant to cover tools that are damaged/destroyed/lost due to fire, water, theft or other natural causes. Rust is not covered by the warranty.

      Unfortunately, not all Craftsman tools are covered under the lifetime warranty. A general list of Craftsman tools that are covered by the lifetime warranty would include ratchets, sockets, wrenches and screwdrivers. Some tools that are not covered by the lifetime warranty (even though they are Craftsman branded) are: taps, dies, saw blades, drill bits and torque wrenches.

      Our hand tools have always had a lifetime warranty. Other Craftsman products such as power tools, lawnmowers, and test equipment have never had a lifetime warranty. There have been a few instances where products outside the hand tool family have been given lifetime coverage based on the manufacturer’s promise to replace or reimburse Sears if the product fails. As the worldwide business climate changes, some of these manufacturers have closed their factories, outsourced production, or changed their business practices. This has forced us to re-evaluate our warranty position on products that are outside the hand tool family. We will continue to bring high quality tools with lifetime warranties to market at the best price we can offer and hope to continue to fulfill your expectations of quality and value from the Craftsman brand.

      Linda N.

      Sears Customer Care

  8. Doug81 says:

    While on the topic of tool companies with lifetime guaranties, does anyone have any experience with Lowe’s and their Kobalt tools as far as replacement goes? I’ve been considering them as of late with Sears’ reputation getting worse.

  9. wallspray says:

    It seems foolish to me to give up on 3 generations of tool loyalty because you ran into a small problem that was eventually made right.

    • Sian says:

      @wallspray: 3 generations of tool loyalty doesn’t mean much when you look at Sears and the real possibility that they may not be around much longer to honor said lifetime guarantees. The difficulties are all pointing towards a company in financial trouble that may soon go the way of Circuit City.

    • TheBursar says:

      @wallspray: I’m thinking: It seems foolish to me to give up on 3 generations of customer loyalty because of a few dollars in tools and an unclear lifetime warranty policy.

  10. MikeHerbst says:

    As for the definition of “Lifetime” with respect to the Craftsman warranty, the sad fact is that it SHOULDN’T matter. Back in the old days, Craftsman had a FOREVER warranty, which specifically distinguished that the tool war warrantied forever, not for the lifetime of the original owner.

    I’ve inherited some of my grandfather’s tools from the 40’s and 50’s and successfully replaced broken items from them in the past. This original policy is also partly why I’ve preferred Craftsman vs. Husky because the “lifetime” warranty on Husky tools is supposedly limited to original owners only.

    These days, though, not only is exchanging the Craftsman tools getting harder, but the quality of the replacements is getting worse. My 5/8″ six-point socket from my grandfather lasted about 45 years, through my uncle’s two Model-A rebuilds, and countless other projects. When I finally rounded it on some long forgotten project it was replaced with a socket that lasted barely two years before it too got rounded and needed replacing. I’m on my third or fourth socket in that size now.

  11. tc4b says:

    If they can’t be counted on to honor their warranty (and who knows, if they don’t even have the balls to post for all to see?) then it can’t be a factor in my decision making when I’m buying tools. I’d rather either buy tools I a) expect to last, which is not craftsman, or spend the money on those I expect to last.

  12. suburbancowboy says:

    Three generations of loyalty to a brand that doesn’t really exist anymore. Sears is owned by f’ing K-mart. The tools are no longer Made in the USA. Why be loyal to a brand that isn’t loyal to its country?
    We desperately need to keep manufacturing jobs in this country, or the economy will never recover.

  13. b612markt says:

    I’m so glad the OP went back and tried again. This tactic has worked for me too. Also, acting dumb and being really really really nice works too.

  14. mike says:

    In case you didn’t know, a lot of Stanley tools have lifetime warranties on them. I called Stanley and gave them the model number. They are sending me a replacement. They don’t need the old one back.

    I kind of wondered how they weed out the people who just want a free tool.

    • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

      @mike: They might just assume that most people aren’t aware of this. Maybe they make plenty off of sales and can afford the occasional sleazeball looking for a free tool to keep their customers happy and, more importantly, buying from them again.

  15. NTC-Brendan says:

    Good work OP. Glad it worked out. Persistence pays.

    Sears has dramatically changed business models over the years. They are not a retail/department store as much as they are a credit card clearing house. The merchandise on the shelves has become secondary to signing folks up for in-store credit.

    Sad really but that is partially the cause of some of these warranty issues. The merchandise and customer satisfaction take a backseat to getting those cards in people’s wallets.

  16. Trencher93 says:

    Different associate is probably the key to it, getting someone with a clue and common sense.

    During Christmas, I was in Sears, and a man was trying to get service on what looked like a electric concrete saw. He was an older man who had obviously been a lifetime customer. They were giving him the receipt runaround. I was about to give up on making a purchase (the time it would take to resolve this and get to me in line would have exceeded the time I had to wait) when someone opened a second register.

    I know the absolute WORST time you could possibly go to Sears for Craftsman service is during the holidays when they hire temporary help for the registers. Those people combine clueless with unmotivated.

    True stories: Charged twice for one pair of channel-lock pliers.

    Charged $10 more for a reciprocating saw than the listed price, during the holidays last Christmas when EVERY PRODUCT IN THE UNIVERSE was ON SALE. I am not making this up. I took the guy over to the saws and showed him the price.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Just to note that I have never had a problem with exchanging Craftsman tools. I even recently had a case where the tape in a measuring tape was broken, and they gave me a new unit – while informing me that the warranty really doesn’t cover the tape. I checked and the package clearly says that.
    A few years ago I was in Sears, and they had a table of reduced price Craftsman power tools – I asked the salesman why the price was reduced. He told me they have customers that buy tools, use them one time for a special job, and return them saying they’re not satisfied and ask for their money back. So the customer isn’t always the good guy, and Sears isn’t always the bad guy!

  18. Corporate-Shill says:

    Not the original owner? It is a farking 20 year old hammer with a splintered shaft. Is it mine, or did I find it? Prove I am not the original owner. Nowhere does it say I must provide the original receipt.

  19. Anonymous says:

    From the back of a Sears receipt, dated today:
    [other warranty details]

    Craftsman Hand Tool Full Warranty
    If any Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it to any Sears store or other Craftsman outlet in the United States for free repair or replacement. This warranty gives you specific legal rights and you may have other rights, which vary, from state to state.

  20. Dansc29625 says:

    Couple of thoughts.

    They are making good on their warranty, but to what end? The customer (OP? never got that term) Is still going to another manufacturer. If they had done him right the first time they wouldn’t have that problem.

    Don’t let your tools get rusty. (yes it was your fault, not blaming the OP(?) but just take care of your stuff)

    3 per person per day is a good rule. It is fair. Keeps out the moochers. (Don’t be a moocher)

  21. Anonymous says:

    ” Sears is owned by f’ing K-mart. The tools are no longer Made in the USA. Why be loyal to a brand that isn’t loyal to its country?”

    You need a reality check and a business course. KMart doesn’t own Sears and Sears doesn’t own Kmart. One holding company owns both, that’s the funcion of a holding company.

    As for the tools, most hand tools are made by Danaher Tool Group in North Carolina with some made by Western Forge in Colorado Springs. A few, in particular the little “precision” pliers are made overseas.

    Got it?

    As for Snap-on, try replacing a Snap-on tool you’ll get the 3rd degree on how and why it failed. Bettery yet, try replacing a Snap-on tool at 9 PM on a Friday.

    • DynamicBits says:

      @suburbancowboy: Really? None of them? Are you sure?

      The “Companion” line is not made in the USA, and does not say it is. Most of the Craftsman hand tools are made in the USA, and some of the power tools are at least assembled in the USA.

      It has been a while since I’ve needed to buy a Craftsman power tool, so I can’t comment on how the “Made in USA” is displayed on those, but it is right there, clearly displayed, on the hand tools.

      You are very right about keeping manufacturing jobs in this country, though.

  22. robotprom says:

    My wife and I went to Sears on Saturday to get a new filter for my shop vac, and the salesman we encountered was just like Dwight Schrute. He even grabbed the filter out of my hand to make sure it was the correct one, never believing me that I had, in fact, chosen the correct one. He was simultaneously pushy and dismissive. If that doesn’t scare me off of Sears, nothing will.