Sears Customer Service Runaround Results In New Sander

Can we tag a story “above and beyond” if the customer service cycle is so screwed up that it eventually works out in the customer’s favor? When jpodbuild tried to get his Craftsman sander repaired or replaced, he couldn’t get anyone on the phone who could actually help him—eventually he would end up back at the first number he’d called. He decided to show up in person and let the store manager handle the phone calls. New sander!

Jpodbuild first called his local Sears, and was referred to another number. At the second number he was told to go to the website There, he searched for an answer to his problem but found nothing, so he called the number on the site. They referred him back to the second number he’d called. Someone at that number had him call a third number, where a person verified his account information and had him call the second number again.

That’s when he took the sander with him to his local Sears and asked the employee there to do something about it. He doesn’t say how much time passed, but eventually the employee came back, grabbed a new sander off the shelf, and traded for it.

When I asked why I was receiving a new sander instead of some tech help, [the employee] told me that the manager of my local Sears had just made the same convoluted sequence of phone calls. Sears seems to have an internal problem. Eventually she shouted out a colorful metaphor into the phone at the last person she was talking with and then told Baby-face to just give me a new sander and tell me to go home. So… I went home and sanded into the night.

Thanks, Sears?

“Craftsman but not Techmen” [jpodbuild] (Thanks to Dan and Loy!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mcnerd85 says:

    and then told Pizza Face*

    Chrissy Bear hasn’t had any coffee yet. He’s in Hawaii, it’s still like 7:30 am, July, 12 2006 there.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @mcnerd85: I do not understand this comment.

      • HiPwr says:

        @Chris Walters: I think it means kudos to the Sears employee and a great post on the Consumerist.

      • mcnerd85 says:

        @Chris Walters: Yeah, it meant great post. Also, I was saying that you meant to call the boy ‘pizza face’ not ‘baby face,’ but you erred as it is still early and you have not yet had coffee. I further explained that it is still early for you because you’re currently in Hawaii, where it is not only still morning, but also the year 2006, because that is how far Hawaii is. Now excuse me, I have to make my cat stop eating this new house plant.

  2. Anonymous says:

    As an associate working the in-store repair, I can tell you up front that had he brought it to the store for “in-store repair”, we would have sent it out to a place in Texas, (if I remember correctly) where they would have either fixed it or sent it back for replacement in the store.

    I do find it funny that he doesn’t list any numbers that he was given nor does he mention if it was in-warranty or not. Sears does offer replacement plans for 10% of the price at purchase where they replace the product at any point within 2 years without question in the store.

    For future reference, call 1-800-469-4663 (1-800-4MY-HOME) and ask for parts and repair.

  3. Thorzdad says:

    The cyber runaround isn’t unique to Sears, unfortunately. More companies and retailers are moving their customer service to an unholy labyrinth of phone trees and websites. Often, neither service is up-to-date with the other and you often get dead-end links and endless loops.

    In the specific case of Sears, I’ve always found that going back to the store itself is ALWAYS more productive.

    • tripnman says:

      @Thorzdad: Yup, I experienced this with AT+T last week.

      After discovering that we could no longer make long-distance calls on one of our two residential lines, I called AT+T. They told me that they were not the long distance provider on that line (in the same breath saying that they were unsure as to how that would happen, because they don’t allow different long distance plans on two line accounts). Due to security reasons, they couldn’t even tell me who the long distance provider is but were able to provide a number to call to determine that. So – I called and was greeted by someone at Excel Communications. They informed me that I was not a customer of theirs and that my account was handled by Cavalier LLC. So, a third call was made. Guess what? Cavalier says that my phone number (which I’ve had since 2004) has been registered to an undisclosed business since 2001 and that they can’t possibly be the long distance provider or do anything to help. They suggested I call AT+T.

      AT+T of course recommended that I call Excel Communications back. Comcast is coming to install VOIP on Thursday.

      • Riff Raff says:

        @tripnman: My whole family could tell you stories about AT&T’s convoluted abomination that they consider a phone tree.

        My parents were without cell service for over a month because the online activation of their new phones failed, and borked their old phones permanently (what is this? 1999?). My mom had to fight to just get a refund for the phones and the time they were without service.

        I just had U-verse installed about a month ago. The service was fine for a few days, then refused to work. Fast forward three weeks, over five phone calls, four technician visits, and easily over 12 hours of my time wasted to fix the issue. (FYI: anyone who lives near large radio/cell towers NEEDS to use coax for their connection within and outside the dwelling. Normal twisted pair just doesn’t cut it in terms of shielding.) Even then, I didn’t get the service credit I deserved. However, I received it without any hassle, so at this point I’m willing to call it even.

        • Firethorn says:

          I looked up U-Verse, it’s like a DSL service isn’t it?

          In any case, I don’t think coax would be compatible, I’d imagine that you’d use STP(shielded twisted pair) instead of UTP(unshielded twisted pair).

          Coax’s resistance is different, not to mention that you only have 1 wire instead of up to 8 like with cat5/cat6 ethernet

          • Anonymous says:


            U-Verse is an IP-based product that typically uses Cat-5 to deliver video from the Residential Gateway to the Set Top Box. However, it supports MoCA as well and thats often used in houses where there is an existing coax cable plant but no pre-installed Cat-5. This is only for the STB’s, of course…standard connectivity for the PC’s is still via Cat-5.

      • Nighthawke says:

        @tripnman: Smells like you got slammed long ago by some shady operation. Time to contact your state and file a grievance.

    • Etoiles says:

      @Thorzdad: Yes, we encountered it at Verizon Wireless when we were getting a new phone for my fiancé and combining our contracts into a family plan. The agent helping us at the desk was decent enough but she actually had her phone on speaker for a while, so we could hear that she was totally being given the run-around from her own company, connected to A and then told to call B and then B says, “No, A should help you,” and then getting transferred to C…

  4. CompyPaq says:

    I think above and beyond should really be reserved for companies that do right the first time.

    • HiPwr says:

      @computerwiz3491: I disagree. There is so much time spent here on negative stories about companies and employees of companies that it’s only appropriate to report positively in-turn.

      Granted, this is kind of a mixed bag because corporate Sears has a screwed up system for resolving this man’s sander issue, but to their credit, it gave the local manager the latitude to resolve it on the spot.

    • strandist says:

      @computerwiz3491: I agree. Above and Beyond should be saved for when companies and individuals actually go above and beyond what is expected of them. I also agree with HiPwr that I enjoy seeing more positive stories. Perhaps the solution is to use the Above and Beyond sparingly and have a new, less meritorious “Good Job” or “Consumer-Friendly” tag for the positive actions that don’t quite merit the big medals?

      • CompyPaq says:

        @strandist: Exactly. I have no problem with good outcomes. But if its difficult for the consumer to get the good outcome, its not above and beyond (unless the outcome is much more than expected).

  5. Murph1908 says:

    A friend of mine got a brand new 40-some inch LCD TV from Sears recently due to screw-ups in getting an older* one repaired. Failed tech visits + parts that don’t arrive apparently = new tv at Sears these days.

    *Older, as like big box projection old.

    Sears might be trying to repair their service image with shiny free stuff?

  6. econobiker says:

    The one hand of Sears doesn’t know what the other is doing.

    The maintenance manager of one of my company’s plants related this: he needed an average belt sander for some operation as his shop’s sander was dead. He searched online and decided that Sears had what he needed- lets say for $39.99. He finds out that the local store supposedly has one in stock. He goes to store during lunch with unit SKU number. Store cannot find one at all with that SKU- manager said he started a slow burn. Helpful store person says but we have a several of a discontinued model in stock. “How much?” of course was maintenance managers first question thinking that he won’t pay $39.99 for a “last years model”. Store person says something like $6.99. Maintenance manager said he didn’t believe the person but was told that yes, $6.99 was the price of a sander formerly priced at $59.99!!! last year. Manager exited store with one for the plant, one for himself and one as a future gift to his father.

    He said it was insane but he likes that kind of insanity.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am in the middle of a horrible experience with Sears and a hot water heater. I bought one in 2004 with a 12 year warranty, paid extra for that piece of mind. It just crapped out yesterday, and after getting stuck in some kind of infinite call loop, they said they can’t replace the unit without an on-site inspection to confirm it is shot. Two bad things: 1. They can’t come out until Wednesday afternoon, and 2. They want to charge me $70 for the “labor” to inspect it. Sears just does not get it, I paid extra for a 12 year warranty, my family’s without hot water for 3 days, and they want to charge me $70. They wonder why their business is declining. That’s the last Sears appliance of any sort I’ll ever purchase. Worse, I was willing to go to the store and spend $600 for the replacement, so long as I got a credit in 3 days for the new one. Problem is that they can’t certify the original is bad if it has been deinstalled. Sears – if you are reading this, the solution is simple – Let me get my replacement on my dime, and credit me later. That’s only fair.

    • Anonymous says:

      Did the extended warranty that you purchased state any of these facts when you purchased it? I remember being offered the extended warranty at Best Buy for about $3,000 worth of new appliances and for a change, i read the contract through and the hoops that needed to be jumped through were so absurd that there was NO WAY that i would pay for the opportunity to be infuriated! Not saying that your contract did detail this or not but just curious what it did say. Sears was not owned by K-Mart back then right? Perhaps the policy has changed with new ownership but they have to honor the agreement they signed with you, whomever owned them back then.

  8. shagybones says:

    I just exchanged a Snapper mower at Sears. I picked up the first one to bring it home only to find the frame bent. Contacted Snapper, no response, called Sears (exchange it). I brought it to my local Sears, only to find out they did not have the same model in stock. I asked about paying the difference to upgrade. Long story short to make me happy they let me have a mower that was $100 more for $20, to make me happy and “help with gas money”

    If they keep going this way I will shop there all the time!

  9. SearsCares says:

    Dear Mr. Walters,

    My name is Brian and I am part of the Sears Cares escalations team and I am concerned about the inability you and the store manager had in getting to someone who could help with technical support for the sander. We would like to address this in order that we can correct any deficiencies in our processes. At your convenience, please contact our office at so that we can talk more about what we can do to help. When you have a moment, please send an email. Please provide a contact phone number and the phone number the sander was purchased under (if different than the contact phone number) and we will call you directly. In addition, please provide the screen name (Chris Walters) for reference to this issue and we do look forward to talking to you soon.

    Thank you,

    Brian J.
    Senior Case Manager
    Sears Cares

    • Coles_Law says:

      @SearsCares: Nice to see you here, but as an FYI, Chris Walters is just an editor here. “Jpodbuild” is the screen name of the person who had the problem. I think Chris could point you to jpod’s email though.

    • Chris Walters says:

      @SearsCares: Brian: You want Mark Janke. (See comment from him below.)

  10. thebigbad says:

    I worked at Sears in college and the particular Sears I worked at had the Auto center/repair facility in a separate building. People would bring back VCRs/DVD players/etc to the electronics department if they were broken and then electronics would take them back to the shipping dock and a few times a day, a van would come over load them up and drive them across the parking lot to the repair shop. When we were bored, we would go back on the dock and just start chucking VCRs into the crusher. When the broken item couldn’t be found, the customer would get a new one.

  11. Mark Janke says:

    Consumerist, Thanks for featuring my blog about my sander problem. I was happy to receive a new sander but it made me wonder about some parts of corporate America.

    FYI – the main number I called WAS 1-800-4myhome. My sander was NOT under warranty. There was no mention of a 2 year 10% plan. It was a simple replacement job. They did say they could send it to Seattle (NOT Texas) for repairs but chose not to do so, I assume, out of frustration.

    I spent about an hour at Sears & 3 hours doing the run around on my local Sears Parts store number, 1-800-4my-home, and the website.

    Check out what I’m using my new sander on at []

    Thanks again for the shout out.

  12. CompyPaq says:

    I just realized that this manager went against store policy. I sure hope a good manager like him doesn’t get fired over this. And he seems to have a good staff too as “baby face” didn’t just blow the guy off and instead got a manager who could help.

  13. pratzert says:

    Typical Sears…..

    Glad it worked out… but no thanks to Sears

    If you had just done a “return” instead they would have charged you a 15% restocking fee.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I am having a terrible time with my 4 year old Calpyso
    top of the line Sears washer.It has been out a month. They replaced the pump, it still didn’t work and now I have been stood up the last two days by their repairmen.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I purchased my 5th large appliance in 18 mos (refrigerator) but once again encountered delivery problems. Sales rep stated that I would hear from Sears Delivery a couple days before, and that I could adjust the time if needed. A computer called me on a Friday evening to state that frig would be delivered Sat a.m. btwn 7-9 a.m. I did not want to get up at 6 a.m. to empty the old fig, etc. Thus, I battled computer for 15 minutes before finally getting CSR who could not adjust the time of delivery. I was promised a call from a supervisor. Nobody called and frig never delivered. I called later on Sat to learn that my purchase was cancelled and taken off my credit card. I ran into similar problems with prior purcahses and maintenance visits. *I will never but anything at Sears again–way too much hassle and frustration.