Sears In-Store Pickup: Not Fast, Not In Stock, Not Helpful

Sears is trying to coax actual customers into its stores with great sales, but don’t be fooled. They’re still Sears. Donald ordered some tools for in-store pickup in order to save on shipping, but the store didn’t actually have the items they promised. Not “didn’t have them waiting for him,” but “didn’t have them at all.” While he waited for forty-five minutes, he couldn’t help but feel insulted when he saw a sign touting in-store pickup as “fast, in stock, and helpful.” Zero for three, really.

He writes:

I saw a great sale @ on a cordless drill/flashlight combo set and put 3 in my cart. I was immediately presented with the option to save shipping cost by checking stock at my local store. They had plenty in stock, so I continued to checkout with store pickup. I also added 2 cordless soldering irons that were in stock & on sale.

I got the confirmation email almost immediately that they were ready to pickup. When I arrived to pick them up, they only had one of each item. I waited almost 30 minutes for them to verify that they didn’t have any more. The salesperson mentioned that he would look for an alternate item. However, he quickly realized that he’d lose money if he offered me a similar or better item. He even taunted me with a suitable substitute, but said I couldn’t have it because it didn’t come with a battery. He didn’t even offer me the option of taking the better drill w/o the battery (which I gladly would have).

He called another store and waited silently on the phone for almost 10 minutes while i just stood there waiting to see how he was going to resolve it. He then announced that the other store showed them in stock, but they couldn’t find any either. I asked him what he was going to do, and he said he couldn’t even order them anymore, so the only thing he could do was issue me a credit for the items that were missing.

During the whole ordeal, I was standing in front of a sign touting their online purchase/pickup as fast, in stock, and helpful. They were 0 for 3. To make matters worse, I discovered when I got home and looked up the item on their website, they were both available for shipping. As much as I’d like to have the items, I’m not about to pay upwards of $8 for shipping, and I’ll likely not bother to shop at Sears again.

P.S. I also discovered on the website that I was supposed to receive a $5 coupon for a future purchase if my wait was more than 5 minutes. Perhaps that only applies if I was actually able to pickup everything that I ordered.

A Precise Timeline Of How Sears Screwed Up Selling A Car Battery
Sears Lost $421 Million Last Quarter, Didn’t Spend It Fixing Up Stores


Edit Your Comment

  1. Turn-n-Burn says:

    And the hits just keep on comin’…

    • vastrightwing says:

      Exactly. They will never improve and will probably never go out of business either. I read posts where people are sure Best Buy will go out of business because they are so inept. This is so not true. Quite the opposite; They all (meaning Sears, Best Buy, etc) know that people will get upset and not shop there for a “while” but will come running back at the hint of a sale. People fall for the bait of free store delivery and deals too good to be true, time and time again. There is no end to this. Sure you’re upset now, but next time you want something Sears has, you’ll come crawling back. Yes, it’s true. Admit it. And this is why they will stay in business.

      Now imagine IF people thought about how badly these stores treat customers and assumed they would get treated the same way and started shopping on the internet more. Then there would be a chance they could go out of business. Also, Comcast is still around even though they have deplorable service. The reason is simple: customers put up with it. Apparently I am a tiny minority.

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Drives a stake through Sear’s heart. Die already!

      • sweeti2055 says:

        MeowMaximus – you say drive a stake through Sears and just die. You do realize you are talking about several thousand employees who work their rear ends off to try to make a living. Alot of them enjoy their job and love talking to customers and go above and beyond the call of duty. They make sure their customer’s are taking care of. I apologize to those of you who have had bad experiences but not every Sears store is like what you have described. Maybe you calmly talk to the management of your store and explain your experience they would be able to change other customer experiences there. I said calmly because people think that screaming and cursing makes you hear better, it doesn’t, it makes it harder to hear what you are saying.

  2. Jules Noctambule says:

    Is real-time inventory really that difficult for Sears to manage? What are they using– an abacus and a trained penguin?

    • Laura Northrup says:

      And a box of index cards.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      More like a rabid penguin. With a gun.

      • PurplePenquin says:

        Hey hey hey now!! That ain’t a fair comparison at all.

        I think somebody owes an apology to the penguins…

        • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

          Hey yourself, I was defending the virtues and abilities of well-trained penguins. ;)

    • webweazel says:

      Their terminals are greenscreens. I bet they’re still using some kind of ancient DOS database. It looks like it is because of the way the info comes up on the screens.

      Things get mis-labeled in stock delivery, happens at every retail store. (I once worked at a store where a load of TVs came in labeled as bath towels.) Their stock counts in the database are always WILDLY off. This you can bank on. I don’t know how they do their annual inventory, but if they registered every item and count rather than just a count in general, it could be updated in the database every year. I guess they don’t do this, and items that they have stocked for a long time are way off count, always.

      If they SAY it’s in stock, ask them to put their physical hands on it to make sure. Last time I bought something large there, the salesperson went down to the stockroom and put eyeballs on it before ringing it up. The employees know the deal if you get a good one.

  3. J.A.Reader says:

    Regarding the wait time, in my area stores they have a nifty little time-tracking system to show the customer how long he or she is waiting for their order to be picked from the stockroom and handed to you. You start the clock by scanning the bar code on your receipt and waiting for the employee to come out and ask you for it. The local Sears employees have this featured gamed by rushing out to ask you for your receipt and immediately logging it as “delivered”, and then take their sweet time in getting the item and handing it to you.

    • lemortede says:

      Mine actually put a sign in front of the scanner asking you to give the paper to someone. There was no one around so I scanned it anyway. They did not like that.

    • rdm says:

      Yes! The “timer” always says 0:30 or something absurd, while I’m waiting around for 10 minutes.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      So make a copy with the barcode redacted, and hand that to them for them to retrieve your order. As long as it’s not something that would absorb bodily fluids, I’d be quite happy to piss them off for pulling shit like that. But I can be an asshole about things like this, once my more-than-ample patience is gone.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        EDIT: As long as you’re not ordering something that easily absorbs…

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Alot of customer service employees & companies do things like that to game the system. It’s not about customer service it’s about their job & careers. Many employees don’t have the guts to tell the truth. The systems these companies use get false data that “fools” management into thinking their procedures are ok. Management knows this is going on but tolerate because they benefit as well.

      I know of utility customer service reps AND managers that would closeout customer trouble reports as being repaired 5 minutes after dispatch-the company had dispatch time, repaired time and completed time. They used designated dispatchers who had no problem lying when closing out the service request in the computer system.

      Then these same companies wonder why they lose business or have a nasty reputation. They have the gual to say document it. When did this happen.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      I had a run-in with the UPS guy over a similar issue. UPS site showed a package as delivered at noon. No package on doorstep. I honestly thought someone had stolen it (it was a laptop). Called UPS CS, who called the local hub. Guy shows up with package an hour later saying it was scanned as delivered because he was delivering for a second driver, and that guy scaned it as delivered before he gave it to him. Turns out they were both just hiding the fact that the second driver snuck out of work early and their system would have shown that the first driver had delivered the package if he had scanned it. They have a name for this type of activity. It’s called fraud.

      • u1itn0w2day says:

        And to rationalize it and dampen the fact that they are lying and/or committing fraud they use statements like ‘just do this…’ or ‘all you have to do is…’ to make it seem like they are just modifying a legitamit procedure when in fact they are ignoring it and/or exploiting it. Or they can’t even admit they voluntarily made the decision to lie ‘Well, I had to or else’: or else what?

        To top it off when people knowingly and regularly lie for themselves or the company(for themselves) it becomes so common they and the newbies won’t think twice about doing it because that’s how it’s done.

  4. dolemite says:

    It’s time to re-tell my Sears story! Ordered weight set online, got an email that it was ready to pick up. Drive to store…not in stock, and not sure when it will be in stock. Although this took an hour to find out. Tried to get them to give me the same discount on a similar set. Nope. Tried to get them to sell me the display. Nope. After 2 hours, the best I could do is a refund on my credit card (which almost took an hour, and 3 sales associates and 2 managers).

    • KyBash says:

      Long story short:
      An expensive 50ft Craftsman steel tape. End came off after third use. Store would only replace it with cheap 12ft steel ruler (not even in the same class). Wrote to Sears corporate. “Replacement with similar item in stock is the only option.”

      Never, never, never again will Sears get a dime from me.

    • Zer0.MediA says:

      You got a shitty employee and/or manager, because there’s no reason you shouldn’t have been able to take the floor model if they had one. I’m pretty sure you’d get ten percent off of that in my local Sears.

  5. Max Headroom says:

    How… how are they still in business?

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Loans. From banks. And they have no way to repay them all. They are the GM of the department store world. The imminent Sears crash is going to make the Challenger disaster look like a pop bottle rocket.

  6. jpdanzig says:

    I have a friend who works for the ad agency that just won the Sears account. I told him they have their work cut out for them. If Sears’ sales pick up despite this unending flood of bad word-of-mouth, then advertising still does have power…

  7. Geosama says:

    Funny how just last night I had the same experience in a Sears by me

  8. kevduce says:

    As much as Sears stories are almost predictable, I still somehow enjoy reading them.

  9. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Shouldn’t every Sears story now be accompanied by sad trombone?

    • sweeti2055 says:

      I’m afraid not. Just because some customer’s have had issues with customer service from Sears locations doesn’t mean all locations are like that. I can think of several employees Sears employees (managers and regular employees) that have went above and beyond the call of their job description to make sure a customer is taken care of. When out of items the substitute for another item if there is a sub available, there are some innovative items that there are no subs for because there is nothing out there like them.

  10. jsweitz says:

    Uh-oh, I ordered a couple sets of this EXACT thing last week but haven’t been brave enough to venture near the mall to pick them up yet. Hope mine are there.

    The OP obviously uses (or fatwallet), so he shouldn’t be too surprised that when hundreds or thousands of people order something (or multiples) that is marked down 70%, there is a decent chance of problems. Still, its no excuse for Sears.

    Sometimes its safer to pay a little more to have deals like this shipped to increase the likelihood you actually receive them.

    Another possibility about the OP, one of the things in this deal was extra batteries for the drills (lithiums for like $3 btw). My sears said they only had 1 in stock, but I was able to change my quantity to more than one once it was in my cart. I only ordered 1, but OP could have possibly “tricked” the system to let him order more than they had. Still no excuse for Sears and their poor website/inventory system.

  11. Marlin says:

    Yea long story short… I ended up yelling at some people at sears and never did the pickup option again. Think I have been back to a sears maybe 1 or 2 times since then.

  12. Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

    Welcome to sears, we value your business. Now get the fuck out.

  13. chargerRT says:

    Who else thinks it’s time for Sears/Kmart to do some research in the new year to find out what America really thinks of them and how far they’ve sunk, then come back with real improvements? Just like Hardee’s.

    Couldn’t make things worse, could it?

    • Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

      Couldn’t make things worse, could it?

      And with this statement, the apocalypse has begun.
      La Fin du Monde.

      Thanks a lot buddy.

  14. George4478 says:

    2 weeks ago, I bought a Craftsman garage opener to replace the previous Craftsman model that died after 18 years.

    The same model in-store was more expensive than their online sale, so I used one of their handy kiosks and placed a pick-up order. Got the email in 30 minutes, got the opener in about 10 minutes, saved $42 using their computer.

    An excellent Sears experience.

    • dolemite says:

      It’s a Christmas miracle. Here is how I would have expected that to go down: You get your email to pick it up, and bring it to the register. Associate: “Oh…I’m sorry, we just ran out of those.” “Huh? They are right there…on the shelf…10 of them.” “No…no…says right here we are out of stock.” You pick it up and hand it to him. “This is it. This is the same model/sku. Just hand it to me.” He backs away: “I wish I could help you sir…would you like a refund on your purchase?”

      • George4478 says:

        Sears is like Best Buy. For every horror story we read here, there are many, many good experiences.

        I am one of those people who has never had a bad experience in either location.

    • ovalseven says:

      I took an old, broken Craftsman tape measure back to Sears a few months ago to see if they would replace it. Craftsman doesn’t make tape measurers anymore so the guy handed me Stanley model that was better than my original. Cool.

    • sjb says:

      I think that its good also, I have had excellent Sears experiences for the last 20 years!
      I have not used or been near a Sears in the last 21 years due to bad experiences.

  15. druidicawen says:

    I called Sears two days ago to inquire as to whether they had any A15 appliance bulbs (I’m in Downtown Chicago and there aren’t any convenient hardware stores but Sears is a block away). Transferred to three different people who didn’t even bother to check a computer, just a flat “We don’t carry light bulbs.” Went to the store, up to the hardware department and found a whole aisle of light bulbs. They had four options for A15 appliance bulbs and there were six employees chatting about 20 feet away. FAIL…

  16. Starrion says:

    My father in-law ordered a new snowblower.
    He got the “your item is available for pickup”
    Calls me to have me bring my pickup to carry it.
    We drive to the store.
    It’s not there. “Those are at the warehouse. They close at 6pm”
    He gets the “your item is available.” Tries to call said warehouse. No answer.
    Calls – no answer
    calls – no answer
    We meet with at the warehouse at 5:30.
    He is in the dark parking lot, in front of a poorly lit storefront with the Sears banner, yelling in his car at the CSR.
    I wander up to the door. Hours 8:30 – 4:30.
    Sears is not unabashedly evil like Ticketmaster or BofA, it’s more of the Alzheimer’s patient of the retail world.

    • dolemite says:

      That’s a good analogy. “I hear young people these days sell things on the interwebz…I think I’m going to start doin that too. Now, I need one of those dad burn moderns to look up the spider sights, right?”

  17. Dallas_shopper says:

    I wish people would read this blog before shopping at Sears.

  18. scoosdad says:

    Everytime I read one of these, I feel like we’ve all got front row seats to Sears’ final death gasp.

    Thanks Laura, keep ’em coming!

  19. IRememberBuffalo says:

    My brother just finished up a holiday stint working at Sears, filling orders and loading customers’ vehicles. When online orders came in he wouldn’t input into the system that the orders were filled until he could locate the product. For this, he was told that Sears would not employ him past the holidays. Apparently, if you don’t tell the system that the item is in stock within 45 minutes, all the managers up the chain receive an email that shows that the item wasn’t filled. When he protested that he didn’t want to make customers come in when the item wasn’t in stock, he was told that he should press “yes”, that the orders were filled, regardless of whether the stock was there.

    • sweeti2055 says:

      I know during the hiring process for holiday help the new employee is told they are being hired for the holidays, which means their man power will not be needed after the holidays. So employees our let go because the are HOLIDAY HELP.

      I am not sure what your brother was told but I do know that if a product is not found and a substitution is found a call is made to the customer to let them know what is in stock. If the item is not found a second look is done, then the item is declined.

      People believe that since they receive a confirmation letter then it is confirmed the item is there, not true. The confirmation letter is sent so the customer has a number to refer to. The customer must wait for the second letter stating that it is there.

  20. incident_man says:

    When I worked for Sears in the receiving department, we were told to indicate that we had an item in stock for an online order…even if we didn’t have the item. For some reason, not having the item is worse in the eyes of the corporate suits than lying by telling the customer we had the item when we, in fact, did not.

  21. billlnv says:

    I had a similiar situation. I ordered a table saw online to pick up in the store. A few hours later I received an email that said my order was cancelled because of insufficient stock. I checked their website and there was 10 in stock. I even called the store and they confirmed that there were some in stock. I was just going to the store to buy it when I realized that I had been charged for the table saw. I called to find out why I had been charged.They informed me that they automatically charge when the order was placed and that i would take 5-7 business days to refund the money. I asked if I could just go pick up the product since I had been charged for it and the store confirmed that they had them in stock. I was told that since the order had been cancelled I would have to pay again and wait for the refund. This was unacceptable. I went to another retailer and bought the item. I will not shop at Sears anymore. This was the second time in two months that I had a bad experience from them. The first was on Veteran’s Day when I asked an employee if they gave a Military/Veterans discount. I was told no and asked what made them special to receive a discount. My reply was, “We made it possible for you to be an ass.”

  22. 132_and_bush says:

    My wife worked for a Sears Hometown store and was thrilled to finally get the hell out of there. The customer service from Sears Corporate was garbage. The upside though was that even if the customer was a total douche in the store (She had one who ranted and raved and dented a refrigerator he was returning after the warranty expired), Sears would bow down to them and give them whatever they wanted.

  23. andre nickatina says:

    I tried ordering from Sears online a few years ago without success. The products appear on their website as ‘in stock’ but after I went to checkout and paid, days later I got an email saying the items were not in stock and the order has been canceled. I’d go to their site and see those items listed as in stock still. Tried choosing different things, same result. One more try after that and I was convinced they just didn’t care anymore. There was no effort to contact me about the orders, to backorder the stuff I tried to order, or to fulfill the actual order. Maybe the whole website is just a joke?
    I canceled my Sears card after that and never went back

  24. wjimi says:

    my Sears store-pickup story: WE DO HAVE IT, BUT YOU CAN’T TAKE IT…….

    Ordered a Kenmore range hood fan online for in-store pickup. Some days later, I get a phone call from Sears that my item is ready for pickup.

    I drive into town to get it, and although it IS there, they won’t let me take it-even though I have ID, the credit card that I used for this purchase, AND my Sears Rewards card.

    They claim I have to go home, and print out a copy of my email that was sent to notify me of the pickup being ready. ( I did NOT get an email, I got a phone call. ) The guy insists they don’t phone, they email, and it says on the email to print it out!

    I went back home – still no email notification, but i did have the original order confirmation, so i printed that…. which says nothing about having to show it for pickup or anything.

    I unhappily went back, got my item, tried to tell the manager how crappy their policy is, came home, emailed SEARS about it, and of course, got no reply.

    vowed never to go back to SEARS — but i see today they will be closing hundreds of Sears and KMarts, so it’s probably a moot point.

  25. Zer0.MediA says:

    It’s impossible for an off-site website to know what’s in each and every store. It’s definitely a faulty system, but 85% of the time it works just fine. And yes, I work at a Sears.

  26. Akylax says:

    Actually, that’s been Sears’s policy for a long time — I wrote about a similar experience in 2007:

    The policy for local stores is “accept every order.” In other words, whether or not it’s actually in stock, say that it is. The idea, I guess, is to at least get people to come to the store.

    I was told this by the guys working in the customer pick-up area of my local Sears. I went to pick up a car seat that I was told was in stock and ready. (“Thank you for shopping with Your order #015977560 containing the item(s) listed below is now ready to be picked-up.”) But it wasn’t ready because the store was out of stock.

    But the Sears policy of ‚Äúaccept every order‚Äù meant the e-mail gets sent out regardless, according to not one but three guys in the warehouse.”