Why Is Sears Being So Sneaky On This Dishwasher Rebate?

On Black Friday, Sears offered free installation on select Kenmore dishwashers in the form of a rebate coupon. The coupon is pretty simple to understand as far as these things go–buy one of the listed models, and Sears will pay for the installation. According to William, however, the listed model that he wanted remained out of stock only for the duration of the coupon. When he asked Sears to honor it the next day, they agreed to–but then after he bought the dishwasher they told him he had broken a nonexistent rule and therefore had voided the coupon.

Over the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period, I attempted to purchase a dishwasher from Sears.com that had been heavily discounted and included a free installation coupon. Checking the Sears.com website I found it curious that from the time Black Friday had begun, to the sunset of the coupon, the dishwasher (Kenmore Elite #1318) seemed to be out of stock around the country (I checked multiple zip codes).

Perhaps most interesting was that when I stopped by a Sears store and inquired about the availability of the dishwasher, they too were very surprised to find that the item was out of stock around the country. Of course, as soon as the coupon expired, the item was suddenly back in stock on both Sears website, and in the store.

Armed with this rather curious information, I contacted Sears.com and asked them to explain the coincidence, or perhaps to offer to honor the now expired coupon. They came back to me and told me that they would honor the coupon and that all I would need is to send them an order number as soon as I purchased the dishwasher. Given the tough economy and the helpful service I received at the Sears store just days earlier, I decided to try and purchase the dishwasher through the store and thus give them a bit of business. Following my purchase, I obtained a “sales check number” and contacted Sears.com thinking that this would suffice to receive the rebate. Sears.com came back to me and told me that the number was not in their system, and that I should check again with the store. I contacted the store and asked them if the order had been processed… they informed me it had, so I went back to Sears.com.

During my conversation with their representative, I was informed that Sears.com could not honor their commitment as I had purchased the item in a store as opposed to the website. I informed the representative that there was no requirement in either the original coupon or in the emails that they had sent to me. They informed me that there was nothing that they could do.

Thankfully, the store that I purchased the dishwasher from has decided to waive my installation charges. However, I don’t see why they have to foot the bill when this is a Sears.com problem.

Here’s the coupon (pdf). You can see that models 13182, 13183, and 13189 are all listed as part of the offer; the final digit denotes washer color. You can also see that nowhere on the coupon is there a stipulation that the purchase must be made on Sears.com instead of at a store. And it really is suspicious that Sears was mysteriously out of stock on the dishwashers only for the duration of the offer.

William says he’s already informed Sears that he’s going to file a claim against them with the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Update: William also mentioned in his email, “I purchased the dishwasher from a ‘Sears Appliance Store,'” not at one of the forbidden Hometown or Outlet stores.

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