Sears, Where “5-Minute Guarantee” Means “We Guarantee To Stop The Clock Before It Reaches 5 Minutes”

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Consumerist reader Anna says years of unpleasant experiences have soured her on shopping at Sears. But when she saw the store was selling a 20-inch toolbox for only $9.99 with free in-store pick-up — and a guarantee that she would get that order within five minutes of showing up at the counter of get a $5 coupon — she decided to give the once-great retailer another shot. Oops.

It was easy enough to place the order on Sears.com and within minutes she had her confirmation e-mail and a notice saying her toolbox was ready to be picked up.

A bit later in the day, she arrived at the Sears store and checked in out the counter, where her name went up on an LCD screen, along with a clock counting the amount of time she’d spent waiting.

A poster near the counter bragged that the store was able to fulfill all customer pick-up withing 5 minutes, and that this Sears had a 99.1% success rate for the month.

If those stats gave Anna any hope that she’d be able to get her toolbox and get out sans hassle, it was soon deflated.

Writes Anna:

Suddenly, as my countdown passed 4 minutes, a store employee emerged and told me that the item I was told is ready for pick-up is not ready for pick0up and he has to go to the store floor to get it.

He then took me off queue, which stopped the ticker at 4:24 and marked my pick-up as complete.

Another 5 minutes elapsed and he finally returned with the toolbox.

Okay, so she had been rooked on the 5-minute guarantee, but at least she had her toolbox, right?

Well, yes and no:

The box had a piece of chewed-up gum stuck to it. When I opened it I noticed that the tray insert was missing. I returned to the merchandise pick-up counter and brought this to the attention of an employee.

At first he denied the existence of a tray until I pointed to him that the label on the front clearly lists it.

He then informed me that it was the last item in store and inquired what I wanted to do about it. I told him I don’t want an incomplete item and want a refund.

He took the toolbox and brought me a 2″ x 2″ receipt which he said I needed to take to the tools section on the other side and different level of the store to get my refund.

Once I got to the tools area, I saw an empty store with a group of 4-6 Sears employees hanging around the register area. One of them asked me why I wanted to get my money back and then even said “Show me where you got the toolbox.”

After explaining for the nth time that I am not going to go through that again and simply want my money back, she began the return process, all the while the group of young and obviously bored Sears employees proceeded to stare at me.

The employee helping me finally punched in the last numbers, pressed print and said “uh-oh.” Apparently, the register had run out of paper and she couldn’t print the receipt. Not only that, but apparently, replacing the paper reel does not permit her to reprint.

The group of employees became lively. Some went to the shelf to try and see where the infamous toolbox once stood. Others began giving suggestions on how to proceed with the register, including but not limited to: printing a ledger, writing a handwritten return receipt, calling an assistant manager, and doing an even exchange for a larger toolbox.

She chose to call an assistant manager, who finally showed up after several store intercom calls. He was not in a good mood and, after complaining about the employee who called him and then about the registers, left without resolution. Another assistant manager was called, not in the least happy about the call, he finally printed the receipt and left.

Of the approximately 10 Sears employees who were there last night, only one offered an apology, and only for the register mishap. It’s despicable that instead of the 5 minutes it should have taken to pick up a simple $10 toolbox, it took me almost an hour to get a crappy store demo with missing pieces and then jump through hoops to try and get my $10.

After this ordeal, Anna tells Consumerist she is finally done with Sears: “It is not worth the aggravation and they have managed to screw up 100% of the orders I have ever placed with them. They even have a clever plan to rig the stats on the 5-minute pick-up guarantee.”