Emailing Sears CEO Gets Broke Socket Wrench Replaced

One of our readers works in automotive repair, using a set of Craftsman tools he inherited from his pops. The tools have a lifetime guarantee, so he was shocked when after his 1/8th inch socket split he went into Kmart and they said, “Oh, no you have to go to Sears to do that.” (Kmart and Sears merged in ’05). So he did, by emailing the CEO of Sears.

That was 10pm last night. At 9:30 am this morning he got a call from Rafeh Masood, VP of Store Operations. He was super apologetic and offered three things:

* His direct cell number
* A time to meet the district manager to make sure the exchange went ok
* A $50 gift certificate

He went in and got his wrench exchanged without a hitch. The district manager also pledged to make sure that all the Kmart employees at that location and other locations in the area selling Craftsmen tools would get training in how to handle a tool exchange.

Our reader says this experience totally “blew him away.”

“This made my opinion of Sears/Kmart do a full 180,” he wrote, “and I really think your readers should know that they really seem to be putting serious effort into customer satisfaction.”

Indeed, Sears, long-maligned by our readers for subhuman customer service, does seem to be trying to remake their image. The fellow Rafeh our reader dealt with appears in a YouTube video encouraging customers to contact him and other members of the Sears “Blue Crew” directly with any problems at 224-698-9314. Guess they aren’t just a Best Buy ripoff after all.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Groanan says:

    “Inherited from his pops.”
    “The tools have a lifetime guarantee”

    Promise fulfilled regardless of the additional goodwill? Or is the father still alive?

    Glad to see that there are still some brands that really are for life, such as Craftsmen tools and Moen Faucets.

    • JohnnyP says:

      They have a “Forever” guarantee not “Lifetime” not you mistake but the OP’s

      • JohnnyP says:

        Well they used to call it forever but now its called Lifetime on the website but this is the infor for hand tools:

        If this Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge.

        To obtain warranty coverage, return the product to the outlet from which it was purchased (provided that the outlet is a participating retailer) for free repair or replacement, if repair is unavailable.

      • spazztastic says:

        Either way, it’s not YOUR lifetime, it’s the lifetime of the product. So unless you lose it, no need to ever replace it.

        My dad used to semi-melt his screwdrivers all the time. He was a master electrician, and occasionally would touch it to something he didn’t mean to.

    • Willow01 says:

      Zippo is the same way. You send in your non functioning or broken Zippo to them in PA they take it apart put it back together put on new hinges, give a new inside, a couple of flints and usually a 15 buck off coupon for your next Zippo purchase..

      • Southern says:

        Zippo is wonderful. I love their replacement guarantee. I’ve had 3-4 repaired/replaced over the last 20 years, and have another 2 I need to mail in right now (thanks for the reminder!).. But as I have about 10-15 of them, there’s not really a rush to send them in.

    • Robert Nagel says:

      Cross pens

  2. lehrdude says:

    Unlike Tivo, I think that Sears’ lifetime guarantee is actually for the live of the tools…

    • nosense22 says:

      What is a lifetime of a tool? Forever?

      • Iron Weasel says:

        Generally with Craftsman hand tools, “forever” means exactly that.

        I had a similar situation occur about 8 years ago with some Craftsman tools I inherited from my grandfather who bought them sometime in the 1960’s. I managed to break a socket while working on my Jeep and took it down to the local Sears store and walked out with a brand new replacement in less than 5 minutes.

      • fatediesel says:

        Yes, forever, or at least as long as Sears is in business. I used to work at Sears and we would have people bring in tools that looked to be 50 years old and replace it, no questions asked. It used to be we’d just grab a new tool off the shelf, but they started using a lot of refurbished tools instead. The warranty doesn’t cover power tools, the blades on tape measures, and precision hand tools. The warranty is for the life of the tool, not the life of the owner, and is fully transferable since no receipt is required.

    • jaya9581 says:

      How is that unlike TiVo? TiVo’s lifetime service is for the lifetime of the unit.

      I still don’t know what people do to their TiVos that they die early. My oldest is going on 11 years old and it still works fine. The youngest is 4 years old. None of them have any problems and they’ve all been moved multiple times, some of them cross-country.

      On Topic, good for Sears/KMart for fixing this.

  3. stock2mal says:

    Don’t bother taking care of tools with moving parts like ratchets, they may not give you a new replacement if you need a replacement. They refurb old broken ratchets that were returned, so you can end up getting a ratchet that looks like it was used as a torture device.

    • Aristotle-or-PlayDoh says:

      I believe if you ask, they will give you a rebuild kit, so you can keep your original ratchet. I think it works for new tape measure blades as well.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      I agree it was grim to work at Sears. I managed a hardware department a decade or so ago. We did indeed rebuild broken ratchets. But we would also rebuild your very own if you liked, as long as we had the right kit containing the right “guts”. That was the most fun part of my job. Given that I am female, a lot of the older guys didn’t like dealing with me, figuring I didn’t know what I was talking about.

      But my smaller fingers and good coordination meant I could rebuild a ratchet in record time. Great way to build goodwill with the old geezers. Also, we’d have contests. We’d pull out a bunch of returned ratchets, rebuild them, and see who was fastest. I loved winning those.

  4. MysticYoYo says:

    Sorry, wrench or no wrench, Sears was the grimmest place I’ve ever worked.

  5. BuddhaLite says:

    I recently had a positive experience calling the CEO’s office of Sears too. I ordered a dishwasher in one city and asked to have it delivered to another city. It was purchased on a Saturday and scheduled to be delivered and installed Friday and they called Thursday to verify the delivery. Problem was the sales clerk entered the wrong warehouse and they canceled the order. Their customer service was beyond useless and since the order was canceled each department just blamed it on another one. After being transferred a bunch of times I hung up and found the CEO’s name.

    I called corporate and asked for the CEO’s office by name and was transferred. The person that helped me never transferred me once and had the issue handled in less than an hour. They delivered it the next day and they refunded the delivery and install cost.

  6. TerpBE says:

    Great job by Sears, but why didn’t you just go to a Sears store? They’d probably replace it without any questions, and most likely have a better selection of replacement tools.

    There’s a time and a place to get upper management involved. From the description in this article, it seems like this escalation was made way too quickly.

    • egoods says:

      Well, I sent this in and I’ll bring up two points that weren’t made clear in the article. This Kmart is on my way home from work, and they had the exact same socket set that I needed to replace. If I were to go to a Sears, it would mean driving 10 miles out of my way. Why should I be inconvenienced because an associate is mis-informed?

      • elangomatt says:

        I really hope that you mis-typed in this comment and didn’t expect an entire socket set be replaced just because one of the sockets broke. I’d be surprised if Kmart sold many single sockets like they would over at sears. I don’t think the store should have to replace your entire socket set or break up a new socket set (thus making it unsellable) to replace your socket that broke.

        You also could have tried escalating the issue at the local Kmart as well by asking to talk to a local store manager. Most managers are perfectly happy to capitulate to customers who complain about what a customer service person says and they are very likely to know the Craftsman exchange policy as well. The practice of going from the minimum wage misinformed customer service person to the CEO is rather like getting a speeding ticket for going 10 miles over and going to the Supreme Court to get it removed from your record.

        • egoods says:

          First, when I say socket set I’m referring to an 18 piece socket set (retails for $25), not some mammoth set. Looking on Sears website they do not list a single 1/4″ drive 10mm deep socket, they do list a 13mm single, but it’s out of stock online and in store. I would’ve been perfectly happy to exchange just the single socket itself had the option been presented to me, in fact I offered it to the district manager today, he of course refused and gave me the new set. And to address the second part of your comment the woman I initially spoke to informed me that she was indeed the manager on duty, and when a manager tells me that something is company policy I’m inclined to believe it. My original email stated that I wanted to know if this is in fact company wide policy, and if so then it’s a policy I would seriously consider revising. From experience a DM has very little ability to adjust company policy.

          You’re also skimming over the fact that it is a policy that has now been addressed company wide (so I was told anyway), so misinformed associates/managers should no longer be an issue in regard to that particular policy.

          • u1itn0w2day says:

            If any company gives out 25$ worth of goods for a 4$ issue they would be out of business rather quickly. It is Kmart and/or Sears fault for not having a practical policy in place. They should have at least been able to have one sent to your house or store just for you.

            It sounds like that manager gave you the set so you would go away.

            Somebody mentioned Ace hardware. So if you bought a set off Ace you would expect that Ace to break up a complete set? I’m looking at this as a warranty with Craftsman and not the store. If Craftsman tells you to go a particular store or procedure for a warranty replacement then Craftsman is the problem and not Ace, Kmart or who sells Craftsman forever warranty tools.

            • egoods says:

              I would’ve also been fine with that, and hell if they would’ve told me this is policy to send it in but Sears can help me out then I would’ve gone to Sears since I needed that tool rather urgently. Also, if a store is selling a product for $25, it doesn’t cost them anywhere near that much, probably closer to $3. If they would’ve given me one socket out of that set, it would’ve been sent back to the warehouse, or manufacturer (which happens to be the same company) as a defect. They would’ve added the missing socket, resealed the package and put it back on the shelf, costing the company almost nothing. I’m sure the manager was doing it to just get me to go away (though I did stay and chat with him and the DM for a good 20 minutes, since I wasn’t incredibly angry nor do I think I was unpleasant at all.) Again, I don’t make the policy, I’m not 100% on top of how exactly it is supposed to work, I do however expect the employees of that company to be on top of it.

        • egoods says:

          I hate to double comment, but as I re-read your comment you’re saying that a K-Mart store shouldn’t be forced to break up a set to warranty one part that broke. But they sell the identical set, with the “Lifetime Guarantee”, but because they might not have a single socket in stock they’re absolved of any obligation to honor said guarantee?

          Allow me to use an analogy: where I work, we happen to sell brake pads with a lifetime defect/friction warranty. If a customer were to come in to the parts department with a set of pads, and wanted to exchange them for a new set because one of those pads had a hard spot, I should tell them that I wouldn’t be able to do that because the other 3 pads are fine, and there’s no reason I should have to replace those 3? It seems like a pretty asinine way of thinking if you ask me.

      • PhilFR says:

        Good for you for the initiative, and good for you for sending this in!

    • mbz32190 says:

      Maybe he doesn’t live near a Sears and/or Kmart was the closest store? Kmart is the closest store to my house, while OTOH, Sears is a 25 minute drive.

      But given the staff at my local Kmart, it doesn’t surprise me…they probably did not even know they could be returned to Kmart.

      It will be interesting to see who handles replacements for Craftsman stuff now being sold at ACE hardware (unless they aren’t selling hand tools)

  7. Macgyver says:

    He goes to Kmart, they told him to go to Sears. He then cries like a little baby, and emails the CEO.
    Why didn’t he just go to Sears?

    • egoods says:

      As I said in response to another comment, the nearest sears is cross-town, while the k-mart which had an identical replacement in stock (that I presented to the woman at the customer service counter) is on my way home from work. If it was a product they didn’t have in stock, then that’s understandable and I would’ve gone to Sears, but I walked up to the counter with the exact same product in-hand.

    • TasteyCat says:

      +1. This is not the correct process, whether it works or not. Abuses like this ruin it for everyone. Go to the CEO if you make efforts to resolve your problem and can’t get anywhere. Don’t run it right to the top of the food chain just because you can’t be bothered trying.

  8. 108socks says:

    That be a “broken” socket wrench, not “broke”? The verb is broke. The adjective is broken.
    Broke is an adjective when describing someone out of money, not something that needs to be fixed.

    This is a pet peeve of mine.
    Also, when people spell “lose” as loose with double oos (as in lose weight or something). Loose with two oos is when something is not tight.

    I can’t wait until the end of the day.

  9. mikec041 says:

    MAYBE like me the OP ONLY has a Kmart near by. My nearest Sears store is 100 miles away and the nearest Kmart is 3 miles.

  10. crazydavythe1st says:

    Now if they would only revitalize Craftsman so quality would be on par with the old Craftsman tools and not just be a crappy store brand tool.

  11. JustLurking says:

    Sears has slowly been whoring out the Craftsmen name, particularly on power tools, to cheaper, made-in-China editions.

    While most of the traditional hand tools (wrenches, sockets, screwdrivers) remain USA made, just about everything else is made overseas now. This has all happened in the last 20 years.

    They definitely back up the warranty on the hand tools with no questions asked, but the quality it not the same.

  12. rndmnmbr says:

    Craftsman tools carry pretty much the same guarantee as the major brands of hand tools (Snap-On, S&K, Matco, etc.) The reason most professional mechanics don’t use Craftsman tools is the other brand will come to you for warranty service instead of you having to go to them, and that matters when you’re breaking a couple of tools a week.

    One note of warning, though, using a cheater pipe on a ratchet invalidates everyone’s warranty. They sell breakover bars for a reason.

    • JonBoy470 says:

      If I improvise a breaker bar using my Craftsman socket wrench, and a pipe, and the socket wrench breaks, then in my estimation, the wrench has failed to provide me complete satisfaction.

      To quote Craftsman:
      “If this Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge.

      To obtain warranty coverage, return the product to the outlet from which it was purchased (provided that the outlet is a participating retailer) for free repair or replacement, if repair is unavailable.”

      • JonBoy470 says:

        To further clarify my above response, the Craftsman hand-tool warranty is an example (one of the few, in fact) of a “full warranty” as defined in the Manguson-Moss Warranty Act.

    • Jfielder says:

      I’ve been saying for years that Craftsman needs to come up with a tool truck type branch of their business that goes to auto shops. I’d be they’d do alright.

      Granted there are some things that Snap-On just makes better, but some things I would say are just as good. I bought two sets of Craftsman Pro-Series wrenches (the nice long chrome ones), total cost was around 200 dollars, that is 3 times cheaper than the equivalent Snap On wrenches ($600), and I think they’re just as good.

  13. SabreDC says:

    “That was 10pm last night. At 9:30 am this morning…”

    I’m glad you clarified that. I thought you meant 9:30 pm this morning. If you’re going to use “last night” and “this morning”, why use “pm” and “am”? Why not just say “That was 10:00 last night. At 9:30 this morning…”

    Your outstanding journalism and editorial quality shines once again.

  14. coren says:

    Bit of an overreact, if you ask me. I saw the OP posting that the sears is across town – and I get that, but the step he took was more than a little out of proportion to the action involved. IMO of course.

    Also, if lifetime doesn’t refer to the lifetime of the original owner, why bother calling it lifetime? Call it forever or something that’s less confusing and more accurate.

    • egoods says:

      I’m curious, how would you have handled it? Keep in mind that I work 50+ hours a week, on top of going to college full time, so my free time to chase down a district manager or even general store manager is extremely limited. Clearly there was an issue with associates understanding the exchange policy for tools, and I now have full faith that the issue will not only be addressed at this K-Mart, but at all K-Marts that carry Craftsman tools. If there was a better way for me to handle it, I’d be interested in hearing what you have to say (I realize this last sentence sounds sarcastic, but it’s not intended to).

      • mdoneil says:

        I would have just figured the lady at K-Mart was a dumbass and gone to Sears when I had some time.

        Seems like a bit of an overreaction to me. It was a ratchet, not a liver transplant.

      • TasteyCat says:

        Go to Sears. If 10 miles is really that inconvenient, call them instead. Talk to a CSR, and if they are useless, escalate to a supervisor. If you still can’t get anywhere, perhaps then you go to the CEO. Don’t go straight from store clerk (for a different brand store) to a CEO. If you don’t have the time to resolve the problem in an appropriate manner, then I don’t see why the business should have the time to help you.

        • egoods says:

          The CEO didn’t do anything besides hand it off to a VP, which surprised me. The aforementioned VP also provided a direct line on YouTube for people to contact him with ANY problems, so why waste my time and effort with escalation, hold times, and added aggravation when I can go the easy route. At the end of the day, honestly, if I would’ve escalated it and spent god knows how long trying to get a straight answer, my exchange would’ve eventually been handled I’m sure, but I would still have a sour opinion about the brand. Sears did amazing, I sent this in to applaud what they did for me, and they flipped my, and my co-workers opinions of Craftsman and Sears almost completely around.

      • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

        The point is, if enough people use this avenue to get such a minor complaint resolved, pretty soon the CEO won’t have time to do his job. He’ll let all of his emails reroute to customer service and stop taking the time to give this hands-on service, because there won’t be enough hours in the day.

        So by going directly to the top of the food chain without even attempting to escalate it to local management, and by asking for something unreasonable (in my opinion, asking them to break up a set when they don’t sell singles is unreasonable, since they now would have an entire set minus one that they couldn’t sell), you’ve simply made it harder for the next consumer with a major issue that couldn’t be resolved any other way.

  15. rpm773 says:

    Note to self: The OP seems to have omitted any mention of inserting socket wrench into CEO’s rectum in a violent fashion

  16. stottpie says:

    craftsman rocks. although so does snap-on

    • egoods says:

      Totally agree, but Snap-On is also insanely expensive. My box, and all of my hand tools are craftsman, I do have a Snap-On impact gun, and cordless impact gun. Being a mechanic isn’t a career for me so it seems silly to invest that kind of dough into something that will get used just for wrenching on my own car in the near future.

    • Scoobatz says:

      Have to admit, I kind of like Lowe’s Kobalt line of hand tools. They seem to be much more ergonomic than some of my Craftsman equivalents. When it comes to power tools, though, I pretty much own Dewalt’s entire product line.

  17. mcgyver210 says:

    I also have lots of Craftsman Tools but I recently was in Sears while purchasing New appliances & decided to grab a Tape Measure but found Sears has decided to discontinue them. So I asked what happens with all the others I already purchased? They said they would give a alternate brand that didn’t have a Forever Warranty. Now this has happened with other specialty tools such as Robo Grips, Screw Drivers etc. but the last draw for me was something as common as a Tape Measure.

    I will still buy Craftsman but first I will look at Husky & Kobalt since they still carry common tools.

    I worked for Sears while I was in High School Co-Op & I can say honestly they are not even close to the same Customer oriented company they was. But this is a good story & outcome for the OP. Just don’t forget it took a VP to make it right.

  18. PhilFR says:

    Good to hear. I want to like Sears; they’ve long been an anchor in downtown Oakland. But I fear this is too little, too late for them.

  19. u1itn0w2day says:

    The only Kmarts I’ve seen with Craftsman tools have a very limited selection. I don’t even recall seeing individual sockets-just sets. I’m unclear on wether the op broke a complete set to get his socket replaced.

    It sounds like escalation was a little hasty. But in a day and age of robo employees I can see wether this might be an unsolvable problem for the staff.

  20. What’s your problem, Kazanski? says:

    For all of you bitching about how he escalated this too quickly:

    It’s not Sears’ guarantee, it’s Craftsman’s guarantee. K-Mart is out NOTHING by exchanging the individual piece or the entire set. Anyone who’s worked in the office of a retail establishment knows that K-Mart, Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, etc just have to submit a claim to the manufacturer and the store is then reimbursed for the product.

    Get your facts straight before you go off on someone who didn’t feel they should be inconvenienced because a “manager” on duty at K-Mart was an idiot.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      That’s how it should work but alot of companies/manufacturers won’t even consider a warranty exchange unless the exchange is perfect. Alot of companies refuse exhanges if you don’t return the original packing, manuals, accessories and/or original reciept your out of luck.

      In theory a single socket shouldn’t be a problem but an entire set? If Kmart returns the entire set to Craftsman saying the entire set is defective they just lied to get reimbursed from the manufacturer. Same for the customer although here this is how Kmart wanted to do the exhange. If they return the entire set when only one piece is bad they just lied or committed fraud for a new set or money back as well.

      The problem here is Kmart and/or Craftsman not having a clear cut well defined procedure/process for forever warranty exchanges.

  21. sparc says:

    Lesson of the day… If you have a Craftsman issue, just go to Sears directly.

    More knowledgeable employees and probably a better selection. Kmart still is stuck in the Kmart era.

  22. patton1942 says:

    OP was for a simple socket which KMart might not have had. The quote says “1/8 inch socket” not ratchet or socket wrench. There is no 1/8th inch socket wrench, only 1/4, 3/8, 1/2 or 3/4 inch ratchets at Sears.

    Regardless it is nice to see the effort that went in to making the customer happy. As a person who isn’t a Sears employee, I definitely didn’t see a customer tonight wandering around with the ‘help me look’ on her face and I definitely didn’t help her find the item she wanted while 3 ‘blue crew’ douchers just sat around picking their noses. I definitely didn’t go into the back, find it on a pallet freshly off-loaded from a truck and sell it to her, all on her birthday. Nope. Because Sears fires people who complain publicly about the company. So none of this happened.

    Plenty of Sears employees still care, just not the 17 year old kids they higher for minimum wage and flood the floor with.

    Said the person who is definitely NOT a sears employee.